Capitol Cinema

766 Alum Rock Road,
Birmingham, B8 3PP

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Capitol Cinema

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Located in the Alum Rock/Ward End district to the East of Birmingham. Billed as ‘The Super Cinema of the Suburbs’, the 900-seat Capitol Cinema was opened on 4th April 1925 with “Broken Barriers” starring Norma Shearer and “Wine of Youth” starring Eleanor Boardman. It was designed by architectural firm Satchwell & Roberts, with the facade designed by architect Archibald Hurley Robinson who also acted as quantity surveyor. Prop., The Capitol Cinema(Ward End) Limited. In 1927 the company built the Tivoli Cinema at Yardley, in 1934 they built the Olton Cinema, Olton and in the 1950’s they took over the Stockland Green Playhouse Co.

In 1929, the Capitol Cinema was enlarged to 1,407 seats, retaining the original Hurley Robinson exterior. Seating was now provided for 1,029 in the stalls and 378 in the circle. The Capitol Cinema was the first cinema in Birmingham to use girder framed construction and a very early Art-Deco style auditorium (The first in Birmingham at least…)

In 1964 it had a major refurbishment with a 48ft picture, with intention of 70mm presentations. This they decided not to change the equipment in the end. In 1979 saw a conversion into 3 screens. We used Modernisiation Ltd., again (headed by John Freeze-Greene grandson of William Freeze-Green father was one of the Fathers of Cinema). Seating capacities in the screens were:– (1) 350 (2) 250 (3)130, and the re-opening films were “Bear Island”, “Love at First Bite” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”. The Capitol Cinema was closed in 1996 with “Muppet Treasure Island”. It become a Mosque.

I was General Manager from 1974 till 1996.

Contributed by Mike Blakemore

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on December 30, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Hi Donna Did he come from hadswort ? and have a brummi accent

Donna16377
Donna16377 on January 5, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Did you work their in 1976?

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 6, 2016 at 4:24 am

Yes I was the Company General manager and I managed the Theatre.

Donna16377
Donna16377 on January 6, 2016 at 12:38 pm

It’s a bit of a long shot but I’m trying to trace my father,did you no anyone going by that name?or similar?

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm

@ Donna That is a long time ago I only had one Asian ever work for me and All I can remember His Family had a factory directly opposite the Old Regal Handsworth… The Family took over the Regal from Mecca Bingo and turned it back to a Cinema… If my memory is right “the Prime Minister of India Visited the Regal..

Maxmld
Maxmld on April 25, 2017 at 7:33 pm

I remember queuing with my dad to see grease 1978 I think.
The que was all the way down the road I also remember seeing jungle book
Last feelings and others can’t remember the films. My brother used to take me there as well. I Remember the lady used to walk down the isle with a tray round her selling ice cream and things. An era long gone but not forgotten.

Khalid
Khalid on August 23, 2017 at 12:18 am

Yes. Slight misinformation above article. It closed in 1996 yes. It was closed for about 10-15 years and had all sorts of crime going on before it was refurbed and opened as a mosque. Also turning the alleyway behind it into a car park rather than waste land full of dumped rubbish.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on August 23, 2017 at 7:12 am

It was an operating mosque within 2 – 3 years of us selling.. There is no misinformation in the above article. I was one of the owners of the Cinema.. We sold the site December 1996. what happened after was no concern of us. We took the money and ran.

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