Capitol Cinema

766 Alum Rock Road,
Birmingham, B8 3PP

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Capitol Cinema 2

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Located in the 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 2 comments)

Jaiom
Jaiom on July 19, 2013 at 6:15 am

Great piece of information. I would like to open a 3 Screen Cinema in Birmingham around the Small Heath area. Mainly to show Bollywood films but Hollywood too esp Disney films during the Holidays. Do you know of any buildings big enough and what tips would you recommend? Thank You

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on July 19, 2013 at 6:51 am

@ Jaiom.. My advice.after 39 years in the business.. for what it worth Advoid 35mm Format Projection will finish completely the end 2013 RFrom my memory of Small Heath. You have no Chance Best place to re-open is The Clifton Great Barr.. This would make a good proportioned 5 screen Cinema..

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