Classic Cinema

Stafford Street,
Walsall, WS2

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Classic Cinema

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Originally called Cinema de Luxe, it was built by Mr T. Jackson who had opened cinemas around Walsall and went bust. Designed by Walsall based architectural firm Hickton & Farmer, the building constructors were J.F. Wooton. The opening programme on 23rd December 1912 seems not to be known. The Cinema de Luxe also had a dance hall attached. The first sound feature film was “The Easiest Way” starring Constance Bennett, which was screened in 1931. The projectors had been fitted with Kalee 8 picture heads with Western Electric sound.

Clifton Cinema (Walsall) Ltd. (Directors Sydney Clift & Kenneth Jones), took over the Cinema De Luxe and renamed it Classic Cinema in 1940. They refurbished cinema to the plans of architectural firm Satchwell & Roberts.

For six years I used to be able to look down upon the rear of the Classic Cinema from our offices of the ABC Cinema. I was told that when the Classic Cinema was open they used to warn Minnie Wallace (the manageress) of anyone waiting to sneak in without paying through the exits.

Closed 22nd June 1958, the films were John Slater in “Johnny Your Wanted” and Kent Taylor in “The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues”. The Clifton Cinemas circuit decided that despite doing good business, closure was the cost of installing full CinemaScope as the cinema had a narrow proscenium, which would entail installing a new wide proscenium. The projection box was also in a ‘hard to get to’ position in the building.

Clifton converted the Classic Cinema to a dance hall which failed to attract decent business. Then it was sold for retail, finally become a Masda Price supermarket, which burned down, and the land is now used for parking.

Contributed by Mike Blakemore
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