Odeon Birmingham

139 New Street,
Birmingham, B2 4NU

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Showing 1 - 25 of 52 comments

Wurlitzer420 on December 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

The Compton organ is now owned by the Penistone cinema organ trust. It installed in the Paramount! theatre Penistone.

hmaaust@gmail.com on June 28, 2015 at 4:08 pm

I apologize for taking up so many comments, but I get quite nostalgic for those old times and places.

hmaaust@gmail.com on June 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm

I’d like to show a snap of Mother and myself in 1938 but it was deleted.The point was that it showed the OTC uniform worn by me for the early December 1939 stage tableau at the Paramount mentioned in an earlier comment, and it was taken by my father, Arthur Raymond.

hmaaust@gmail.com on June 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Hooray! Managed to transmit photos: Clockwise: upper left:projection room in November 1942 showing “The Great Mr Handel” (first British colour feature),Gene Autry with Sid Lewis of Loughborough Cinema group, August 17, ‘39. A Commissionaire with a bevy of Usherettes, and finally Charlie Gregory, the stage manager. He is on the right of the two images. He used to go to the wings of the stage a turn a wheel which brought up all sorts of coloured lights at the beginning, or dim them at the end of the picture. It was real showmanship in those days.

hmaaust@gmail.com on October 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Thanks. Another anecdote: An Associate of the Royal College of Organists criticized Raymond’s playing to Leslie Holderness. My father entertained the visitor to tea in the theatre cafe.Must ave been 1941 or so. Nevertheless he did not replace him. In ‘38 the BBC wanted to wire the Paramount for organ broadcasts. However, like the artist he was, Arthur declined the offer until remuneration was offered. It wasn’t; so the broadcasts never aired.


Mike_Blakemore on October 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Leslie Holderness ended up a Supervisors for the Clifton Cinema Circuit.. There is a picture of him on the Regal Wolverhampton listing (First Left)

hmaaust@gmail.com on October 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Looks like Arthur Raymond (real name Cecil Austin)in the photo not shown here of Manager Holderness and the whole staff(about 1943-4) sitting on one side right in the front among the usherettes. He was only five feet tall.


Mike_Blakemore on April 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

Hmm. Just a Thought.. an odd piece of Trivia. The Freehold of the Odeon New Street is owned by Oscar Deutsch’s old school “King Edward Grammar”

damiandale on April 11, 2014 at 5:46 am


please check out my facebook group dedicted to Paramount/Odeon Birmingham.

damiandale on April 11, 2014 at 5:36 am

to Stan Austin, your Paramount stories are great, thank you. I would absolutely love to see any photo’s you have related to the Paramount/Odeon. I am trying to compile as much info on the place as possible for future records as no one else seems to be doing that. My email address is: and I would love to hear more information & stories about the running of the Paramount including photographs you would like to share. Kind regards, Dale M (ex.Odeon New St)

damiandale on November 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

very interesting reading these comments. I worked at the Odeon from 1974 – 1988 as a projectionist/ stage tech until they stopped live shows. Then I moved over to the Alex theatre for a while. I know the Odeon inside out and run a facebook memorial page to the place. Anything related to it from 1937 to 1988. Im not so interested in the place after the live shows stopped and I left. I have been back and looked around and was shocked to see the dilapidated state it’s been let go to. Sad really. We were a team of 5 and looked after everything in that place. I am always on the look out for any memorabilia or memories linked to the Paramount/Odeon and have collected a few interesting items over the years. Here is my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/odeon.birmingham/

I would be happy if anyone wants to join the group and add to the memories.

hmaaust@gmail.com on June 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I remember that September 1937 when my father told us of his appointment as organist at the Theatre. There were some great times then: many stage shows between pictures.(Obviously I am a very senior citizen) One of them, just before Christmas, 1939, featured Robert Ashley, baritone, singing “Moon Love”. an adaptation of Tchaikowski’s Fifth Symphony, 2nd movement. There were also Robert and Murray Dickie,tenor, 16 years old, who with their mother stayed with us; both of the boys performed in the show and later became well known opera soloists. William Pethers' orchestra played “Somewhere over the rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz,and “Small Hotel”. My principal part(as actually a Paramount employee)was in a finale. I was dressed in my O.T.C. uniform, representing the Army.The two other services appeared one on each side so that we formed a human pyramid.

Very Creative Days.
hmaaust@gmail.com on April 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

One of my memories is of when father sent me on an errand to Felton Rapley, the organist at the Gaumont in 1938. I caught a glimpse of the screen. It was a scene from “Snow white and the seven dwarfs”. Christmas ‘38 was a good time. “If I were King” with Ronald Colman was playing at the Paramount. (Fiction of Francois Villon, the knave poet, taking King Louis XI’s place for a day during a war with Burgundy. Came out as a musical in '56 as the “Vagabond King”.)

hmaaust@gmail.com on April 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Of course, I HAD to go and see the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City, suburb of Los Angeles, and found it disappointing. Someone was making a clip for a TV weekly. Our group was allowed into the studio commissariat where we could lunch with the players.I did see Debbie Reynolds and a few from long forgotten series like “Shenandoah” and “Chaparral” “Dr. Kildare” Buildings were quite old, 1910s or 1920s. You could almost imagine operators hand-turning their cameras.

hmaaust@gmail.com on April 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Can’t argue after 70 years. That’s how it seemed to me. There is photograph of father on the organ in the May 1938 issue of “Cinema Management”. Remember, he is at the extreme left of the stage, as seen from the auditorium. I am fortunate in still having photos of Autry’s visit, of the enormous film projectors, some of the staff, including some charming usherettes. I might be able to forward them, although I have never done that before. It will have to wait, because they are in Anchorage, Alaska, and I am writing from Portland,. Oregon. I will watch the Youtube.

Kindest Regards,
Stan Austin.

rmayr on March 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

Raymond, the organ console turned to the left, so that the organist could see the screen and the orchestra. If it had turned to the left the organist would have been facing the wall, and unable to see what was going on. Here is some footage of the ODEON and the organ in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCdunRXpuZg

hmaaust@gmail.com on March 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm

A man walked through the blacked out Birmingham streets from the Paramount to our Edgbaston home early in World War II. Nothing special, except that the No 7 bus to Portland Road and all others had stopped running. He placed a small dud firebomb found during the air raid on our mantle piece.He was Arthur Raymond, resident organist at the Paramount from 1937 to 1944, and my father. His real name was Cecil Austin which he later used for Chopin concerts around the United Kingdom. It is very nostalgic to recall the glory of the Paramount after seventy-five years. However, my father’s talent was unique. The usual programme contained a supporting film, the news, trailers,occasional cartoon (Disney) and the main film. Very frequently threre was a stage show and Arthur’s repertoire: a slide show of operettas such as “Rose Marie”, “Student Prince” accompanied by records played from the projection room while he played the organ.The organ actually rose six feet or more and turned half right for dad’s performance. Audiences were really intrigued when he accompanied songs in a musical film. On 11/12/40 we had a really hefty air raid. It is surprising that the theatre was untouched; on Friday 13/12/40 I sat on the organ seat with him as he rehearsed the accompaniment to the “New Moon” with Jeanette MacDonald and Helson Eddy and of course played it the next week. I was allowed to go pretty well all over the theatre including the projection room with Jackson the operator,or watch Gregory the stage manager controlling the coloured lights still playing on the screen when the film opened. (Many years later I saw Nelson Eddy’s live show and spoke to him a day later)

One special event was the visit of cowboy singer Gene Autry and his horse “Champion”. The press photographer did not come, and I can’t say how thrilled I was to “snap” the star and Mr Smith- a manager from Loughborough- for publicity. I still have the B/W print in my album as well as much else: popular music which father gave me.

When I project the classic DVDs on a 6' by 41/2' screen, even that isn’t anything like watching it in such a luxurious and fabulous cinema as the Paramount was although I have visited the New Gallery, the Regert Brighton,and many theatres in the UK and US. The Paramount wsa artistry beyond compare.

CSWalczak on June 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm

A Birmingham resident, Mr, Cyril Barbier, has recently constructed a large, extremely detailed scale model of this theatre. There is a link to an article about it here and a link to a slide show that includes pictures of the theatre as it is today and several photos of the model.

Johncine on January 10, 2012 at 3:50 am

Ah, the memories. I saw MOONRAKER (1979), ROCKY III (1982), BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987) here when it was a single screen. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS was also the film that reopened the cinema as a cinema only after the last gig in the summer of 1987. I also saw Huey Lewis and The News at their sell-out gig in 1986. Always bizarre that the Widescreen movies played on a bigger screen than the Scope Films. Disney films and CARRIE were also two other movie regulars here.

DSJ on October 28, 2009 at 7:36 am

I joined Cinerama when it was in Sheffield, in the early ‘60s, I think I was 18. The name WAS Cinerama not Itinerama and the venue was a 'Big Top’(the centre lock hub weighed 5 tons)and the film that was shown was South Seas Adventure – but NOT as described on the web sites I have visited?? The ‘Windjammer’ plot, plus film of Australia’s outback was what I watched 13 times per week(and loved it, and my favourite music was all ready Grieg’s Piano Concerto)so somewhere the info lines have got crossed.

The screen was I believe 108 feet wide but I forget the height -huge covers it! The tent we were told,cost 1 $million due to the cost of
the fireproof? material. Seating number was enormous and at (laugh)12/6d per seat with 2 shows per day the take was at least 1000 quid I believe.
We wore black guards type daks with double stitched seams, maroon cummerbund and dickiebow, white shirt and white waistcoat with gold or silver? navy type buttons.
I went with the company to Southsea but parted company after a time as I had a bad relationship with a particular manager, went on to
Paignton, Devon, and worked in a large hotel(Markham Court) for two
seasons, then migrated to Oz.

The Southsea site was on Southsea Common but I cannot remember the
Sheffield site’s location. Anyone help??
One manager was ‘Johnny’ Heinz, another was David Monk?? I have
attempted to locate and contact a good Swiss friend from that time but although I located his name and a contact number – the person I
contacted apparently spoke no English- had to get his daughter to speak to me- and had never been anywhere near Cinerama!!
A mystery, as there is only one person listed in Switzerland with his name!!

Oh, the music played outside of film time was a Glen Miller selection.
Hope this stuff is of interest.

delta on March 6, 2008 at 3:27 am

‘Once Upon A Time In The Midlands’ is showing on Film 4 at 9pm on Sunday 9 March.

smoothie on March 6, 2008 at 2:25 am

Ian-i’ve got ‘em all on paper. Past 45 (yes,45!) years even. Every movie since Elizabeth Taylor got bitten by her ass (or was it asp?) in Cleopatra. Soundtracks, posters, brochures too. Come over to Wolverhampton and taste the beer while yer at it!

AdoraKiaOra on March 6, 2008 at 2:07 am

Wow! i used to love all those old film ad layouts.

woody on March 6, 2008 at 1:59 am

various ads for derby cinemas and at the bottom an ad for Odeon Birmingham live show with Elkie Brooks