ABC New Street

88-90 New Street,
Birmingham, B2 4HS

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ABC New Street

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Originally built as the Masonic Hall, it was screening films as early as 1896. It was converted into a full time cinema known as the Theatre de Luxe in July 1910. It was re-named Regent Cinema in 1922.

Taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in late-1929. They employed their ‘in house’ architect W.R. Glen to design a modern cinema within the existing walls. Despite its very narrow entrance on New Street, it was a very grand cinema, with 501 seats in the stalls, 348 in the circle, and 410 in the upper circle. Having an upper circle was very unusual in cinema design in the United Kingdom. The upper circle was at a very steep angle. The Forum Cinema was opened on 1st November 1930 with Edna Best in “Loose Ends” and Leslie Fuller in “Kiss Me Sergeant”. It was equipped with a Compton 2Manual/8Ranks theatre organ, with its console on the stage at the right hand side. The organ was removed from the building in 1955. The cinema held many midnight matinee performances.

The Forum Cinema was re-named ABC in 1961. It was closed on 9th April 1983 with “ET”. The stalls area and foyer was converted into an amusement arcade, with the upper parts of the building converted into offices.

Contributed by derek l.hunt

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

colinsmith
colinsmith on December 14, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Dennis. there really was an organist at the forum in 1950. generally he would play for a while before the show started. i recall that the odeon down the street also had an organist. i believe his name was charles, and i forget his last name.

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas on December 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

OK Colin,
Thanks for that,I knew of couse that there ‘was’ an organ there,and note above that it was only removed in 1955,but had no idea that it had been used relatively recently,when I was there.

I wish you well trying to contact others that worked at the Forum around the time you were there,one never knows who may pop up on here.

I have,thanks to this site and Facebook, been able to re-establish contact with three guys ‘projectionists'that I worked with,over forty years ago. One of them I talk to on Skype a couple of times a week now.

carlamottram
carlamottram on January 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

Wow, stumbled across this by accident, fabulous reading, My grandpa was George Mottram! Bless him, Been looking for anything on the internet connected With the cinema, found this to my delight Just spoke to my mom, an she remembers Larry, said he Was a good looking man, Noel as we knew him, This was his first name, sadly died in October 1976 To this day I miss him terribly. I am 48 now, and Often brag that my grandad was a projectionist I Will keep my eye on the forum.

So pleased I have found this.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

Hi Carl.. I have a group picture of Projectionists when they won best box Containing I think George Mottram, Larry Freeman.. Dennis Thomas.. and John Constable when I find it. I have put it somewhere safe.. When I find it I shall put it on.. I met George when he visited Theatre after retirement around late 1974, While I was Assistant Manager to Jonny Simmons

petehall
petehall on January 21, 2013 at 2:45 am

hi guys i worked at the abc back in 1969 with larry and the two johns and dennis b4 that i worked 2 years at the villa cross handsworth ..they were golden days

  pete hall
                  
Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas on January 21, 2013 at 2:51 am

Hi Carl, Great to hear from you,I remember your grandpa George. I started at the cinema as a fifteen year old,and George,the chief projectionist seemed so old to me then,now I am that sort of age myself :(.

George was a great guy,I got on well with him,he retired,while I was there,and Larry took over as chief.

As for Larry being a good looking man?,well he never did anything for me:), but he was also a decent man to work with. Do you know when George started at the Forum?,don’t think I ever had the nerve to ask him.

Its great that you found this site,so pleased to hear from you.

petehall
petehall on January 21, 2013 at 2:56 am

im looking for info abt john constable who worked with me at the villa x and the abc new street birmingham circa late 60s …i also worked at the beacon cinema scott arms now its just a block of flats..such a shame these beautiful cinemas were knocked down …

carlamottram
carlamottram on January 22, 2013 at 6:25 am

Afternoon, so lovely to hear from people that worked with George I just want to note that my name is Carla, not Carl, I’m Georges Grandaughter, sorry, its an easy mistake from my User name, ok, I spoke to my mom again, no one else to ask Sad isn’t it, when links to the past have gone George would have started 1930,s possibly Or…. Definately 1940,s.

Would be great to see that photo!

Take care all, speak soon

carlamottram
carlamottram on January 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

By the way, thank you for the lovely comments
About George, also we lived by the barr beacon
Cinema, I remember it well, wonderful building

Dennis Thomas
Dennis Thomas on January 23, 2013 at 1:35 am

OK Carla,sorry about the gender slip up :)yes it was all a long time ago now,but there are still people around who worked with George,so he is still remembered outside his family. It was nice to make contact with you here,take care.

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