Electric Cinema

47-49 Station Street,
Birmingham, B5 4DY

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Electric Cinema

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The Electric Theatre was opened as a cinema on 27th December 1909 in the centre of the city and has been showing movies almost ever since. Is the Electric Cinema the oldest working cinema in Great Britain? At the moment it seems it is, by just a few months. It was designed by noted ‘live’ theatre architect Bertie Crewe.

In 1921 it was re-named Select Cinema. On 27th March 1937, the Select Cinema changed its name again and became the Tatler News Theatre, and had been given a new facade designed by architect Cecil E.M. Fillmore. In the 1950’s another name change to the Jacey Cartoon cinema.

During the 1960’s the cinemas programming policy and name changed to the Jacey Film Theatre and specialised in showing “continental” (pornographic) films. In the 1970’s the old Electric became part of the Classic chain of cinemas and maintained its “continental” film programme.

In the 1980’s under a change of ownership and another change of name it became known as the Tivoli Cinema. Another change of ownership in 1993 brought about another change of name, however, this time back to the Electric Cinema and operating as an independent, second run, cinema.

The company owning the Electric Cinema went into liquidation in December 2003. The last film shown was “Kill Bill”. The property was put up for sale but, because of a Preservation Order, the Electric’s destruction was prevented. Because of the Order it couldn’t be converted into offices or apartments.

In the summer of 2004 the lease of the Electric was sold, the new owner’s intention being to use it as a recording studio. However, the new owners became so enamoured of the building it was decided the interior be restored, the old features being retained, but with the technical innovations of the 21st century installed.

The twist at the end of the tale is that UGC’s Arcadian Multiplex nearby closed in 2003. The 294 seat Electric Cinema continues and on 4th July 2008 a second screen was added. It has digital projection, seating for 78 on black sofa’s and waiter service.

Contributed by chris perman

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 4, 2005 at 7:39 am

The address of the Electric Cinema is 47 Station Street. It opened on 27th December 1909, the architect was well known theatre architect Bertie Crewe. It was a conversion of premises that had been used as a hansom cab depot and at the time it was described as ‘attractive and cosy’. Red plush tip-up seats were provided for 376 patrons on a single sloping floor.

When Jacey Cinemas took control in 1936 they re-built the Station Street facade. The architect was Cecil E.M. Fillmore and the scheme included the installation of a balcony and the re-positioning of the projection box into the balcony level. It re-opened on 20th March 1937 as the Tatler News Theatre and had a seating capacity of 399. The style had been changed from Edwardian to Art Deco.

It was in 1980 when Classic Cinemas were operating the building that they gutted and split the auditorium, creating a twin cinema seating 242 and 105. Nothing remains inside of any of the decorative features of the building.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 18, 2005 at 4:11 pm

A nice exterior photograph of the recently restored Electric Cinema taken in October 2005:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 17, 2006 at 4:13 pm

Here are a couple of photos of the bizarre (but eyecatching) facade of the Electric Cinema as it looked in the 1990’s:
View link
View link

shylos10
shylos10 on June 13, 2007 at 9:22 am

Rumour has it that the basement of the cinema was used as a makeshift morgue during the war. The word “Hospital” is still there painted it large red letters and very very faded.

Ian
Ian on October 21, 2009 at 4:19 am

Two interior shots of the lower (main) screen at the Electric, taken in October 2009:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4031615014/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4031614858/

keiths
keiths on November 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLsqhNnMMO4

Take a look at this, to see the technology in place during 2000. A film by Fred J.Fullerton, which will be of interest to ‘techies’ everywhere.

woody
woody on November 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

photo taken around 2005 of the derelict facade
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/63364702/
and photo of the rear showing the TATLER painted sign
View link

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on September 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

The Classic company did not carry on with the continental programmes . They tried 2nd run. When Cannon bought out ABC. They then got the Futurist.. ABC New Street and Bristol Road. They then sold the lease to “Theatre One Coventry… They then sold lease to Elephant Films..

Robbie25646
Robbie25646 on September 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

I used to visit the Jacey as a kid 1954 to 1959 ish on a Saturday morning pending my pocket money there wonderful memories.

ALLAN3381
ALLAN3381 on June 26, 2014 at 2:12 am

allan3381. I worked at the tattler in 1948 as 3rd projectionist, And worked the super B T H PROJECTORS. Before that I worked at the Bristol, Bristol rd. After.that, I worked at the CARLTON Sparkbrook. I migrated to Australia, in 1950, and worked at the Savoy News Theater Adelaide. years later I became The Picture Show Man showing Movies all around country South Australia.

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