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Electric Theatre 1909 - converted building - original purpose?

Kate Bham

proper brummie kid
Hello, I'm wondering whether anyone can help. I work at the Electric Cinema on Station Street, Birmingham. The building was a conversion in 1909, not a purpose built cinema. The frontage was re-styled in the late 1930s for the art deco Tatler News Theatre. The venue was modified during this time but the structure remains (notable from the matching brickwork at the rear). I would like to find out the original purpose of the building. We know it was a 'commodious shop' of some sort, as stated in a local newspaper documenting the opening. When the Electric 1909 opened, the building shared space with a billiards saloon on the second floor and Jewish boys school on the third. Attached are two photos of Station Street from the late 1890s/early 1900s showing the gap between buildings, where we The Electric and The Rep will later occupy. The next step I think would be to check the planning permission records for Station St at the library...
I've been told that records may not go back that far which is very disappointing. We currently don't know exactly how old the building is beyond the Electric Theatre 1909.

Thank you,
Kate
 

Attachments

Radiorails

master brummie
The Electric Cinema is mentioned a great many times in this long thread:
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
I am not sure that the first photo does show where the Theatre would be , though it is difficult to be certain. The Market Hotel is at 29-33 Station St , and the Electric theatre, although in the 1912 and 1913 Kellys is not given a number, it is between 45 & 49, and is later listed as no 47. That is a fair distance from no 33, and there does not look big enough. space in the photo
for this number of plots.
The 1910 version does not list no 47, but no 49 was T.G.Adams & Co, and 43,45 was Charles Frederick Marlow & Co, wine merchants. in the 1908 version thta section of the street is not numbered, but between 45 & 49 was The Newey's Motor Car Co. In the 1904 edition it seems to have been the Midlands Garage & Motor Agency. so it seems that previously the site was a garage
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Kate
The numbers were not cropped. Prior to about 1908 this block of buildings are not numbered.
Should add that the year given in Kellys is the publication date, and probably refers to the year before
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
The Kelly’s both show the section of Station Street that is of interest, the south side from Worcester Street to Hill Street.

Whereas the 1913 gives numbers the 1905 does not, but comparing the two the 1905 gives the Midland Garage and Motor Co which may be the Garage mention from the Birmingham Gazette.

Some Kelly’s are online via Ancestry, but it costs an arm and a leg.

The Gazette clip can be made a bit clearer, but it gives an idea.
 

Kate Bham

proper brummie kid
The Kelly’s both show the section of Station Street that is of interest, the south side from Worcester Street to Hill Street.

Whereas the 1913 gives numbers the 1905 does not, but comparing the two the 1905 gives the Midland Garage and Motor Co which may be the Garage mention from the Birmingham Gazette.

Some Kelly’s are online via Ancestry, but it costs an arm and a leg.

The Gazette clip can be made a bit clearer, but it gives an idea.
I'll try and transcribe it next week. Thank you. Do you have a date the article was published in The Gazette. The Gazette, Birmingham? We can add it to the cinema's archive.
 

RobT

master brummie
The Birmingham Gazette and Express, Friday, September 3, 1909.
I have split the story to make it easier to read.

View attachment 140958View attachment 140959
I've copied story (cannot be blamed for any mistakes) but it should help you get a digital copy

ELECTRIC PIANO
The Electric Theatres, Ltd., applied to the
justices for a music licence for premises running
from Station Street into Hinckley-street. Mr.
Edward Rowlands, who represented the company,
stated that the premises had been acquired for
the purpose of giving cinematograph picture
shows of an interesting and educative character,
and the licence was required for an electric piano.
At present the building was a motor garage, but
the company proposed spending a considerable
sum to make it suitable for the convenience of
the public and thoroughly fire-resisting. There
would be continuous exhibitions of pictures from
2 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Answering the justices, Mr. Crowe, the architect,
stated that there was meeting accommodation
for 430, and he had made provision for exits
sufficient for a building holding 1,000 people. In the
case of panic the people could be got out in less than
three minutes. There would be no danger whatever
to the superstructure. They would be using inflammable
films for a short time, but later on they would use
non-inflammable films, which were being put on the market.
Everything would be done to make the building fire resisting.
The operating room would be cut off from the public part
of the building, and the safety of the operator would be
fully considered.
Mr Bradley announced that application for the
Mitre would be granted. The application for music licence
in respect of the Electric Theatres, Limited, would also
be granted, subject to the plans and arrangements being
approved by the City Surveyer, the Fire Brigade, and
the Chief Constable. The magistrates desired him to point
out that it was the custom to require that the person to
whom licence was granted and who was responsible for the
management should live in the city. They desired the person
holding the licence to be on the spot.
Mr. Rowlands stated that all the requirements and suggestions
of the justices would be carried out.
The justices afterwards granted transfers as follows:-
21 beer off premises, 34 beer on, 38 licenced victuallers,
8 beer and wine on.
 

A Sparks

master brummie
I'm finding this is an interesting thread - I knew the Electric in Birmingham was the oldest continuing cinema in the UK but I assumed it was built as one, not converted from existing premises!
 

Kate Bham

proper brummie kid
I've copied story (cannot be blamed for any mistakes) but it should help you get a digital copy

ELECTRIC PIANO
The Electric Theatres, Ltd., applied to the
justices for a music licence for premises running
from Station Street into Hinckley-street. Mr.
Edward Rowlands, who represented the company,
stated that the premises had been acquired for
the purpose of giving cinematograph picture
shows of an interesting and educative character,
and the licence was required for an electric piano.
At present the building was a motor garage, but
the company proposed spending a considerable
sum to make it suitable for the convenience of
the public and thoroughly fire-resisting. There
would be continuous exhibitions of pictures from
2 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Answering the justices, Mr. Crowe, the architect,
stated that there was meeting accommodation
for 430, and he had made provision for exits
sufficient for a building holding 1,000 people. In the
case of panic the people could be got out in less than
three minutes. There would be no danger whatever
to the superstructure. They would be using inflammable
films for a short time, but later on they would use
non-inflammable films, which were being put on the market.
Everything would be done to make the building fire resisting.
The operating room would be cut off from the public part
of the building, and the safety of the operator would be
fully considered.
Mr Bradley announced that application for the
Mitre would be granted. The application for music licence
in respect of the Electric Theatres, Limited, would also
be granted, subject to the plans and arrangements being
approved by the City Surveyer, the Fire Brigade, and
the Chief Constable. The magistrates desired him to point
out that it was the custom to require that the person to
whom licence was granted and who was responsible for the
management should live in the city. They desired the person
holding the licence to be on the spot.
Mr. Rowlands stated that all the requirements and suggestions
of the justices would be carried out.
The justices afterwards granted transfers as follows:-
21 beer off premises, 34 beer on, 38 licenced victuallers,
8 beer and wine on.
Thank you : )
 

ellbrown

ell brown on Flickr
I was a member of the Brumtography photography group that visited on Monday. Here's my post on Birmingham We Are.

History post 1909 mostly taken from Wikipedia. Joseph Cohen was the same Joseph Cohen who was named after at the Joseph Cohen Hall at Birmingham Singers Hill Synagogue.

 

Kate Bham

proper brummie kid
Hi,
Thank you all again for your help.

I've tried googling Kelly's records but can't seem to find information about them. Does anyone have a link to information?

Prior to Kelly's 1905, are the no more records recording planning permission on Station Street? Curious to learn about planning permission regarding the first building on this spot.

Many thanks,
Kate
 
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