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Gaumont cinema

oldMohawk

master brummie
I certainly have fond memories of the Gaumont, I've mentioned it 19 times on the BHF ... :)
One of my memories from when it looked as below
Lots of folks in this pic of Steelhouse Lane which was possibly taken on a Saturday or Sunday between May and early July in 1953. My favourite cinema the Gaumont is on the right where our crowd used to queue every Sunday for the evening performance. In this pic they queue to see Alan Ladd in Desert Legion which I did see but found slightly boring. A man carrying his young daughter stares at the camera while another man helps his wife down the high steps of the tram.
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As we chatted in the queue none of us really noticed that the trams had been replaced by buses but we were startled one Sunday in January 1955 when newspaper sellers came running up the street with special editions reporting that an express train had crashed in Sutton Coldfield station.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
And I remember in colour so it really looked like this
The Steelhouse Lane photo in post#2561 with added colour. It is early summer 1953 and last days of service for the trams before ending in early July. A large queue at the Gaumont and the family on the left might be on their way to visit someone in the General Hospital.
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Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
I wonder if anything of the interior was saved. It was, like so many cinemas, full of decoration. I remember the staircase, had a nice sweep to it. Those were the days when you felt like you were entering a special place, unlike the claustrophobic, multi-screen cinemas some became with their ‘tunnels’ to each screen.

Viv.
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
The Cinema was given a ‘facelift’ in August 1961. It was given a new projection room and the screen was widened. An apron stage was built for presentations and (sadly) the signs of the zodiac on the auditorium ceiling were removed in favour of modern ‘star’ lighting. I don’t remember the zodiac ceiling, something I’d have liked to have seen. At the same time, all the doors were replaced.

The installation of an apron stage suggests the cinema had more than just films in mind. I’ve seen a few newspaper references to presentations and performances on the stage, from choir performances to displays. Maybe they felt the writing was on the wall when home TVs really took off and had to act to secure a longer term future for themselves.

An interesting service the Gaumont seems to have offered early on is organ performances over the wireless (radio to you youngsters). This was mostly in the late 1930s to 1940. Felton Rapley was a regular performer, but there were several others including Ronald Greenwood, Reginald Cross, John Bee, Ernest B Alden and Harold Hunt. Performances were broadcast on the BBC Home Service but also on Scottish and Northern Ireland Radio. I think they started around late 1937. I’ve no idea how these were produced but I guess the sound acoustics at the cinema were very good. Some of these broadcasts were listed in the wireless programmes as “Gaumont Palace Cinema, Birmingham” as well as simply “Gaumont Cinema Birmingham”.

Viv.
 
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A Sparks

master brummie
My particular memory of the Gaumont was when a friend and I went to see the Lionel Bart musical film of Oliver - sitting a few rows back from us was Roy Wood of the Move and his girlfriend.
 

Williamstreeter

master brummie
Vivienne what I really liked about the Gaumont was , whenever they had an epic type film the interior foyer was always made up to represent the film . I went to see The Longest Day , the foyer was draped in Union Jacks and German flags and swastika's . mannequins dressed as British Tommies German Vermacht . Lawrence of Arabia , palm trees etc , just as an aside The West End on showing Spartacus had gladiator swords tridents and nets plus the odd Roman soldier . Made you feel part of it, before you'd sat down .
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Particularly fond memories of the Gaumont I had met June at the jazz club in the Golden Cross, she lived in a bedsits in Hunton Hill (off Gra velly Hill), saw her home (to the front door of course) and asked if she would like to go to the pictures next week. The Gaumont.? Yes she said and on the Wednesday night she turned up and we saw The Hound of the Baskervilles. I knew how to be romantic! I think it was February 1959. We still go to the cinema
Bob
 
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