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Quinton Danillo Essoldo etc etc etc!!

Bill Parker

master brummie
I am sure we all have a favourite Cinema, they are so much an integral part of our former years and they should be remembered for what they are, a building where many shared a few hours together engrossed in a film made to simply entertain us and yet they became far more, often remaining in our memories for far longer than other buildings.

Even the many that have been destroyed, I use that term deliberately, still survive in our memory, often cherished memories of our youth and even childhood, I would like to share one such building with those that read this part of the forum, the cinema that was originally buils as the Danillo, Quinton.

By all accouts this Cinema should not really exist, in many ways it has lead a charmed life and has seen of the introduction of the Multiplexes and the construction of the M5 motorway!

It could be argued that this was not a Birmingham Cinema but it was in Quinton and the Quinton 9 ran right in front of it, well in one direction and It would have entertained many many Quintonians and only moved technically into Halesowen for a while in the 1970s

This was my local from 1957 and I have distinct memories of the Cinema well before it was converted, rather well, into a four screen complex. I cant recall the films seen there other than one with Rock Hudson in and screened about 1966, dont ask me what it was called, I remember it because I was with rather nice young lady named Maureen.

It was originally a Danillo and opened on August 7th a bank holiday in 1939. It was a 1600 seater built by T. Elvins and it opened with the film "Charlie Chan In Honalulu" After the hostilities it passed from its owner Mortimer Dent, of Edgebaston, to SM super Cinemas but retained its original name and did not became an Essoldo until 1961.
In April 1972 it was sold to the Classic Circuit who converted it ventually into a four screen Cinema, this was eventually completed in 1978 with Michael Jackson as manager and the chief projectionist being Michael Hands. It kept technically updated with the installation of Dolby Stereo ect.

It had changed names several times and has also been a Cannon, ABC, Odeon and it now as far as I know a "Reel" cinema, I believe this was becasue the monopolies commision told odean to dispose of some of its cinemas, althought I stand corrected on this.

Its fate did look a bit doubtful earlier in the 60s, with the construction of the M5 motorway but the motorway just skims the side of the Cinema. I seem to remember there was once a pathway that provided a short cut along the side of the building, this would now be where the motorway is but at a much lower level.
So long may it continue to entertain.


master brummie

I know the cinema well although I have not been there since it became a multi screen cinema. We used to catch "The Quinton 9" as it was always called home when I lived in Warley from the Kings Highway stop. The first time I saw an X Cert film was there. I used to walk the pathway you mention many times when I lived near Brandhall Golf Course. The pathway leads from Brandhall past Perryfields Secondary School upto the side of the Essoldo. The Golf Course was cut down in size firstly by Tame Road and then by the M5. The Kings Highway pub nearby has now gone and a new supermarket (I think Morrisons) will open there shortly. Did you hear the story that the River Tame starts from the Gents toilet in the Kings Highway.

The Essoldo may have been an ABC at one time but I am pretty sure it was never an Odeon. After all there were Odeons at Warley and Long Lane, Blackheath very close to the Essoldo.

The Essoldo used to be in Oldbury which enabled them to show films banned in Birmingham before being moved into Halesowen (and now in Dudley). The boundary change came about with the opening of the motorway which became the boundary.

Bill Parker

master brummie
Thanks David, Im not absolutely certain re it being an Odeon but Im fairly certain, this is one of those instances when takeovers rather complicate things, I will try to do some further research. The last time I visited the Cinema in order to take photos of the projection room, I think it was a Cannon Cinema, so that shows how long ago that was.
Incidently the equipment then was Westrex "Westars" fed from tower systems holding 12,000ft (2hrs) of film, I believe they have been replaced by Philips equipment but its probably going digital by now or if it hasnt it will soon. The projection romms when i was there had an ingenious closed circuit TV system for each projection room and the film position on the spools could be monitored from a central position, The "Chief" was if my memory serves me correctly, Michael Hands a very skilled operator and technician who took the time to explain everything.

Incidently when I said it was an Odeon for a while, Iam refering to within a few years back, prior to it becoming a "Reel"

I have just thought about another topic about this fine Cinema, in the late 60s they started showing a double bill horror film show staring at about 10pm and ending about Iam, I remember seeing" Frankenstein 1970" with B oris Karloff and " House On Haunted Hill" with Vincent price, I ended up walking back home to brandhall down the Kings Highway looking over my shoulder and with quite a quick step!!


master brummie
I know that in 1973 that the Classic Cinema chain was owned by Laurie Marsh because I held some shares in the company at that time. This was right at the time of a massive stock exchange crash so I eventually made a profit when the market improved. I was living by Brandhall Golf Course at the time so I would often walk across the golf course and up to Quinton.


master brummie
I live a stones throw away from the Classic as I called it, I new Michael well as I used to do his moms hair and he used to come in and wait for her. The Kings Highway has being pulled down and a food store is being built there what it is I have no idea.


knowlegable brummie
I moved to Quinton aged 4 in 1972. It was the Classic then, and I still call it that now. I never called it the Cannon, the Odeon, the ABC or the Reel. I will always call it the Classic, because your childhood influences always stick.

It never looked right as an Odeon, in my opinion. Odeons to me were always those lovely Art Deco designs that made them famous. The Classic is a more plain, practical 1930s style, and the name Odeon over the door looked wrong. They offloaded it because it didn't make money.

The Classic was the first place I ever went to the pictures, and the first time I ever went on my own, and the first time I ever took a girl to the pictures (she unfortunately was more interested in the film than me!). I saw the most influential films of my youth there.

I think it is living on borrowed time, sadly. The inevitable will come, because it cannot keep pace with the big multiplex's, which are the only commercial cinemas that can make profit now. It will be sad if it ever goes, but I really feel like it is coming soon.

Bill Parker

master brummie
I must confess I have not visited it for a long time and its on my vast list of things to do. I hope it carries on because so far it has managed to survive so many potential threats to its existance.

Odeons built by Oscar Deutch did have a particular look about them as most of them were designed by Harry Weedon and they were usually faced in a distinctive light coloured tiling called "fiance" (spelling probably incorrect). and to the Art Deco style were as the Danillo was brick faced and despite being built on 1939 which was quite late, it did not to my eyes have an Art Deco feel to it although I seem to remember the local press covering the discovery of some very fine Art Deco interior lighting panels that were uncovered when it was having some interior work done, I think they had been panelled over and hidden. To the credit of its then current owners they were restored to use.

I believe at one point during the boundary changes the Cinema found itself in Halesowen which did not licence Cinema opening on Sundays and so some feverish paperwork had to be carried out in order for it to continue opening on a Sunday. It later found itself in Warley which to a point makes sence as It looks as though it started in Oldbury when it was built. The latter point is interesting because the Quinton ( ran past it so in theory the buses ran outside the Birmingham City Boundary unless the bus Terminus had moved, or does the boundary run in the middle of the Hagley Road?

In a sence that latter does not matter, it is right on the boundary and as far as I am concerned its both a Birmingham and a Black Country Cinema and I hope it can survive, tecnically it seems to keep itself updated and it does not have any immediate competition and when motroring laong the M5 and zooming down its side the structure looks even more impressive.


master brummie
I knew the Essoldo (as it was at the time) quite well back in the late 50s and early 60s once my local cinema, the Majestic in Bearwood Rd closed. Not as posh as the Warley Odeon perhaps, but it had a style of its own.

The structure hasn't changed that much externally, the neon lights have gone and the name has changed, but it would still be recogniseable as it is today to those who saw it newly built in 1939.

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Bill Parker

master brummie
Indeed it would Lloyd, unfortunately my interests in Cinemas started a little late, Im not a big film fan its the technology and the architecture that I find more interesting and all the information i give in the forum tends to come from the two books that have been written about our local Cinemas and believe me they make interesting reading.

I well remember the other two Cinemas you mentioned but I never visited the Majestic but remember it well, it was owned by the Hewitson family as was the Princes Cinema in Smethwick, I think i did go into the latter in the early 60s. The superb Warley Odeon was a striking building originally just called The "Warley" and positioned in such a way that its imposing structure could be well admired.

It seated 1530 and like all Odeons was originally fitted with BTH equipment, it was near to Oscar Deutch,s Edgbaston home and was used for private family parties and apparently the Earl of Dudley used to "borrow" films and operators from here for his private cinema at Himley Hall.
It was "destroyed" when it was converted to a bowling alley as Im sure you remember and as this fad did not last long it was eventually lost for good. I do remember attending a few Saturday morning childrens film shows and as a 6-7 year old was quite impressed with the huge ceiling illumination, my Mum also took me to see Disneys "lady and the Tramp" and probalby "Oklahoma" there as well.


master brummie
As two people have mentioned that the Essaldo was at one time an Odeon which I queried some cog wheels in my brain started turning and I think I was wrong, it was an Odeon for a time and I remember that ABC and Odeon did merge. I found this note in Wikipedia

"....While this was happening, the divested smaller ABC cinemas gained a stablemate under Cinven; in 2000 Cinven bought over the one time rival chain of Odeon Cinemas for £280 million from Rank Group plc[4] and all remaining ABC Cinemas were rebranded as Odeon or were closed. In 2004 the Odeon chain was sold to Terra Firma Capital Partners...." Cinven and Terra Firma are venture capitalists, 'nuff said.

I used to attend the Saturday morning children's matinees at the Warley Odeon. Although it looked a typical Odeon being designed by Harry Weedon, the reason it did not carry the Odeon name originally was that Oscar Deutsch was only a part owner when it was built and it did not change its name until he acquired 100%.

Mike Blakemore

master brummie
"The Warley Cinema" Later Odeon was built by Sidney Clift of The Clifton Cinema Chain. Oscar Deutsch only had 200 shares valued at £100 in both Warley and the Kingstanding Beacon Cinema (later Odeon) There where 50 shareholders in each company... They where both designed by Satchwell and Roberts, with Archbald Hurley Robinson supervising.. nothing to do with Harry Weedon.. Deutsch in his lifetime never took control of these companies. It was after his tragic death, that because of his shares in these companies, Lord Rank got involved when he bought out the Deutsch family Cinema Interests.. It was at this point that Clifton interests and Odeon interest nearly mearged... (Both companies being run from Temple St in Birminghamat the time) J. Arther Rank made them an offer that was difficult to say no to, for the 2 sites...

Basically Weedon was told to copy the style of these Cinemas in all the new Odeons Oscar Deutsch Copied Cliftons methods inc finacing in everyway except for the quality of the build. Deutsch's Odeons where built cheaper....

Bill Parker

master brummie
Oscar Deutch was a clever businessman, I believe he did not have many shares in any on his Odeons, each being a separate Limited liabliity company. He invested quite heavily in the companies that supplied his circuit and he also invited his Cinemas builders to buy shares so he apparently got his cinemas for very llittle personal financial investment.

Returning to the Warley Odeon it was indeed designed by Roland Satchwell, the main elevation being designed by Cecil Howett. Harry Weedon was asked to plan the interior but the interior design ( not neccesarily the same thing) was by Cecil Clavering. This information is from Ned William,s and the book backs up what Mike said regartding its original conception. Thanks for your input Mike.


master brummie
I have just checked. There are 94 companies currently registered now or recently disolved with names beginning "Odeon". There seems to be in many cases two separate companies for each cinema eg Odeon Leicester Square Limited and Odeon Leicester Square Holdings Limited.

For Oscar Deutch to have built up a chain of about 300 cinemas in 10 years, he must have had many different forms of finance for these from outright ownership to outside shareholders to mortages to leases or even just to management contracts for cinemas owned by others.


master brummie
The Essoldo Cinema chain who bought the Danilo was founded by Soloman Sheckman of Newcastle on Tyne. The name Essoldo came from ES, his wife Esther SOL from his own name and DO from his daughter Dorothy.

Mike Blakemore

master brummie
My Family where involved with a number of Theatres and Cinemas as well as builders supplier. Bricks sand cement and Girders wood etc etc they got and cash with a percentage in Shares in the Sites. You must remeber the Dividend paid in those days was the best return you could get on an investment. Later when Rank took over Deutchs Cinema interests They did very very well out of it... in Cash and shares in the Rank Org... (each Odeon and Clifton site had 50 shareholders) If a shareholder wanted to sell his or her shares they had to offer them to the Directors on a pro rata basis... before offering to anyone else... Even the Capitol Cinema Ward End was drawn up by Clift but he failed to take control. We had 50 shareholders (I was one) at the death of the company

The Name "Danilo" was picked by "Dents" wife. Count Danilo was charactor from "The Merry Widow"

Mike Blakemore

master brummie
The Essoldo Company moved it headquaters to Stourbridge when the company passed to the relatives the "Myer Refsons" They spent a considerable amount of up dating the circuit..
Sol Sheckman (like me) was very careful with money... He went to one of his cinemas and the glass displays and doors where dirty. he asked the Manager why.... The Manager replied that his indents for cleaning materials to the HO had been ignored for months... Sol Sheckmans answer was "Cold water costs nothing"... with a stress on the word "COLD" He is one person I would have liked to have met... and compared notes on money saving ideas :eek:)
He also I am told loaned money to Joesph Cohen of TESCO to get him started Hmm I wonder if T ES CO came from The ESsoldo Co


...... fascinating theory, Mike, well spotted!
Wikipedia begs to differ: "The (TESCO) company was founded by Jack Cohen in 1919 and opened its first store in 1929 in Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. The Tesco name first appeared after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T.E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname".
Excellent line of thought though.
Best wishes, David


master brummie
Your might be interesed in the following list from the www.cinematreasures.org website

Danilo Cinemas

Classic movie theaters that currently belong (or previously belonged) to the Danilo Cinemas chain

Name Location Status Screens
Cannon Hinckley Hinckley, Leicestershire, England Closed 3
Essoldo Longbridge Longbridge, Birmingham, England Closed 1
Essoldo Stoke-on-Trent Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England Closed/Demolished 1
Odeon Redditch Redditch, Worcestershire, England Closed 1
Reel Cinema Quinton, Birmingham, England Open 4
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