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Opened in May 1913 as the New Picture House, it was a project of Irving Bosco who went on to form Bosco’s Pictures Ltd in 1920. It was located at the main intersection of Heathfield Road, Villa Road and Lozells Road.
The building was a wonderful example of an early picture palace that was beginning to replace the former shop conversions of half a decade before. The facade was dominated by a huge round ‘Rose’ stained glass window over the main entrance doors. Inside the auditorium, there were sculptured decorative panels on the side walls proclaiming ‘The World Before Your Eyes’ that were guarded by statuary of angels and cherubs. All very charming! Seating was provided in stalls and circle.
The cinema became part of the small Shapeero circuit and it was re-named Villa Cross Picture Palace. It was taken over by the Denman/Gaumont circuit from March 1928 and they continued to operate through the rest of its cinematic life, eventually becoming part of the Rank Organisation. It closed on 20th April 1970 with Rock Hudson starring in “Ice Station Zebra”. It went over to screening Asian films of the Bollywood type for a while and then was converted into a Bingo Hall which closed down in September 1984.
Sadly the Villa Cross Picture House found itself right in the middle of the Handsworth race riots of 9th September 1985 and it was badly damaged in an arson attack by the rioters. What remained of the building was finally demolished in 1989.
A sad demise of a cinema building that today would certainly be worthy of Listed status.
(copyright Ken Roe)
A great photo Chris B ,but there must have been sound other wise it wouldn't have Talkies on the building ? Oh i see you have changed the caption now Chris B, where you said it was a photo taken before sound, makes my comment sound daft and out of context. Thanks
Great photo Lyn. Could be completely wrong on this but is this half of that cottage? It's opposite what was the Villa Cross pub. We discussed this cottage somewhere else on the forum. I vaguely remember the cottage might be listed.
Sad to see that having demolished the cinema all that's in its place is a car park. Viv
cant be certain if its part of the cottage viv..the cinema took up much more space than the building that was originally there...im sure i have a old pic showing what was next to the picture house..will try and hunt it out
hi eric go to vivs post 74...that used to be next to the villa cross cinema and was a sweet shop so could be the one you are thinking about...we use to go in there and buy a glass of tizer for a penny...happy days..