Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments
I think that the photo of the rear of the auditorium was taken post 1973,after closure as a cinema, as the old exit doors are boarded over.
The architect was Edward G.de Wilde Holding, built for the Wessex Kinema company.
The auditorium of the old cinema behind the shop, has now been redeveloped into housing.
It should be noted that this cinema is a fine example of the work of W.R.Glen, architect.
The Kings had a stage and fly tower but was very rarely used for stage shows. This whole stage house has now been demolished and bricked up at the proscenium.
When it was converted to a bowling Ally, the whole of the auditorium was demolished, leaving the huge front foyer frontage and upper stories remaining in front of a low newbuilt section for the bowling.
I have added two photos of the sides and rear which show a fine example of Earnest Robert’s brick box functional cinema architecture. As with all of his cinemas the plainness is in stark contrast to the Art-Deco splendour inside.
Three windows have been inserted into the front elevation which was the old projection box area. Most of the old cinemas
interior is now destroyed or hidden from view by false walls, ceilings and floor.
Danilo now demolished, another part of the history and character of Stourbridge gone forever!
So sad and frustrating, another loss to the character and history of Stourbridge!
I worked as a house manager here in the late 80’s and got to know the building very well. I would just like to clarify how it got to its present six screens. In 1974 it was converted to three screens, one in the circle and two in the stalls. In 1975 a fourth screen was added in the upper part of the stage house/fly-tower which was entered from a long corridor down the eastern side of screen one. The new auditorium was entered from the screen end and a projection box built within the old fly-tower on the rear wall. Next to it a staircase, built in the old dock door scenery area, descended to the street. The old stage and dressing rooms became squash courts and offices. In 1977 screen one in the old circle was divided into two, making five screens in total. Later, the squash courts on the old stage were converted into a sixth screen, when a new leisure complex and squash courts were built behind and adjoining the building. Very confusing but this is definitely what happened!
The Gem is listed in the Kinematograph year book of 1940 but then never again. Became a shop and then a
car showroom after the war until demolition in 1982.
Opened 4th Feb 1929.The architect was RW Sampson for Arthur Ellis and the Grand Cinema Company.A fire destroyed the auditorium in 1956.The foyer became a restaurant and the land behind redeveloped.
In the 1955 rebuild the auditorium was turned around with the screen at the high Street end behind the small foyer and entrance.A new projection box was built at the rear of the building. I remember the cinema standing intact but unused in the early sixties.
The frontage and foyer now remain but the auditorium and the rest of the building are now gutted.Another great loss after the demolition of the Odeon to the fine cinemas Stourbridge once had.The original stage lay lost and forgotten behind the new widened cinemascope proscenium along with the dressing rooms. It was used in the 1920s and 30s for Variety and repertory.I remember it in the 60s as the ABC, being very smart and well run with its traditional long ornate auditorium, barrel-vaulted ceiling and ABC house style chandeliers and a steep balcony. The high new wide proscenium ,screen and curtains blended in well.
Clearly this is what is left of the proscenium.
This is the top of the proscenium.
It is worth going into this bookshop if only to spot the remains of the old cinema. The right hand wall has been knocked through to the adjoining property to enlarge the shop.Note the stars on the ceiling, the top and upper sides of the proscenium, the foyer with its original terrazzo tiling and the old projection box with signs of the ports behind the books plus the fire lantern in the ceiling.The building still has a cinema feel to it!
Nice to see this of the Lyttleton, I have fond memories of this fine cinema.Does anyone have any views of the auditorium that they could share?
I remember working there as an usher in 1976,tearing tickets in the balcony. The staff rooms were back stage in the old dressing rooms. It was great to go back on to the disused stage behind the screen which was all intact and full of atmosphere of its past history as a theatre.
I discovered further details for this cinema when researching for my now published book “Theatres and Cinemas of Sidmouth”. The original concept of the building was to have been a public hall but in the latter stages P.E.Steadman was asked by the proprietors – Radway Estates – to redesign the building as a theatre. This he did, mainly by altering the frontage and adding a projection and re-wind room for films. I found no mention of the architect William Henry Watkins being involved in this building. It did go over to films in December 1929 but soon reverted back to live theatre use. Strangely it was re-named “The Palace” for one year only, in 1936. It was used many times as a theatre during the 1930’s, through the war and well into the 1950’s. However, films were presented more than live shows and it was always regarded as a cinema. The proscenium was widened in 1954 for Cinemascope and again in 1966 when modern wall to wall curtaining was installed by a firm called “Modernisation”. It still survives today and is operated by Scott Cinemas with WTW Cinemas.
This was a fine large art-deco cinema by Earnest Roberts. I remember it well and have added some more photos.
Fantastc art-deco proscenium. The decorative house tabs were replaced by a large silver festoon when cinema scope was introduced in 1954.I remember it well with its colourful stage lighting effects.
View from the stage on opening day.
This was a fine example of an 1930’s Earnest Roberts cinema .Bold red brick exterior with a vast art-deco streamlined auditorium.The site is excavated into the hillside with the front stalls and stage being ten feet below ground level.This resulted in a very low rear elevation but a high handsome frontage.This was ruined when a unsympathetic extension was built onto the front, hiding the tall stained glass upper foyer windows. This had the shortest life of all of the Stourbridge cinemas, a mere 23 years. People remember it more now from its Bingo and nightclub days that followed the closure. In a very reconstructed and altered form the building at the moment is still there in Hagley Road.