Royalty Cinema

308 High Street,
Birmingham, B17 9PU

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: Horace G. Bradley

Styles: Art Deco, Beaux-Arts

Nearby Theaters

Before the Fire

Located in the Harborne district of southwest Birmingham, at the corner of High Street and Greenfield Road. The Royalty Cinema was opened on 20th October 1930 with Maurice Chevalier in "The Love Parade". It was built for and operated by the local independent Selly Oak Pictures Ltd.

The Royalty Cinema was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in March 1935. ABC closed the cinema on 2nd November 1963 with Cliff Robertson in "P.T.109". It was converted into an Alpha Bingo Club (operated by ABC) and later a Mecca Bingo Club. In 2010 it was operating as a Gala Bingo Club. It closed around 2012. The empty building suffered a minor fire in November 2017, and again at 4am on the morning of September 19, 2018 when a major fire all but destroyed the building.

In the summer of 2011, the Royalty Cinema was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

MASTG on October 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I lived in Harborne in late ‘40’s early 50’s, and well remember going to the Royalty – Was surprised to see the huge bill-board is still there! Any one remember, when “Gone With The Wind” was showing that wind blew the bill-board down?!

handlebar on February 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm

We lived directly opposite the cinema. I could look through the window to see what was on. The Royalty was a somewhat posh cinema. If you had little money you went in the stalls through it’s own entrance (extreme right on picture) and queued down the side. The better off entered through the front doors and paid at a separate box office. The stalls crowd went down little steps and entered in front of the screen. Projection was from under the balcony. A huge place with excellent sound and picture. When Cinemascope was installed two large boards at opposite ends of the building proclaimed ‘in the wonder of Cinemascope’.It was actually quite impressive (unlike the Picture House up the road). They took the brown curtains down and replaced them with a frilly descending curtain that covered the wide curved screen. The place had an odd smell (Jeyes fluid?) but was always full until the advent of t.v. Films ran Mon to Wed and Thurs to Sat with old and often abridged films on Sundays. I expected a three hour show. Two films, Pathe News, Adverts, trailers and sometimes a Pathe Pictorial. The show would finish with the National Athem but folk would rush for the exit to avoid it!! They had a lively ABC Minors Saturday Morn kids club. When it started all the children previously attending The Picture House club left (free badges, Birthday presents etc.) and joined the new one. The Picture House (known as The Old Harborne) kids club closed as it’s audience had gone. I remember them showing a 3D film called ‘Metroscopix’ with red and green glasses. A ladder came out of the screen!! Another gimmic was a film called ‘House on Haunted Hill’ in a process called ‘Emergo’ It was simply a wooden coffin on stage which opened to allow a plastic skeleton to pass on a wire over the heads of the audience about ten minutes from the end of the film!! You could buy the ABC film review on your way out to read of the coming films and stars. Maurice Smith worked there and I used to help him on Saturdays. The Cinema is now closed and terribly run down. The people of Harborne should be ashamed that they have a single screen gem in their midst and have let it go to wrack and ruin. If only I lived back home I’d have tried to do something about it. Is it too late??

PaulB52 on April 17, 2015 at 5:34 am

April 2015 photographs here:

PaulB52 on April 17, 2015 at 5:36 am

If those links don’t work, go to flickr les veuves photostream and look at the album named ‘Birmingham Cinemas’

sjh123 on January 3, 2016 at 7:53 am

Hi I wonder if any one could help me with my research for a conservation plan that I`m currently undertaken of the Royalty Cinema Harbourne Im with the Birmingham City University study Conservation of the Historic Environment.

I see some great feeds about past history if people could add to that it would be great. What was local competition like if any at all. What kind of people attended . Any public bar inside the building . Any information would be appreciated

handlebar on January 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Hi sjh 123,

I was born and lived directly opposite the Royalty until leaving Birmingham in 1961. If I can help in any way I’d be happy to.

Dave Groves

70mmbobbyj on November 15, 2017 at 6:28 am

Well surprise, there’s been a fire.

70mmbobbyj on September 19, 2018 at 1:16 pm

A couple of pictures of the devastation. “Ready for the property developers”

rivest266 on July 17, 2022 at 8:12 am

Grand opening ad posted.

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