The Alhambra

The Alhambra

Alhambra Rock Theatre 

This was the second “atmospheric” cinema to appear in Britain after the Lido in Golders Green, London. The term “atmospheric” was used to describe cinemas such as the Alhambra that intended to create an illusion of being outside when one was in the auditorium and it had originated in America, perfected by architect John Eberson.

Therefore, the directors of the Robin Hood Theatre, S. Steven, Leon Salberg, and S. W Switt took it upon themselves to bring this idea to Birmingham and the Alhambra was created. This particular cinema based its auditorium on the Moorish style of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

For those coming in, they would be met with an entrance hall decorated with a tiled patterned floor and if they stopped to look up once in the auditorium, they would see a blue ceiling arching above, showcasing a ceiling light at the centre made to look like the sun. Aside from this, the Alhambra also had imitation marble columns and blue velvet curtains embroidered with gold which added to the intended splendour of the palace-inspired cinema.

In the thirties it became part of the ABC chain, and then in the late sixties it was leased by ABC as an Asian cinema, briefly diversifying into rock gigs until  closure and demolition in 1974.

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367 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath,  B12 9DE


The staff of the Alhambra Cinema, Moseley-Road, Birmingham, suspecting that someone was sleeping there at night, kept watch and conducted a midnight search of the building. 

The second operator, Leslie John Bridgewater, of 28 Middleton Road, Kings Heath, saw a gas jet burning in the women’s staff room. From behind a closed door a voice said, “alright officer.” The door opened and a figure dressed in Army uniform and holding his boots in his hands, came out. 

Today, the man, Walter Thomas Colman who said he was a deserter from the army, was sent for trial at the next Quarter Sessions by Birmingham Stipendiary, charged with having been found by night on enclosed premises with intent to commit a felony. 

Mr M.P Pugh, prosecuting, said the man had said to the police, “I am a deserter: I went in to get some food. There was also an alleged confession that he entered a house by way of a coal cellar grating and stole 3 pound in money.

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We’d love to hear about your film-going experiences in Birmingham. From memories of amazing screenings or communal experiences, to grand days out at the pictures or more personal recollections. How has visiting the cinema shaped your life, and your experience of our city?

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