The Beaufort

The Beaufort

One of the more unique architectural oddities to emerge during the cinema-building boom, the Beaufort was a mock Tudor mansion which sat at a major crossroads in Ward End, on a plot of land which had been a popular spot for travelling showmen. Forgotten film star Jameson Thomas was present at the grand opening in 1929, where slices from a huge ‘christening cake’ were distributed to a full house. In 1937 the cinema gained 500 in capacity by extending out the back, losing its Compton organ in the process. Even during its declining years the place retained its 30s charm.

Visitors recall the rose motif, the hand-carved lions, the stained glass kings and queens – and a fearsome doorman who policed the entrance. After demolition in 1979 the oak staircase was decanted to a house in Wales and the stained glass shipped to America.

2 Coleshill Road, B8 2NA

Photographs of the Beaufort in summer 1975, taken by John Fernee.

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“Sir,-Coun. Robert Howard is to be congratulated on his campaign to save the Beaufort Cinema, Ward End, Birmingham from demolition. There are very few buildings of architectural interest left in this city – those which were not destroyed by the German Air Force have been destroyed by the post-war planners. Coun. Howard’s suggestion that the cinema might become a branch of the Midlands Art Centre is excellent. It is, however, a great pity that the fine Compton organ, made famous by Reginald New, was removed from the cinema several years ago.”

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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As a child I would visit the Beaufort. As I grew older I worked for the Birmingham builders, Morris and Jacombs. It was said that they owned this cinema and indeed the Atlas not far away. M&J’s plant hist company was called SALTA. Atlas backwards. Anybody know if this is true. They were also heavily involved with Birmingham City Football club. I remember in the winter of 63 labourers from the site I was working on were bussed to the Blues ground to clear the pitch.

Happy days.
I used to go to their child Saturday am matinées in the 1950s. Hopalong Cassidy and Flash Gordon!
I even went on later to work for a small company who hand painted the posters.
The giant poster was written out in long strips across a long bench and pasted up on site.I lived on the Firs Estate and the Beaufort was on my bus ride home.some Fridays, I was tasked with getting off the no.28 bus and delivering next week’s posters to the managers office. I would then catch the next bus home. I was offered the occasional free showing, but was too keen to get home to my tea after a long day at the poster writing company in Coventry Road, Small Heath. No Netflix or You Tube either!
A Gordon. 4/2024

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