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
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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.”