The Bristol

The Bristol

ABC Bristol Road, Cannon Bristol Road

The Bristol Cinema was built on the site of the old Edgbaston Conservative Club in Spring Vale, and a stream had to be diverted to make way for it. Designed on a nautical theme, on opening night in 1937 the Evening Despatch described it as having “a style that is at the same time futuristic and artistic.” Initially independent, the cinema was taken over by ABC in 1944 and renamed the ABC Bristol Road in 1959. With its large capacity and prominent location it was often used for event screenings, including a Midlands premiere of The Winslow Boy in 1949 and a British Film Festival in 1951.

1963 saw the installation of Cinerama, and for a brief time the Bristol boasted the UK’s biggest screen outside of London. It was split into three screens in 1972, and after a year as a Cannon Cinema it closed for good in 1987 following fifty years in operation. The building was demolished shortly afterwards and a drive-through McDonalds now stands on the site.

5 Bristol Road, B5 7TT

“A DECISION of considerable importance to film-goers has just been made by the Associated British Cinemas. Starting on 8 January, the Bristol Cinema, Bristol Road, Birmingham, will present only first-run pictures which will bring it into line with the big city houses. This decision has been made because of the increasing number of Warner. M.G.M. and A.B.C.-Pathe pictures piling up. Until now, their only showplace in Birmingham’s centre has been the small (1,261- seater) Forum Cinema. The larger Bristol Cinema (1,710 seats and. car park for 400) will now help out and considerably speed-up releases of pictures to the suburban cinemas.

Click any image to open lightbox

“My recent note about underground streams in Birmingham prompted Mr. A. W. Rogers, who operates a number of suburban cinemas, to write recalling that when he built the Bristol Cinema at Spring Vale in 1937 a stream had to be diverted into the drains, with the result that there is now a continual stream of piped water across and under the cinema.”

Winslow Boy premiere at the Bristol.

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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