The Gaumont

The Gaumont

The Gaumont Palace Theatre

An eye-catching landmark at the end of Colmore Row, where the Wesleyan building now stands, for many Brummies the Gaumont was the place you visited for a treat. Initiallly launched as the Gaumont Palace Theatre with Ronald Colman in Raffles, on opening the Mercury announced that “8,000 electric lamps, fifty miles of electric wire and 60,000 feet of steel tubing” had been used in construction of the building. The Compton organ which emerged from beneath the stage was a particular attraction.

During the 60s the Gaumont pulled out all the stops to fight off the threat of television, including an extensive refurb and installing the largest screen in Europe to accommodate Cinerama. From May 1965 it showed The Sound of Music on 70mm for three years and three months, and in the 70s it was the place where many joined long queues down the side of the building for blockbusters like Star Wars and Jaws. It remained defiantly single-screen until its last screening in 1983 (Graham Chapman in Yellowbeard), and was finally knocked down in 1986.

“Birmingham can now boast the distinction of having the biggest cinema screen in the country – 95 ft. around the semicircle and 32 ft. high. Patrons will be able to take in a sweep of 146 degrees by barely rolling an eyeball.”

Colmore Circus, Steelhouse Lane, B4 6AR

Charles Smitton Plays the Gaumont Birmingham Compton organ in the mid-1950s.

Click any image to open lightbox

Click any image to open lightbox

“This universal shocker will have its first Birmingham turn at the Gaumont Palaxe – if the Public Entertainments Committee does not think it too gruesome for local consumption. I understand that a deputation of city justices will attend the Steelhouse lane cinema on Monday morning for a private view of the picture […] Only people with strong nerves will be able to sit through the film without feeling horrified.”

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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Saw Starwars there in 1977 with my auntie

Saw Star wars there 1977. Cinema Demolished the Wesleyan Assurance now sits on the whole site.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ed Evans

I saw James Bond Live and Let Die amongst other Bonds . A Boxing Day treat

Fond memories of watching many films there. Was there to watch THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK on June 15th, 1980 to a packed house. Also saw the likes of DRAGONSLAYER, ROBIN HOOD, STAR WARS / EMPIRE double-bill (May 1982).

Always found seeing the posters for the films I was not old enough to watch at the time like THE OMEN / DAMIEN: OMEN II double bill, THE ROSE and ALIEN amongst others.

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