The Savoy

The Savoy

The King’s Norton Palace of Varieties 

Replacing the Cotteridge Picturedrome, the King’s Norton Palace of Varieties was opened in 1921 on Pershore Road, Birmingham.

First run by Frank Calvert who had previously run the Picturedrome, the cinema was run by managing director A.A James alongside Frank Calvert and his wife, Lilian. Initially, James faced opposition to building the site by the Managing Housing Committee due to concerns that cinemas, as ‘non-essential buildings’ would cause shortages of materials and labour in the local area. However, after making his appeal, they were able to begin building.

Costing £30,000, the Palace was spaciously kitted with staff facilities, dressing rooms, and large ventilated halls to combat cigarette smoke that would cloud the pictures.

The cinema is infamous for the tragedy of Frank Calvert’s death in 1922 (see news story opposite). Following Calvert’s passing, Lilian took over his managerial duties. In 1933 the cinema was acquired and renamed ‘The Savoy’ by CS Dent. The Savoy continued to screen pictures until 1958 when it was closed and replaced by the Savoy Works factory. Today, the site and surrounding area continues to be used for industrial purposes, currently serving as a plumbing shop.

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The Coroner’s inquiry yesterday into the tragic occurrences at the King’s Norton Palace of Varieties, Cotteridge, during a matinee performance, last Saturday, revealed some dramatic evidence. Whilst the entertainment was in full swing, the manager of the cinema, Frank Calvert aged forty-seven, fell from the roof into the body of the hall, receiving such injuries that caused his death.

Few people in the audience seemed to have been aware of the tragedy and the entertainment was uninterrupted for some time.

Robert Pollock, the electrician and operator, said his attention was attracted by a number of children running out and shouting : “There’s a man fallen through the ceiling.” Deceased was lying on the floor between the front seats and the orchestra.

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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