Built by Birmingham businessman Sol Levy, later responsible for the Futurist and many other cinemas around the country, the Scala described itself as ‘the home of good pictures and music’ and boasted an in-house Scala Quintette led by violinist Handel Timperley.
Its first manager was Graham Cutts, who went on to be a well known director in the 1920s, and the cinema produced its own magazine the Tatler, written by Levy’s wife Lilian Laine.
Demolished in 1960 to make way for the ring-road, it was so special to the area that when a new cinema opened around the corner in 1964 it paid tribute by calling itself the Scala Superama. You can still spot traces of the name in the area today, including Scala House and the Scala Subway.
Smallbrook Street, Birmingham, B4 4HE
“When the Scala Theatre reared itself on that derelict land, the allegorical phoenix rising from the ashes could not have been a more surprising sight; the eyesore of the squalid frontless shops disappeared; for that reason alone the Scala was welcomed. It was erected at a time when amusements were at a low ebb in this city. It was a new sensation then to go to the pictures, and the new theatre in Smallbrook Street was freely discussed.”