Past Glories Come Back
Beck and Windibank Dip into History
From The Supplement to the
Cinema News and Property Gazette, January 9th 1925
Few cities outside London
are as unique in the vicissitudes of its theatres and picture
houses as Birmingham. A town of multifarious industries, its
expansion has been somewhat rapid. The progress of town planning
has ruthlessly stamped out old buildings and erected modern
stately piles. It is regrettable that with this expansion and
the extraordinary development of its far-reaching suburbs, with
their local cinemas, several old pioneer amusement halls in
the city lost their popularity.
The three most notable and at one time most popular
halls in Birmingham were the Gaiety,
(later known as the Hippodrome),
and Curzon Hall. All three have had their doors closed for some
years, during which time the buildings have been used for a
variety of purposes. It is a happy omen that simultaneously
all three halls have undergone reconstruction.
The old "Tivoli,"
is one of the most interesting. It is built almost entirely
of terra-cotta. A spacious, lofty building, with conspicuous
tower, it was in the old days a popular rendezvous, though the
war brought many changes. During the last ten years it has been
used by the Government and municipal authorities as Labour Exchange,
Local Government offices, and afterwards a dining hall for unemployed.
Now it is to come into its old glory. For the past twelve months
extensive inside rebuilding has been in progress. We are glad
to know that Messrs. Beck and Windibank, Limited, the Birmingham
firm of theatre furnishers, with such world-wide reputation,
are entrusted with the complete furnishing.
Another old Birmingham theatre belonging to those
far-off days, when comfort in seating and charm in furnishings
were little thought of, is the Theatre
Royal. This has been claimed to be the oldest provincial
theatre, the present building being 150 years old, though
Beck and Windibank have in hand the complete refurnishing of
a still older provincial theatre, which bears, strange to say,
the same title, namely, the Theatre
Royal of Bristol.
theatre is one of the old Royal Patent Theatres, and the
Royal Coat-of-Arms is still to be found above the proscenium
arch ; also the old Royal Box so frequently used by the Kings
of England is still in existence. The following is an extract
from an old programme:-
Theatre Royal was erected in 1766, and opened by David Garrick.
The old front was pulled down in 1904,
and the present modern structure erected; the interior of the
theatre is, however, unaltered structurally from the date of
opening, and the old pit, the Royal Box, and the wonderful sounding
board ceiling is often visited by antiquarians from all over
It may also be of interest to know that this
theatre, after being closed for some little time, was opened
at Christmas with pantomime by Mr. Douglas Millar, the new lessee
and manager, in conjunction with Mr. Milton Bode, of the County
Theatre, Reading, who are both very well known in the profession.
It is being entirely redecorated and refurnished, the latter
contract having been entrusted entirely to Beck and Windibank,