Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres, Music Halls, and Cinemas in Kidderminster, Worcestershire

The Rose Theatre - The Playhouse Theatre - The Opera House - The Wooden Theatre Royal - The Theatre Royal - The Oxford Ampitheatre - The Eagle Music Hall - The Empire - Westley & Pott's - The New Theatre - The Warehouse Cinema - The Electric Theatre / Grand Theatre - The Central Theatre / ABC - The Hippodrome / Royal Bijou Theatre - The Futurist - The Empire

The Playhouse Theatre, Comberton Hill, Kidderminster

Formerly - The Wooden Theatre Royal / The Opera House / The Royal Cinema Deluxe

The Playhouse, Kidderminster in 1951 - From a Programme for the Playhouse Theatre November 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Above - The Playhouse, Kidderminster in 1951 - From a Programme for the Playhouse Theatre November 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

A Programme Cover for 'The Merry Widow' with the George Edwardes' Company 'Direct from Daly's Theatre, London,' at the Opera House, Kidderminster in November 1916 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.The Playhouse Theatre in Kidderminster opened on the 18th of November 1946. The Theatre was a conversion from the former Opera House which had originally been built by Messrs John Dallow and Company of Blackheath, and designed by Messrs Owen and Ward of Birmingham, opening on the 5th of October 1903 with a production of 'Floradora.'

Right - A Programme Cover for 'The Merry Widow' with the George Edwardes' Company 'Direct from Daly's Theatre, London,' at the Opera House, Kidderminster in November 1916 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

The Opera House however, had itself been built on the site of a former Wooden Theatre known as the Theatre Royal, which had had a capacity of 1,500 and opened on November the 16th 1891 with a production of Shakespear's 'Hamlet.' This Theatre only survived for twelve years however, before it was sold for £250 to be replaced by the Opera House in 1903.

The Opera House was used as a Cinema for part of its history, called the Royal Cinema Deluxe, but live theatre was revived in 1926. But this was to be short lived and the Opera House eventually became a wartime food store in 1939.

The New Opera House and Royal Cinema Deluxe, Kidderminster in 1931 - From a Programme for the Playhouse Theatre November 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Above - The New Opera House and Royal Cinema Deluxe, Kidderminster in 1931 - From a Programme for the Playhouse Theatre November 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

a Programme Cover for 'The Rosary' at the Kidderminster Opera House and Cinema De Luxe - Date Unknown - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.In 1945 the Nonentities Society bought the old Opera House for £6,000 and set about rebuilding the Theatre, which they achieved in just 18 months, and opened it on the 18th of November 1946 as the Playhouse Theatre.

The Nonentities Society were in occupation of the Playhouse for the next 22 years but sadly they were forced to sell the Theatre when it was compulsory purchased in 1968 to make way for a large traffic island on the ring-road. The Theatre was subsequently demolished in 1969. Eventually the Nonentities Society found a temporary home at St. Oswald's Hall, Broadwaters, but now reside in their own purpose built Theatre called The Rose Theatre.

Right - A Programme Cover for 'The Rosary' at the Kidderminster Opera House and Cinema De Luxe - Date Unknown - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

There now follows some extracts from the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951, which was produced to celebrate the fifth year of its opening by the Nonentities Society:-

The Playhouse

Tickets for the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy Ted Bottle.Tickets for the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Above - Tickets for the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

A Souvenir Programme Cover, celebrating five years of the Nonentities Society at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection. The Playhouse is not one of those old theatres about which linger the ghosts and recollections of Victorian or yet earlier times, nor have the feet of Kemble, Kean, or the great Irving ever trod its stage. Built 43 years ago, its early memories are all Edwardian, and yet it was only the latest of a long line of theatres of varying degrees of permanency dating back at least to 1780, and all standing on or near the Station Hill site.

Right - A Souvenir Programme Cover, celebrating five years of the Nonentities Society at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Seating Plan for the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection. The immediate predecessor of the New Opera House, as it was first called, was a wooden structure known as - The Theatre Royal," which, ending with "The New Mephisto" in May, 1903, was ignominiously sold for £250 and translated elsewhere. But the town had not long to wait, for in the summer of the same year the present theatre, phoenix-iike, began to rise, and by October stood revealed.

Left - A Seating Plan for the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Built by Messrs. John Dallow and Company, of Blackheath, and designed by Messrs. Owen and Ward, of Birmingham, it was fit both by gas and electricity, had seats of crimson plush, and carpets specially woven on Kidderminster looms, with a drop cloth that showed a view of Stourport Bridge; in fact it was, in the words of the Chief Constable of the time, - as good a little theatre as I have ever seen.

The Auditorium of the Playhouse, Kidderminster - From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Above - The Auditorium of the Playhouse, Kidderminster - From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

In the presence of Sir Frederick Godson, M.P. for Kiddeminster, and his Liberal opponent, Mr. Barnard, the theatre was opened as befits an Opera House with the musical play, - Floradora presented by a Ben Greet Company. No doubt the speeches, bouquets, and prologue in 18th century couplets, all added to the gaiety of the occasion. "TheMariners of England" with the story of Nelson and Trafalgar stirred the hearts of those who returned the following week.

The Foyer of the Playhouse, Kidderminster From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.And so the venture started: but shadows of its future fate loom early across its destiny.

In 1905 Edison and Barnum's Electric Animated Pictures, with scenes from the Russo-Japanese War steal across the stage, to creep in again two years later. There are other signs of change too. In March, 1909, a company arrives at 1.45 p.m., on a flying motor car tour, for one night only. By 1911, the Cinema is really here, taking turn by turn with the legitimate drama.

Right - The Foyer of the Playhouse, Kidderminster From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

The Opera House, Kidderminster whilst in use as a Wood Store in 1939. From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.In March, 1926, under Sir Arthur Carlton, the old Opera House renews its early youth and sprouts the verandah still to be seen on its two sides: a new curtain is designed-impressionist of course; the stage revealing, as ever, ' the body of the time his form and pressure.' But alas! its days as a theatre are numbered and it passes rapidly to its decline. Converted to a picture house in 1931, it finally ceases to amuse at all, and becomes eventually a mere storehouse, dark, lifeless, and abandoned to its dust.

Left - The Opera House, Kidderminster whilst in use as a Wood Store in 1939. From the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

It is from such sad neglect that Mr. Rose and the Nonentities, with the threefold aid of state, town, and townsfolk, seek once more to raise it.

Yet we must not emphasise the decline and forget the joy of living, for, each in his day and generation, have many graceful players trod these boards, and taken to the road again among them -Edmund Tearle, Frank Cellier, George Robey, Violet Vanbrugh, H. B. Irving, Leslie Henson, Vesta Tilley, Albert Chevalier, Stella Patrick Campbell, Jose Collins, Harry Tate, Frank Benson, F. Forbes Robertson, Bransby Williams and Pavlova. Shakespeare and Shaw, Jones and Pinero, Houghton and Coward, have all had their say and gone. Nor must we forget the swelling opera, the bright musical Comedy, and the gay revue, so much beloved of Kidderminster.

All this is the worthy heritage of the past-and now-rechristened, refreshed and renewed-ring up again the Curtain', M.T.H.C.

The Playhouse Past Present and Future

Programme for 'Lady of the Night' at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in May 1947 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.Though only fifty years old, the Playhouse-or the New Opera House as it was first called-comes of a long line of theatres on the same site. Tradition says that Sarah Siddons played here: but H. B. Irving, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Vesta Tilley, Forbes-Robertson and Sir Frank Benson, certainly did; and within recent memory Pavlova, Harry Tate, Jose Collins and many more. Animated pictures cast their first shadows in 1905. In 1926 drama made a come-back under Sir Arthur Carlton, but the day of the Picture Palace had arrived, and soon the Opera House became derelict, ending up as a wartime store.

Right - A Programme for 'Lady of the Night' at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in May 1947 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Programme for Ballet Rambert at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in January 1950 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.For years everyone urged everyone else to acquire this white elephant, and oddly enough a London combine was about to open negotiations, when the Nonentities Society announced to a startled audience that they had bought it for £6,000. A minor miracle of de-requisitioning and rebuilding was accomplished in eighteen months. A last-minute insistence by the magistrates on steel and still more steel almost wrecked the time schedule, but punctually to the chosen day, November 18th, 1946, Sir Barry Jackson declared the Playhouse open. At the last moment, police regulations deprived the theatre of coat-hanging space; perhaps as well, for it was a bitterly cold night, and no amount of stoking could keep out the draught.

Left - A Programme for Ballet Rambert at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in January 1950 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Repertory Programme for 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in Feb / March 1960 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.But the Playhouse was open, and open it has remained for five years of constant struggle, borrowing and repaying, with never a penny in reserve, fighting with its back to the wall, against apathy and abuse. In the end it has won through. The £19,000 which the theatre cost to buy, restore and equip, should, by the Fifth Anniversary Night, have been paid off to the last penny and in half the time that was originally planned.

Right - A Repertory Programme for 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster in Feb / March 1960 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

Programme for 'Babes in the Wood' in December 1967 / January 1968, one of the annual Pantomimes at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.The stars of these five years are mostly in the making; promising young artists who have won their spurs here, and are now winning laurels at the Old Vic and other leading theatres. But there have been acknowledged stars too; names like Sybil Thorndike Eileen Herlie, Walter Midgley, to set beside the giants of the Edwardian days.

Left - A Programme for 'Babes in the Wood' in December 1967 / January 1968, one of the annual Pantomimes at the Playhouse Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

What of the future? The Screen, in home or hall, depends upon the living theatre for its artistes. The Playhouse will go on, loved and abused, to carry out its next five year plan of perfecting its workshop; cradling talent of all kinds; and making its unique contribution, that of amateurs and professionals working side by side, to the World of Theatre.

The Above text is from the Playhouse Souvenir Programme of November the 19th 1951 - Courtesy The Margaret & Brian Knight Collection.

The Rose Theatre, Chester Road North, Broadwaters, Kidderminster

The Rose Theatre was built for the Nonentities Society who had formerly occupied the Playhouse until its demolition. It is named after Kenneth Rose who was chairman of the Society and sadly died shortly after hearing that he had won the Lands Tribunal case against the loss of the Playhouse Theatre, which had been compulsory purchased in 1968 to make way for a large traffic island on the ring-road.

The Rose Theatre consists of a modern fully equipped theatre, with seating for 181 people and a smaller studio Theatre that has a capacity of up to 60 people. The Rose Theatre is run as a charitable trust by the Nonentities Society who produce amateur and professional productions all year round.

You may like to visit the Rose Theatre's own Website here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Empire Theatre, The Horsefair,Kidderminster

The former Empire Theatre, Kidderminster, in May 2018 - Courtesy Roger Harrison

Above - The former Empire Theatre, Kidderminster, in May 2018 - Courtesy Roger Harrison, who says 'The main shell of the building survives with a new front elevation and construction to the right hand side as you look at the front of the building. The property is being converted into apartments in the next few weeks so all of the interior features will be covered over.'

The Empire Theatre in the Horsefair, Kidderminster opened in July of 1922 as a Cinema with stage facilities and was home to Variety shows and film presentations, sometimes at the same time (see posters below). The Theatre ran successfully until September the 20th 1958. The building survives to this day, as can be seen from the photographs, but it was converted into apartments in May 2018.

The rear elevations of the former Empire Theatre, Kidderminster, in May 2018 - Courtesy Roger Harrison.

Above - The rear elevations of the former Empire Theatre, Kidderminster, in May 2018 - Courtesy Roger Harrison.

Two posters for 'Pictures and Variety' at the Empire Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy Christopher Harris

Above - Two posters for 'Pictures and Variety' at the Empire Theatre, Kidderminster - Courtesy Christopher Harris whose Grandmother Marie Sinclair, "That Brilliant Soprano" is featured on the Bills.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Electric Theatre, Mill Street, Kidderminster

Later - The Grand Theatre

The former Grand Theatre / Electric Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Above - The former Grand Theatre / Electric Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle who says 'I took this photo of the former Grand Theatre in the 60s or early 70s. Sadly I have no note of what it was being used for at the time. The entrance seems quite narrow. I cannot make out the wording, if it is wording, above the top window and the two ornate brackets are minus their lamps.'

The Fly Tower of the former Grand Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle.The Electric Theatre in Mill Street, Kidderminster first opened as a small Cinema on March the 26th 1910. However, in 1915 the building was enlarged and refurbished and reopened in December that year as a live Theatre called the Grand Theatre.

The Grand Theatre, which had seating for just over a thousand people, had a stage 25 foot deep and 25 feet wide at the proscenium opening, and was also equipped with four dressing rooms for its artistes. It staged variety shows along with film presentations for many years.

Right - The Fly Tower of the former Grand Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

In 1929 the Grand Theatre became the first in Kidderminster to show 'Talkies', using a Filmophone sound system, beginning the experiment on the 12th of September that year. However, the Futurist Cinema would follow suit just a week later on the 16th of September 1929 so the Grand's moment as the leader wouldn't last long. In 1937 the Grand's sound system was updated with a Western Electric one.

The Bioscope carried a small article about the Grand Theatre in their December the 16th 1931 edition saying:- 'Manager Blent, of the Grand, Kidderminster, believes in making his programme serve a dual purpose. Instead of the usual monthly programme, Mr. Blent issues a monthly blotter carrying the super attraction on the front with the whole month's fare in the centre, the remainder of the blotter carrying advertisements. I thought this out myself," says the manager, "and it has resulted in a nice profit from the advertising revenue, as well as being popular with patrons."' - The Bioscope, 16th December 1931.

The auditorium and stage house of the former Grand Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Above - The auditorium and stage house of the former Grand Theatre, Kidderminster in the 1960s / 70s - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

The Grand Theatre would remain in business until it was finally closed on February the 7th 1959.

A visitor to the site, Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd, writes:- 'In my time Bob Gudgeon was manager of the Grand and somehow, I'm advised, combined these duties with employment as a factory worker with a Mill Street carpet manufacturer.' - Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Central Theatre, Oxford Street, Kidderminster

Later - ABC

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Central Theatre, Kidderminster today - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Central Theatre, Kidderminster today - Click to Interact. The Building to the right of the modern store is the only surviving part of the Central Theatre today, which originally had a retail unit on either side of the Theatre when it was first constructed.

The Central Theatre was situated in Kidderminster's Oxford street and built for Independent Kidderminster Central Theatre Ltd. The Theatre was designed by the architectural company of Webb and Gray with an auditorium on two levels, Stalls and one Circle, and had a stage with a 40 foot proscenium. The Theatre was considered to be the town's finest Cinema and had a Christie 3 Manual / 10 Ranks organ with raising platform which cost £2,617 to install. The Theatre opened on the 5th of October 1931 with a seating capacity of 1,250.

Alderman F. J. Ballard, J.P. Managing Director of the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From the Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.The Bioscope reported on the new Theatre in their 7th of October 1931 edition saying:- 'The new undertaking erected in Oxford Street, for the Kidderminster Central Theatre, Ltd., opened on Monday, the ceremony being performed by the Mayor of Kidderminster. The house has a seating capacity in the neighbourhood of 1,500, and possesses the first Christie Unit organ in the Birmingham and Midland area. Plans for the house were prepared by Webb & Gray, of Dudley, and the managing director of the company, Alderman F. J. Ballard, Deputy-Mayor of Dudley, (shown right) has as co-directors B. J. Clancey, A. J. Crump, D. Griffith, Dr. R. F. Griffith, F. G. Goodyear, W. Lloyd, A. E. C. Phipps, G. R. Woodward and G. F. Webb. The house possesses all the latest appointments, has Western Electric sound equipment and provides car parking accommodation for 100 cars.' - The Bioscope, 7th of October 1931.

Right - Alderman F. J. Ballard, J.P. Managing Director of the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From the Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.

Guy Hindell, Organist at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From The Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.The Bioscope went on to carry details of some of the people involved with the Central Theatre in their October the 14th 1931 edition saying:- 'Alderman F. J. Ballard, J.P., chairman of directors of the new Central Theatre, Kidderminster, is a "self-made" man and not ashamed to own it. His commercial interests are of a most extensive character, while in the entertainment world he can claim associations extending over a period of years, for he was the moving spirit behind the scheme for the erection of the Criterion, Dudley, which was acquired some little time back by the P.C.T. Another scheme of Alderman Ballard's is the Central Theatre, Stourbridge, of which he is managing director.

Left - Guy Hindell, Organist at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From The Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.

Guy Hindell has been appointed solo organist at Central Theatre, Kidderminster, where a three-manual Christie organ was opened recently. Mr. Hindell comes from a family long connected with music; in fact, it is said his ancestry can be traced back to Handel, the famous composer. Commenced at five years, under his father, organ studies were interrupted by a smashed hand, but at 11 he conducted his first Cathedral service. Further studies at King's School, Rochester, led to Guy Hindell organ scholarships and ultimately to Jesus College, Oxford, as an organ scholar. A pupil of Sir Hugh Allen, Mr. Hindell finally turned his attention to the cinema organ, and prior to his present appointment was solo organist for 21 years at the Super Cinema, Oxford.' - The Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.

And in their 21st of October 1931 edition the Bioscope reported on the Chief Operator of the Central Theatre saying:- 'H. Ponchery, who has been appointed chief operator of the Central Theatre, Kidderminster, was one of the first engineers to handle the Western Electric equipment, with which company he was engaged for some time. Before joining the Central staff, he was responsible for the maintenance of talking picture equipment on board the luxury liner The Empress of Britain.' - The Bioscope, 21st of October 1931.

In their 14th of October 1931 edition the Bioscope reported in greater detail on the construction of the Central Theatre with the Headline:-

Kidderminster's Aptly-Named "Central" 1,500 Seater in the Heart of the Town

A Christie Organ as installed at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From an Advertisement for 'Christie Organs' in the Bioscope, 21st of October 1931.In their acquisition of so central and convenient a site, the directors of the Central Theatre, Oxford Street, Kidderminster (which opened on Monday, October 5th), are distinctly fortunate, for it is not often easy to find in the centre of a town sufficient area to meet the demands of the modern cinema. Besides the building itself there is also a car park with room for over 100 cars.

Right - A Christie Organ as installed at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From an Advertisement for 'Christie Organs' in the Bioscope, 21st of October 1931.

The front elevation is symmetrically arranged, and is constructed in white reconstructed stone, with shop accommodation on both sides. The central entrance is protected with a built-in canopy, extending the whole width of the pavement, over which are a set of ornamental leaded light windows. Three sets of wide double doors lead into an imposing crush hall of ample proportions, the pay-box being arranged against the back wall facing the main doors, with an advance booking kiosk and patrons' telephone box on the right and a chocolate and sweet shop on the left.

Fan-Shaped Auditorium

Turning to the left one approaches the back stalls through a spacious foyer, with semi-circular furnished lounges, and to the balcony by a wide carpeted staircase, leading to a large landing and foyer. A separate entrance and pay box for the front of the house is planned on the right-hand end of the site, where is arranged a long covered waiting space.

The house provides seats for 1,500 patrons - 500 in the balcony and 1,000 in the stalls. A feature of the Central is that the balcony stairway lands patrons at a level half-way up the balcony rake, thus saving the exertion necessary in many theatres of first climbing to the highest stage and then descending to the balcony seats.

The auditorium in plan is fan-shaped - a recognised ideal, both acoustically and from the seating point of view, accommodating the greatest number of people at the best distance from the picture, each having a clear unobstructed and undistorted view of the screen. Decorations in the auditorium are carried out in light tones, while towards the proscenium on each side are two sets of decorative grilles. Gothic in style, with elaborate decorative plaster design on a blue background.

Exits on Three Sides

Over the proscenium is a further grille, running the whole length of the stage. The front of this is ornamented with a design in tongues of flame and circles of from 1 in. to 3 in. in diameter in vivid blue, further enhanced by a concealed system of lighting, which, projected through the flame and blue glass of the grille, provides a very cosy and warm atmosphere.

Tip-up seats are provided throughout, liberally spaced, and giving ample leg room, with the chairs in the balcony also equipped with hat holders under the seats. Seating in the auditorium is arranged in three blocks, with two wide carpeted gangways and ample exits.

In this respect it is interesting to note that, from the point of view of safety, the total width of the exit doors amounts to approximately 50 ft. - considerably more than the width of Oxford Street, where the theatre stands - while the exits discharge on three of the four sides of the site, thus reducing to the minimum any risk of congestion.

Heating is by low-pressure hot water, from a boiler situated in a special chamber at the rear of the stage. Ventilation is on the most modern lines, with silent electrically driven fans in the roof and under the balcony.

A special feature has been made of the lighting installation, which is on the three colour system. In the centre of the ceiling of the auditorium is a large multi-coloured lantern, while towards the front are round hanging lanterns in vivid flame colour. Over the balcony section are a series of vari-coloured circular lights in pillar formation, and, in addition to concealed lighting around the walls of the auditorium, are opal lanterns and large decorative lights under the balcony.

Kalee Machines With W.E.

When the stage lighting is thrown on, the curtains, which normally are of a light self colour with simple ornamentation in a serrated design, take on a delightful series of delicate pastel shades. Organ interludes are provided by means of the Christie organ - the first installation of this instrument in the Midlands - the console of which is built upon an hydraulic lift.

An Advertisement for 'Christie Organs' as installed at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From the Bioscope, 21st of October 1931.

Above - An Advertisement for 'Christie Organs' as installed at the Central Theatre, Kidderminster - From the Bioscope, 21st of October 1931.

The operating department is well equipped, having sound system by Western Electric, which functions in conjunction with the latest Kalee rear shutter projectors and their high intensity arc lamps.

The Central Cinema has been sponsored by "Kidderminster Central Theatre Co., Ltd.," a private company with a capital of £30,000, of which Alderman F. J. Ballard, deputy Mayor of Dudley, is the chairman. The architects responsible for the scheme, including all details and decorations, are Webb & Gray, LL.R.I.B.A., of Dudley and Stourbridge, who were the architects of the Central Cinema, Stourbridge. A. J. Crump & Sons, Ltd., Dudley, were the builders and main contractors, and the sub-contractors included:-

Structural steelwork, Gibbons Bros., Dudley; fibrous plaster, J. Mallin & Co., Ltd., West Bromwich; heating, H. E. Pritchard & Son, Kidderminster; electrical work, B. French, Ltd., Kidderminster; ventilation, Thos. Ash & Co., Ltd., Birmingham; seating and carpets, W. W. Turner & Co., Birmingham, the carpet made in Kidderminster by Brintons; terrazzo flooring, Jaconello, Ltd., Birmingham; ironmongery, Parker, Winder & Achurch, Ltd.. Birmingham; internal plumbing and decorating, S. Perkins, Dudley; electric light fittings, J. A. Hunt., Birmingham; canopy, Morris Singer & Co., London; leaded light windows, T. W. Camin; Smethwick organ, Hill, Norman & Beard, London; organ console lift, Henry Miller & Co., London; sound system, Western Electric, London; projectors and operating room equipment, E. A. Langrish & Co., Birmingham; uniforms, H. Attwood. Ltd., Kidderminster.

The Above Article on the Central Theatre, Kidderminster was first published in the Bioscope, 14th of October 1931.

The Central Theatre was bought by The Associated British Cinemas group (ABC) in November of 1935 but it wasn't renamed the ABC until the 27th of January 1964. The ABC closed as a single screen Cinema on the 19th of February 1972.

The Cinema was then converted by turning the former Stalls into a Bingo Hall called the Alpha Bingo Club, and the former Circle was converted into a smaller 484 seat Cinema. The organ was removed at this time and the whole of the new complex opened on the 1st of June 1972.

A Google StreetView Image of one of the retail units which were originally situated either side of the former Central Theatre, Kidderminster. It is the only remaining remnant of the Theatre today - Click to Interact.Sadly the whole building was closed on the 1st of May 1982, and then, after much vandalisation over the following years, the building was demolished in December 1984. However, one of the retail units which were originally situated on either side of the Theatre when it was first constructed does still stand at the time of writing in 2017, see image right.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of one of the retail units which were originally situated either side of the former Central Theatre, Kidderminster. It is the only remaining remnant of the Theatre today - Click to Interact.

There are some good images of the Central Theatre, Kidderminster on the excellent Cinema Treasures Website here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

A visitor to the site, Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd, has kindly sent in some information on this and other Theatres in Kidderminster saying:- 'As a man in his 78th year, my memory of Kidderminster, my birth-town, remains pre-eminent in my teenage years of circa 1950. In this era, Kidderminster boasted of four cinemas plus the theatre on Station/Comberton Hill known as the Playhouse. In rising order of opulence they were: the Empire situated in the Horsefair, the Grand in Mill Street, the Futurist in Vicar Street, and the Central in Oxford Street.

Bob Gudgeon was manager of the Grand and somehow, I'm advised, combined these duties with employment as a factory worker with a Mill Street carpet manufacturer. Futurist manager was a Mr. Lloyd, who resided in Lea Bank Avenue and I was at school with his son Keith. I am still in touch with the latter.

I was a member of the Central Cinema's ABC Minors in 1950. I sat in the circle: Block 13. In those days, the Central's normal admission charge was: Circle; three shillings and sixpence, 17.5 new pence, and downstairs; two shillings and sixpence, 12.5 new pence. The Saturday morning ABC Minor's showing was excellent value at a ''tanner'' - 2.5 old pence when 240 pence equalled the pound sterling with the 'A' film, the 'B' film, the continuing cowboy/Western film ''We'll head 'em off at the pass''! Pearl & Dean adverts, forthcoming attractions, news items, and a sing-along accompanied by ''Uncle'' (who-ever) seated at the three-manual Christie pipe-organ. Those were the days! The organ at the Central was apparently removed in about 1958 and was broken down.' - Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd 2014.

The Oxford Amphitheater, Green Man Yard, Kidderminster

The Oxford Amphitheater in Green Man Yard, next to the Green Man public house, opened in 1868 but had a short history and was closed by the authorities because of drinking of alcohol in the building out of hours.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

Eagle Music Hall, Mill Street, Kidderminster

Later - The Theatre Royal

The Eagle Music Hall in Mill Street was converted into the Theatre Royal in 1867.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

Westley & Pott's, Coventry Street, Kidderminster

Westley & Pott's in Coventry Street, Kidderminster was opened in 1836.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The New Theatre, Worcester Street, Kidderminster

The New Theatre in Worcester Street, Kidderminster was opened in 1852 and was a rebuild of an earlier temporary Theatre on the same site which was built by a Mr. Moore in 1850.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Warehouse Cinema, Green Street, Kidderminster

The Warehouse Cinema in Green Street, Kidderminster is a three screen modern Cinema built on two floors which opened on the 15th of April 2006, and is a conversion from a former derelict carpet warehouse.

You may like to visit the Website of the Warehouse Cinema here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Hippodrome, Mill Street, Kidderminster

Later - The Royal Bijou Theatre

The Hippodrome Theatre in Mill Street, Kidderminster opened on the 25th of April 1910.

The Theatre was later renamed the Royal Bijou Theatre and reopened on the 6th of February 1911 with continuous performance but closed in March of the following year.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

The Futurist Cinema, Vicar Street, Kidderminster

The Futurist Cinema, in Vicar Street, Kidderminster opened on the 21st of October 1912. The Cinema closed on the 23rd of June 1962.

A visitor to the site, Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd, writes: - 'The Futurist had a very long carpet-walk to the box-office in majestic fashion. After the buying of seats, the purchaser was swiftly brought to earth whether seated upstairs or down. I used to park my bicycle at the rear of the cinema that necessitated a walk along a pier above the stinking river Stour – running in many a different colour depending on a carpet manufacturers’ die-house. Kidderminster was the world’s carpet town. The Futurist's manager was a Mr. Lloyd, who resided in Lea Bank Avenue and I was at school with his son Keith. I am still in touch with the latter.' - Geoffrey Arnold Lloyd.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me here.

Arthur Lloyd and his Company performed in Kidderminster in 1872 whilst on their 'Two Hours Genuine Fun' tour.

Some of the information on this page for Kidderminster's Theatres and Cinemas was gleaned from 'Kidderminster since 1800' by Ken Tomkinson & George Hall, published by the authors in 1975.

Other Pages that may be of Interest