The Electric, Birmingham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Electric Cinema, Birmingham)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Electric
  • Select Cinema
  • Tatler News Theatre
  • The Jacey
  • The Classic
  • The Tivoli
The Electric in 2005
Address 47-49 Station Street
Coordinates 52°28′36″N 1°53′55″W / 52.4766°N 1.8987°W / 52.4766; -1.8987
Owner Thomas Lawes Media Ltd
Current use
Opened 1909 (1909)

The Electric is a cinema and sound recording facility in Birmingham, England. It opened in Station Street in 1909, showing its first silent film on 27 December of that year, and is now the oldest working cinema in the country.[1][2] It predates its namesake, the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, London, by around two months. Originally called the Electric Theatre, the cinema has undergone a number of name changes since its opening, but returned as the Electric in October 1993.


In the 1920s, the cinema changed its name to the Select, showing a programme of silent movies. In the 1930s, tastes changed and in 1931 the cinema became an amusement arcade.[1][2] In 1936 the cinema was bought by local entrepreneur Joseph Cohen. It was rebuilt by architect Cecil Filmore and reopened as the Tatler News Theatre, the second in the city.


After World War II, with television becoming increasingly popular, attendance at news theatres declined. In the 1950s, the cinema changed its focus and became the Jacey Cartoon Theatre. This did not last for long and in the 1960s, it became the Jacey Film Theatre, mainly showing a programme of art house and continental pictures.

For much of the 1970s, the cinema was a shadow of its former-self, largely showing pornographic films.[1] The early 1980s saw a revival, with the cinema taken over by Lord Grade's "Classic" chain and split into two screens. This incarnation did not last for long and in the mid-1980s it became the Tivoli. In 1993 it was bought by Bill Heine and managed by Steven Metcalf.[3][unreliable source?] They also reverted it to being called the Electric.[2]

A contemporary work of art called Thatcher's Children by artist John Buckley was installed in the windows on the front of the building, with the intent to shock and attract publicity to the opening of an art cinema in Birmingham.[4]

The Electric closed, however, on 12 December 2003.[5]

Renovation and reopening[edit]

The cinema was put up for sale and was quickly purchased by a local entrepreneur, Tom Lawes.[2] After a £250,000 refit and renovation, the cinema reopened on 17 December 2004. The building was restored to its original 1930s Art Deco look from photographs taken during that period; there being no plans of the earlier design surviving.

In recognition of its centenary in December 2009, local MPs Tom Watson, Khalid Mahmood and Richard Burden raised a motion in the House of Commons stating that the House:[2]

recognises the value of independent cinemas to the cultural and social life of local communities; celebrates the continued success of Britain's oldest working cinema, The Electric in Birmingham; notes that on 2 December 2009 a centenary celebration is taking place for the cinema that started life as a silent movie theatre, became a news theatre during the Second World War and succumbed to dereliction in 2003.

Two doors to the east of the cinema is the Old Rep theatre.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Electric cinema celebrates its centenary". BBC News. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Walker, Jonathan (3 December 2009). "Birmingham's Electric Cinema congratulated in House of Commons". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links[edit]