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Report - - The Majestic Cinema - Cradley Heath - Oct 2018 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Majestic Cinema - Cradley Heath - Oct 2018


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Got Epic?
Regular User
Cheers to @clebby and @mockney reject for their efforts on this one. This was the last derelict cinema in the West Midlands i had not been able to gain access to. Its one of those where you would access a part and think you were in only to find yet another barricaded door or dead end just around the corner and end up going home empty handed! The guys had been along last weekend and with a bit of persuasion managed to finally get in the auditorium. Unfortunately however they had more or less straight away triggered an alarm and decided to make a hasty retreat without getting many photos (so here i am to steal the show!). I returned with Clebby this weekend and armed with a bit of extra knowledge of what to expect and a bit of patient probing we managed to get to see a good 90% of the building with no alarms whailing..

I cant say that this was a very photogenic theatre but that wasn't really what the explore was all about. The main attraction here was the (or at least the possibility of the) original Christie cinema organ surviving in its original position. In terms of derelict theatres this is an extremely rare occurrence. To my knowledge there has only been 4 others out there. The first at the Walthamstow Granada was never explored and the building (and presumably its Christie organ) is now being put back into use. The second and third at the Grays State and Margate Dreamland Theatre i have been lucky enough to see, however in both cases i have only managed to see the organ consoles and not that actual 'workings' of the beast. The State's organ was badly vandalised a few years after we explored it and Dreamland has also been renovated so really the Majestic was the last chance to see the whole thing and yeh, luckily we did find it still in situe and did get to see it all this time! It was also rather nice that it was finding one that not even the experts were quite sure was still there. This is what really motivates me about exploring. Getting in places and filling in the gaps not only in other explorers knowledge but the world as a whole. 'Proper exploring' if you like.. ;-)

The rest of the cinema was actually not too shabby either. The main auditorium was used by the Hawk Cycle company as a warehouse for bike parts. I had heard they had 'vacated' in 2013 but really they must have just gone bust as all the bike parts are still in there rusting away. This kind of spoilt the auditorium a bit but behind the scenes things were quite different and a lot more interesting. The projection room was pretty damn good. No projectors but lots of other kit and all very old. The place hadn't showed films since the 60s so i guess its expected that there would be little modernisation up there. The floor below the projectors had various rooms with nicely painted signs and a crawl space under the circle with quite a section of old packaging. We finished our explore in the old circle bar are where there is an array of pretty epic but in reality probably a bit passed it stained glass. (In the basement there are apparently some rectifiers but you can blame clebby for the lack of photos of those.. ahem... :p)

All in all i really enjoyed this explore so cheers again to everyone who's ever looked at this really. Team effort usually wins in the end! Id give it a solid 8/10 as they go!

cinematreasures said:
Located in Cradley Heath, Staffordshire in the West Midlands. The Majestic Super Cinema was opened on 27th March 1933 with Anna Neagle in “The Flag Lieutenant”. Designed by Dudley based architectural firm Webb & Gray, an unusual feature for this Art Deco style building is a leaded glass window on the circle stairs, which depicts Heraldic images. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels. Sound equipment was provided by Western Electric(WE). The proscenium was 36 feet wide, and it was equipped with a Christie 3Manual organ that was opened by organist William Sykes, who soon also became the cinema manager, and held those positions until he retired in 1958. The Majestic Cinema was always independently operated.

The Majestic Cinema was closed on 2nd November 1963 with Doris Day in “Jumbo” and Terry-Thomas in “Kill or Cure”.

It was taken over by the Leeds based Star Cinemas group, who re-opened it as a bingo club named the Majestic Casino. They operated the Saturday morning childrens cinema club from January 1964 until the Cinematograph License expired. The Christie organ was restored in 1973, and was played on the Friday evening bingo sessions for many years. In 1984, organ concerts were held with noted organists Phil Kelsall and Doreen Chadwick featured players. By then the bingo club was operated by a local bingo club Birmingham based bingo club operator Jarglen Ltd. In 1999, it became part of the Gala Bingo Club chain, and they closed the building on 31st March 2000.

Since then the building has been used as a warehouse for the locally manufactured Hawk Cycles, but by 2013, I believe they have vacated the building, and its stands unused, with only two of the shop units operating as an adult bookstore. I presume the Christie organ is still in the building?

Auditorium - The photos dont come across that well be really the plaster work and what not in here was fairly decent. I guess the place is way too rotten to ever be brought back into use but if you did and you got rid of the gaudy paint scheme and the annoying shelves full of junk i think it could actually look pretty good for a small cinema. Far from plain!

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Organ - The organ here is what is known as a 'splay wall' design where the pipes etc are off to one side of the stage in a double decker arrangement behind false boxes. We couldn't actually get into the workings through the official access but luckily the crappy shelving in here allowed us to climb up and get these photos of what remains of the pipes and percussion section through the sprung loaded organ shutters.. I have to say i am no expert but this organ appears to be in a pretty bad state and has pretty much collapsed under its own weight. The console was in much better (although hardly perfect) condition. I found an old photo from the Cinema Organ Society that shows Mel Edwards playing the organ after the building became a bingo hall. They have the following to say about it

Mel kept the Christie playing in the Majestic after it became a Bingo Club in 1963, and was responsible for a full overhaul of the organ during 1975. Towards the end of 1989 it was decided that the organ would no longer be featured, Mel was made redundant, the console was unceremoniously boarded over and the organ grills bricked up. The Christie remains in the building, which ceased to be used for entertainment purposes in 2000 and it now stands empty.
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Projecton Room etc. - Note the red windows in the projectionists booth thought these were a nice detail.

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Circle Bar (and some goodies)


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mockney reject

Just Married
Staff member
Moderator
Well done and thanks for going back.
After two run ins with the stroppy neighbour and then the alarm going off we had enough for one weekend.

Looks ace :thumb

When we ebaying the bike parts lol lol
 

clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
(In the basement there are apparently some rectifiers but you can blame clebby for the lack of photos of those.. ahem... :p)
Just as we were leaving I asked if you wanted to try the basement despite the risk of triggering the alarms, and you said no! :rolleyes:

Enjoyed this one, glad the rumours of the organ turned out to be true.
 

Seffy

SWC | Bally up!
Regular User
If access hadn’t been so ridiculously tight I’d have had some of those bike bits!

Well lit photos mate - you saw some bits I didn’t tbh.. (arc rectifiers not included that is :D )
 

dweeb

Super Moderator
Regular User
Be intersting to see the rest of that stair window without the boards, its crazy!
 

Pinkman

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Well that was rather enjoyable :D

Nice coverage of the place, & by the looks of things there it's well worth a visit. Lots of original features, lovely organ, & the old wrappers were a nice touch.
Good work to you & the other guys for getting this one done.
 

mookster

grumpy sod
Regular User
That's a cracker, I'd had this pinned for ages but never knew what it was like inside. Top job.
 

Mini nut

My local and favourite, gone.
Banned
I`m so glad you did this one as it`s not at all far from me and I`ve always been curious about it. Excellent photos especially of the organ. When I brought up the subject of the organ on Facebook a while back and mentioned it was unplayable everybody poo-poo`d that saying as how there had been a concert there just a few years ago! There won`t be any more I`m thinking. Wish I could have been with you on this one, great report.
 

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