Directing The Kingsway Cinema, 1927




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title




Peer reviewed



The Kingsway Cinema in King’s Heath, Birmingham, opened in 1925 as a super cinema to serve a localised, habitually attending audience. It showed second-run screenings at low prices, and handily out-performed its only local competitor the Ideal. The minute book of the Directors of the Kingsway Theatre Company reveal a striking and unique picture of what the running of such an establishment entailed, and the considerations made by its Board of Directors. Previous business records for cinemas have been instrumental in the furthering of study into cinemagoing and programming practices (see Poole 1987, Harper 2004 and 2006, Jeacle 2009, James 2013), and their rarity highlights the clear value they hold for researchers in the present. The particular characteristics of the records from the Kingsway, namely their detailed minutes of monthly board meetings, allow for yet another perspective on the operation and function of local cinemas. This paper aims to examine a single year in granular detail. 1927 was a year where the cinema seemed to defy the grim forecasts of the depressed economy, where cinema musicians variously rebel and excel, and where the expansionist ambitions of its Directors were tested amidst the threat of competition. I intend to largely let the records speak for themselves, whilst situating them within the context of the pre-Quota British film exhibition industry. By exploring the richness of this dataset, a more specific and particular picture of the life of late-silent period exhibition might be illuminated.


A presentation as part of British Silent Film Festival symposium held at King's College London, April 2016.


silent cinema, film history, cinema, film exhibition, motion pictures, 1920s, british film, cultural history, birmingham, king's heath, west midlands, CEA, interwar


Sibanda, N. (2016) Directing The Kingsway Cinema, 1927. British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King's College London, April 2016.


Research Institute