Avion Cinema - Aldridge
A mid-sized suburban cinema in an area of the West Midlands, near Walsall, the Avion Super Cinema looked remarkably like an original ‘Odeon’ but was never owned by that circuit.
Finished in cream glazed faience enlivened with green bands and a black base, there is a huge window lighting the circle foyer with entrance doors underneath the central canopy.
The auditorium is a dull brick box behind the facade. Neon lighting was much in evidence at night.
There was also a small stage and several dressing rooms. Seating was divided between the stalls and single balcony. The auditorium was decorated in shades of rose-dubarry and silver with the Art Deco style plasterwork picked out in green.
Several different colors of seating was used to create diametrical patterns when viewed from the stage.
The cinema opened on 26 September 1938 with a personal appearance by George Formby followed by his latest film “I See Ice”. It then settled into an uneventful routine mainly showing films but with around six full weeks of variety shows on the stage.
No major changes were made to the design of the building and it eventually closed on December 30, 1967.
It became a bingo hall almost immediately after and continued for over 40 years.
In 2001, the faience tiles were in poor condition and were removed with the walls underneath being rendered and painted - this has considerably smartened up the facade and indicates that the Avion was scheduled to be around for some years to come. Unfortunately, due to increased Government taxes on bingo, the Gala Bingo Club was closed on 1st August 2009, and the building was put up for sale.
Source: Cinema Treasures 2012