New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

From Danilo to Reel; The story of Quinton’s cinema

Posted September 13th, 2013 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with 8 Comments

quinton cinemaDanilo Opening

This stunning Art Deco cinema named The Reel is situated on the Hagley Road on the way to Mucklows Hill.

The cinema in Quinton opened its doors in 1939 and was originally called the Danilo.

It was August 7th and the cinema was showing ‘Charlie Chan in Honolulu’ staring Sidney Tuler, the supporting programme before the main feature was Jane Withers in ‘Always in Trouble’.

I remember the cinema fondly as my Nan would take me and my sister for a treat on Sundays.

There was once a traumatic experience when I was 8 years old and me, my sister and Nan were queuing for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and I remember the lady of the cinema breaking the news that the screen was full- I think my heart got a taste of pure disappointment that day, and I expressed it by crying all the way home.

I visited the cinema (known then as the Quinton Cannon) many times and I still remember the cinema having the cartoons before the main feature and the screen was covered by a red curtain, I have memories of the ice- cream lady coming down between trailers offering snacks and goodies.

The cinema was built on the land that housed the Apsley House; the house and land had once belonged to Edwin Danks, a boiler maker who was from Oldbury.

The timing of the Danilo’s opening was overshadowed by the Second World War during which the government ordered that all cinemas were to close until further notice.

 During the early days of war an anti-aircraft gunnery was built at the far edge of the car park, it stayed there until 1971 when it was demolished.

The Danilo was used as a base for the Quinton Home Guard and one time the residents of Quinton Hall were evacuated to the cinema when their coke heap was hit by a landmine.

After a few years the Danilo soon became the ‘Essoldo’, the cinema was a hit with the local community, live shows were on every week showcasing many up and coming talents and bands that followed were a hit and played to full houses.

Through the 70’s the cinema changed hands and a new threat came in the shape of the M5, there were plans to demolish the cinema as it was smack bang in the middle of the proposed route.

The Essoldo owners fought tough to keep the building standing, bringing in services from the QC, eventually justice was served and the road was re-routed.

In 1972 the cinema became ‘Quinton Classic’ and the building took on remodelling to allow it to house three auditoriums.

The grand opening was on July 26th 1973, the three screens were all in full swing; screen one showed ‘Cabaret’, screen two  ‘The Ten Commandments’ and screen three had ‘Sound of Music’.

It stayed the Quinton Classic up until May 1986, after much needed refurbishment and structural changes the cinema became ‘Cannon Cinemas’, after it went under several other names including; ABC, Quinton Odeon and now The Reel cinema.

The decor within the cinema still has its original charm and the feel of history is all around you when you visit, I love the traditional layout of the forum and the auditoriums still feel like they did when I was a kid.

The Quinton cinema has come through some major changes and had to fight through many obstacles, it has stood the test of time and has shown resilience and has constantly proved itself to be a focal point within its community.

Through all the trials and tribulations the Quinton cinema has always come through and I hope it continues to be a success as it houses many memories for me and the people of Quinton.

8 Responses to “From Danilo to Reel; The story of Quinton’s cinema”

  1. Colin Powell June 19, 2020

    Anybody remember the coffee bar accross the road called the Kosovo in 60s


  2. Ken March 29, 2020

    There used to be a cafe alongside the cinema where my mother was a cook (I think) in the 1950s. As a child I would walk up there from Four Dwellings after school when I couldn’t get into the house.


  3. John Higgins October 14, 2017

    Fond memories of going to this cinema up until 1988 when I left and moved to London (where I remain to this day). AIRPLANE played for a record 53 weeks in 1980 – 1981 and fond memories of seeing the original cut of STAR WARS twice here in 1978. The last film I saw in 1988 before I left was BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED in Screen 1


  4. John Powell March 15, 2017

    My mother when she came out of the WRAF in 1945 became secretary to the manager of the Danilo. I cannot remember his name. She worked there for over 10 years. On the 50th anniversary of her joining she was afforded a private visit with me of course. I have the programme somewhere. Cannot remember the film, it was about three idiots who rob a bank (American). Any ideas? Can you remember the name of the restaurant across the road fro the Danilo, I think it had a thatched roof. Be interested in any replies


  5. Andy Shepherd December 7, 2013

    I remember going to the ‘Essoldo’, although everyone still called it the Danilo, every week from around 1962 to 1964 for the childrens Saturday Afternoon Cinema. It was 6d for the stalls and 9d for the circle with 4d for a Zoom ice lolly in the interval.

    The programme was always a cartoon, a black & white comedy short (such as Laurel and Hardy), the main film then finishing with the serial (usually on a space theme such as Flash Gordon).

    One Christmas there was an extra – a performance from a live pop group – you need to remember that this was the time of Beatlemania, and girls in the audience were screaming at the group throughout their performance.


  6. Simon Buteux September 18, 2013

    A fascinating story. I remember going there in the 1980s – a ‘proper’ cinema. I don’t know why it had to keep changing its name every five minutes though – worse than a pub!


  7. Joanne September 16, 2013

    Thanks for your comment, lovely to hear from you.


  8. Suzi September 16, 2013

    This brought back many memmories for me……going to the cinema with my children, my late Husband Steve, and my Mother May….Also my Mother was a cleaner at the cinema in the eighties and told us all that it was haunted.


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