The Windsor Theatre, Bearwood, Smethwick
Once there were many theatres in small towns providing entertainment. As movies grew in popularity, some theatres were converted to cinemas, some closed forever. In turn the small local cinemas closed as multi-screen megaplexes appeared.
The Windsor is a fortunate survivor of changing tastes. Built in the 1930s it could host local and touring theatre companies as well as show movies. It was much more ornate than most of the local cinemas which were largely functional and rectangular. The Windsor was the flagship venue of the entertainment empire of Geoffrey Hewitson. Post war it re-opened as a theatre, in the 1960s it became an ice rink, in the 1970s it was a night club and in the 1980s it turned into a snooker club.
In the last couple of years the owners have brought back some of the early glamour. The original entrance hall is now a bistro and much of the architecture inside and out has been restored. There are so many decorative details to spot on the exterior such as lion’s heads, Greek key borders, hanging foliage, and a variety of curved pediments above windows.
It makes me happy to see buildings like this that have outlived their original function but are still open and alive.