The removal of Hilton's house and builders yard, together with John Conway Fox’s butcher’s shop, made way for the Bull Ring's most dominant building. Started in 1936, and opened in May 1937, it was a state of the art cinema and flagship architectural creation. The sketch in the opening day programme captured the spirit of the new glittering edifice and the first film, ‘San Francisco’, starring Clark Gable, firmly placed the village on the 'cinema circuit'.
Such style lasted barely forty years before television emptied the seats and a bingo caller replaced the stars of the silver screen. The exterior became shabby as the 1970s bingo hall came to an end in about 1995. The rumours of sale or demolition again circulated.
Then new life was breathed into the shell in 1998 when Wetherspoon's, at a cost of £920,000, started to create a theme pub recalling the glory days of motion pictures. Once more the Clifton was well patronised and had enough traces of its 1930s appearance to please the preservation lobby!
The programme shown here actually belongs to the well known Wolverhampton historian, Ned Williams. He is looking for photographs and further information about Upper Gornal's Picture House and Lower Gornal's Alex. If you've got any knowledge of either of these cinemas please drop us an e-mail and we'll put you in touch with Ned.
The upper photograph shows The Clifton in its newfound glory in March 1999.
The central photographs show firstly the front page of the souvenir programme of Monday May 17th 1937, and an inside page of the programme describing the luxury of the new cinema.
The lower photograph is a shot of the inside pages of the programme, showing details of the first ever film - ‘San Francisco’ , a magnificent spectacular drama, starring - Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald & Spencer Tracy.
Please click on the relevant image if you want to see any of the programme pictures in more detail.