German city unveils West Midlands academic's insight into historic cinema

Dr. John Goodyear explaining his caption on the Donnerschwee information board to Werner Spaeth and Sigrun Spaeth of the Bürgerverein Donnerschwee (Photo by Gerd Schütt, MiO-Foto).

A University of Birmingham expert made the 630-mile journey from the West Midlands to northern Germany to see the unveiling of a public sign about his research into an abandoned British army theatre and cinema.

German Teaching Fellow Dr John Goodyear has spent the last year uncovering the history of the building, operated by the Army Kinematic Corporation and known as ‘The Globe’, in the north-western German city of Oldenburg.

Now the city council has erected an information board, known in German as an ‘Info-Tafel’, covering his research. Similar large green public displays are dotted around the ity, providing information and insights into various sites or quarters.

Earlier this year, Dr Goodyear was formally invited by the City of Oldenburg to submit a German-language contribution on his research into the former British military cinema and theatre located in the district of Donnerschwee in the northern part of the city.

His independent research and eyewitness interviews conducted since January 2018 form part of the efforts by the Globe Theatre and Cinema Trust to safe and rescue the Globe cinema and theatre in Donnerschwee in the northern part of Oldenburg.

The West Midlands-born academic joined forces with British Army and the Bundeswehr to help strengthen bonds between German and British soldiers through his research into their shared entertainment history.

His appeal for help researching the landmark building’s history prompted former service personnel serving in Oldenburg in the 1950s to come forward from across the UK to tell their stories of the army cinema.

Dr Goodyear commented: “I was delighted to see the information board unveiled and hope that helps the people of Oldenburg to uncover a fascinating part of their city’s history which they share with the UK.

“My research revealed that the Globe provided an important connection to home for soldiers stationed in the city, with service personnel speaking in glowing terms about The Globe and providing historical material to illuminate the life of the building.”

Dr Goodyear revealed the initial findings of his independent research project to a special audience in Oldenburg earlier this year, with members of the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) attending.

Exhaustive research took Dr Goodyear to archives in Oldenburg, Koblenz, and Freiburg in Germany. He also used archives in the UK - with the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library providing valuable information.

Built in 1954 by the Army Kinematic Corporation (A.K.C.), The Globe acted as a cultural hub for officers and soldiers, many of whom were conscripted national service personnel, away from home for the first time.

Dr Goodyear’s cultural history of the historic building will also help to form a blueprint for future use of the 400-seat theatre. Volunteers in Germany raised 275,000 euros to buy the abandoned listed building and work starts soon on transforming the building, built at the Donnerschwee barracks, Oldenburg, in 1954, into a regional cultural venue.

Buying, refurbishing and restoring the building in line with historical building regulations will cost some 1.5 million euros. The Trust is seeking funding from grants, sponsors, donations and crowdfunding.

ENDS

For interview enquiries and photos, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)121 414 8254. For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7789 921 165

Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world's top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • For more information about the GLOBE Theatre and Cinema Trust project, visit https://www.globe-oldenburg.de/English.html
  • The British Army built and operated cinemas for troops stationed in Germany, but nearly all of these facilities built between 1947 and 1957, are either derelict or have been demolished.
  • The German Army took over the barracks in the late 1950s but abandoned the site in 1991, since when it remained deserted until redevelopment began in 2015. Following re-development of the Donnerschwee site to a residential quarter, there are now 850 apartments in the former barrack buildings, most of which have listed building status.