Merseyside’s beloved and lost cinemas now confined to history

In Merseyside, many of the city’s cinemas are now confined to history.

Before streaming services like Netflix, Now, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, theaters were the place to see the latest blockbusters and new movies.

In Merseyside, cinemas or movie houses were found on most street corners and served as the backdrop for many dates, family outings and school trips.

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Some of the old haunts have since been converted into bingo halls, supermarkets or completely demolished.

And it wasn’t just movies, as the programs would also include news and cartoons.

We take a look at some of our lost picture houses and what they have become now.

Gaumont Cinema, Park Road, Dingle



Gaumont Palace Cinema

This 1,500-seat Art Deco building opened in March 1937 to moviegoers at the corner of Dinge Lane and Park Road.

The art deco building was built to replace the old Dingle Picturedome and functioned as a cinema for almost three decades.

In the 1960s, the building was transformed into a premier bingo club.

It is now empty and unused for several years, although it has been bought and resold by potential investors looking to transform the site.

Last year, the old Gaumont was put up for sale by Venmores Auctions, who have since confirmed that it was sold to an unknown bidder.

The Graphic Cinema, Boaler Street, Kensington



Alive Believers Church building on Boaler Street, Kensington
Alive Believers Church building on Boaler Street, Kensington

Today a church – called Alive Believers Church and Community Center – owned by Boaler Street in Kensington was once a cinema and described itself as a luxury.

Graphic cinema, as it was called, opened on May 12, 1922 with the American silent film “Idols of Clay” made in 1920, starring Mae Murray and David Powell.

A copy of the film survives in the archives of Gosfilmofond in Moscow.

The cinema had 630 seats and a small balcony and seats were provided in stalls and circular levels.

But in 1932 it was taken over by another company and renamed Cozy Cinema and screened films for moviegoers for another 26 years.

But the cinema unfortunately closed in 1958 and its last screenings were the films Zarak and Cha, Cha Cha, Boom.

After drawing its last curtains as a cinema, the building was later used as a meat storage warehouse owned by ER Hughes Ltd.

It was also used at one time as an outboard motor showroom and warehouse.

However, the building became a church about 20 years ago, which remains today.

ABC Cinema Lime Street



The old ABC cinema on Lime Street
The old ABC cinema on Lime Street

Lime Street was once dominated by three ABC cinemas – the large one overlooking St John’s Shopping Center and the Main Station, as well as its two smaller cousins, the Futurist and the Scala.

The grand overlooking St John’s looked majestic in its heyday.

The original building still exists, but in a very different form which is far from its past glory.

In November, it was reported that a “number of options” were being considered for the future of the site – three years after the council gave the green light to plans to make it a performance venue.

The Mayfair, Huyton



The site of the old 'Mayfair Cinema' above Boots in central Huyton. (Pic Andrew Teebay).
The site of the old ‘Mayfair Cinema’ above Boots in central Huyton. (Pic Andrew Teebay).

The Mayfair at Huyton Villlage opened in 1937 with the movie The Plainsman, starring Gary Cooper, and could accommodate 676 people in the stalls – as well as 333 more on the balcony seats above.

Many nicknamed the Mayfair “the ranch” because it was popular for showing many old westerns.

The Huyton Cinema closed on April 30, 1960, showing I’m All Right Jack with Ian Carmichael as the final screening.

Now a Boots chemist stands in his place.

If you look above Huyton’s Boots Pharmacy today, you can see the building’s external structure.

The Reo Cinema, Longmoor Lane, Fazakerley



The Reo cinema in Fazakerley in 1933
The Reo cinema in Fazakerley in 1933

First opened on April 1, 1933, the Reo made its debut with the film Where’s George.

The red brick building had the auditorium parallel to Longmoor Lane and was a popular location in its day.

ABC closed the cinema on January 14, 1961.

It lay empty for many years until it was transformed into the Mecca Bingo Club, before closing again for renovation in the mid-1980s.

In 1998, the Mecca Bingo Club finally closed its doors and the historic building was demolished to make way for housing.

Mayfair Cinema, Aigburth Road



Liverpool cinemas are revisited in a new book by Keith Rose titled After the Pictures The Mayfair, Aigburth Road in 1969
Liverpool cinemas are revisited in a new book by Keith Rose titled After the Pictures The Mayfair, Aigburth Road in 1969

Stunning images from 1969 show the Mayfair Cinema on Aigburth Road in its prime.

It opened on May 1, 1937, along with Educating Evans, and was one of Liverpool’s first suburban cinemas.

The cinema had a capacity of 1,750 people.

His last film was The Last Picture show on June 23, 1973.

It then became a Mecca bingo club, but was later demolished in 1984 and a Kwik Save supermarket was built there.

ABC Cinema, Argyle Street



Fire at the Old Classic Building on Conway Road in Birkenhead
Fire at the Old Classic Building on Conway Road in Birkenhead

In Birkenhead, two main theaters attracted visitors: the Classic on Conway Road and the ABC on Argyle Street.

Although they’ve been closed for a long time, they were both still standing until last year.

A devastating fire led to the flattening of the old Classic building – most recently a nightclub – in April. Meanwhile, the Argyle Street cinema – which has become a pool hall and fitness club – was also demolished, to be replaced with a parking lot.

Majestic cinema, rue Daulby



The original Majestic, Daulby Street, Liverpool.  Undated
The original Majestic, Daulby Street, Liverpool. Undated

At the corner of rue Daulby and rue Prescott, a cinema has delighted spectators since 1914.

The last, the Majestic, opened in 1937 and closed in 1970 with the screening of Birds by Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Keel in The Day of the Triffids.

Due to its sturdy construction, the demolition of the building proved to be a difficult task.

The site is now part of the grounds of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Odeon Cinema, London Road



Odeon Cinema London Road Liverpool, early 1950s - Ken Rogers
Odeon Cinema London Road Liverpool, early 1950s – Ken Rogers

The Odeon multi-screen cinema on London Road was once the only one of its kind in Liverpool and survived until the start of the new millennium.

Many of us will remember seeing iconic films on location over the years.

But after Odeon opened their new complex at Liverpool ONE, the old cinema was demolished to make way for a large development of new student apartments.

The project was halted when the original developer struggled, leaving behind a half-finished building.

Futuristic and Scala cinemas

Opened as Lime Street Picture House in 1912, the Futurist Cinema operated until it closed in 1982.

It was first opened as a high-end downtown cinema, but then played a vital role in keeping morale up during the war and keeping people up to date with the news.

However, unable to find a new owner, he was gradually abandoned.

The long-disused Futurist and Scala Cinemas were demolished in 2016 as part of a controversial redevelopment of Lime Street.

A Lidl store now covers part of the site.

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