Thousands of children sang this song every Saturday at the matinee
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This is a true story.
All the characters and incidents are real and any coincidence with people – living or dead- is entirely intentional.
So let us take you from your computer screen to the silver screen
The inspiration for Picture Palace began in 2004.
I was asked if I could help out a couple of artists, Ben Parry and Peter McCaughey, with their project for the Liverpool Biennial. Their work was an installation at the Futurist Cinema, that would re-open the doors of this old picture house to the public.
The installation involved the use of 12 surveillance cameras placed around the building scrutinising its secrets, excavating and dissecting the decaying hulk.
The entire foyer entrance was to be sealed with a huge sheet of toughened glass. This glass “screen” was to offer 24 hour visual access to passers by.
The morning the glass was getting installed I was there with my camera eagerly awaiting the delivery. looking back I now shake my head in amazement at the number of people who stopped to share their experiences from their cinema-going past.
Stories all of which would have made great films. Tales of . . . .of how they met their wife or husband … shared their first kiss …..saw their first musical ….the first horror movie … and so many more.
This inspired me to apply for Heritage Lottery funding for my working title “All Our Stories”.
The good news arrived – we were successful.
Forget Hollywood …I could create Merseywood.
I immediately set about finding people who would be willing to share their memories, with the intention of archiving and preserving forever Liverpool’s rich history of picture palaces- these architectural gems with so much magic inside them.
Yes, magic. Escapism. Warmth, Togetherness. Laughter and tears in equal measure.
Within these pages I have tried to create an online archive which is easy to use and pleasant to look at.
The site allows you to browse, look, listen and, if you wish, to engage by adding your memories and stories. Please do – the dream isn’t over.
I hope you get as much pleasure from what has been collected as I did putting it all together. It’s your archive I just pointed the camera and the microphone – everyone else did the rest – so important, the people who queued in the rain, who saved up for a matinee or evening rendezvous.
Yes, you the audience. This story will run and run because we have all been to the pictures.
Through this labour of love I have learnt so much about Liverpool, our cinemas and our film heritage.
Granted, our cinemas now are state-of-the-art and multi-plex complexes who keep up with this ever- changing tide of new technology.
3D or not 3D that is the question… Now.
Sadly, our picture houses – except for a few die- hards – are gone forever. We have our own special effects and soundtracks in our heads and hearts.
Walk through our city and see how they symbolised how much has life changed from what was then to what is now.
“Everything I learned I learned from the movies.” ― Audrey Hepburn.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – welcome into the Picture Palaces of Liverpool… They are old friends.”
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