Forum – Lime Street
Previously, the site of Forum was home to a number of small shops and the American bar, which was a most popular sing-song public house. In 1930, ABC purchased the entire site and demolished the lot. At a cost of £200,000 the Forum was erected and was soon known as the cities finest super-cinema, with an audience capacity of 2,000, partly due to the fact 750 seats where in the balcony. The decoration were in keeping with the glamour with the main colours, an amber tone. The Compton organ was mounted on an elevator in the organ-well rising in the centre to the level of the 37′ stage. The projection equipment consisted of Ross machines and the Western Electric sound system, with a throw to the screen of 146′.
The opening was on 16th May 1931, by the end of April construction crews worked day and night in order to meet the opening date on time. The opening was grand with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Alderman Edwin Thompson attending. The audience’s appreciation for the striking designs inside and out was apparent. The first performance was a highly acclaimed british bedroom farce, Almost A Honeymoon featuring Clifford Mollison and Dodo Watts.
In 1953 3D projectors were installed, with the first performance on 18th October, House of Wax starring Vincent Price, special 3D glasses were handed out to the patrons on admission. The projectionist for this screening was Derek Minshull. With 3D films being a short lived novelty, CinemaScope was just around the corner as the next new attraction. In 1958 and 1960 new equipment was installed for the Todd AO ready for the opening of South Pacific and Oklahoma.
The Forum changed it’s name to the ABC in 1964 and continued with single screen until 15th May 1962 when it closed with Kentucky Fried Movie and The Other Cinderella.
With work beginning immediately and costing £350,000 for the conversion to a triple-screen cinema ABC 1,2 and 3 with seating for 683, 272 and 217 respectively. The opening was on 26th August 1982.
In 1987 the cinema was taken over by Canon and so changed it’s name to Canon cinemas 1,2 and 3. Although Richard Branson’s group Virgin took over in 1995 , the cinema was still badly attended losing it’s customers to the larger out of town multi-screens. A short term experiment showing art house films wasn’t enough to keep it going and was forced to close it’s doors on 28th January 1998.
Derek Minshull – Projectionist from 1954 – 1998 and of this cinema until it closed
Reel Heroes – Meet the Projectionists From Other City Cinemas
Take a look at the Flickr album;
ABC – Lime Street The Forum changed it’s name to the ABC in 1964 and continued with single screen until 15th May 1982 until it closed with Kentucky Fried Movie and The Other Cinderella. A £350,000 conversion began immediately to create a triple screen cinema, ABC 1,2, and 3. Derek Minshull the cinema operator (projectionist) says for him this was the worst thing they could have done to the cinema. “It just wasn’t the same anymore, the audiences were smaller and so were the screens, it took away the glamour and the feeling of being in the old cinema”. He loved however having a laugh and a joke it was the projectionists way of injecting fun into the job as they never saw the light of day, especially in winter. So for example when the Exorcist was running, they would turn up the sound on the really scary bits, and on another occasion hung dummy mannequins out of the windows, only one day the head fell off and splattered onto the pavement outside. Who ever would have thought the projectionist having fun!
I loved the cinema and would go every night of the week. I remember seeing Jaws and the Exorcist here. For the Exorcist, they gave leaflets out to help you if you were scared after watching the film, I was terrified”
Take a look at the Flickr album;
Projectionist Alan Watson began his career back in 1948.
This wonderful audio interview he gave to his daughter Gail in August 2014 for our Reel Heroes archive.