The cinema was built in an expanding residential area of private housing, so the Regal had every prospect of success, especially since the nearest cinema was the Coliseum.
The official opening was on 12th June 1939 by J. Eaton, chairman of Litherland Urban District Council. The Regal was extremely attractive and very comfortable as was the style of 1930’s cinema. The foyer flooring was of polished cream and green terrazzo with the walls in pastel shades of similar colours. The corridors illuminated show cases to advertise forthcoming attractions.
The auditorium was nearly 100′ long and 70′ wide, especially designed to give the audience a perfect view of the screen. CinemaScope was installed showing, A Star Is Born starring Judy Garland on 22nd August 1955. Despite the popularity and the attractiveness of the cinema it only survived 23 years due to a declining audience.
The last film performance was on 28th July 1962, A cry From The Street starring Max Bygraves and In For Trouble starring Peggy Mount. After closure it’s first venture was for ten pin bowling, this soon ended and was opened again this time as Allinson’s Theatre Club and Whispers Discotheque.
The Coliseum was built around the same time as the Regent in Crosby and shared a nearly identical design. The primary difference between the two was their size; the Coliseum was significantly larger, with a grander auditorium that could hold about 1,400 patrons. The facade of the Coliseum was red-brick with a metal and stained glass verandah across the front where the name of the cinema was displayed. Under the name was the main entrance which was flanked by large columns, and payboxes.
The Coliseum opened on the 28th of February 1921 with free invitations for local residents. The event was packed and from the stage the chairman of the Coliseum Litherland Ltd welcomed the crowed to the Coliseum at 2:30pm. The coliseum strove to be a first class entertainment venue and to echibit only the finest pictures available, states the chairman. The films screened that first day, The Toilers and a five-reel comedy by that featured May Allison, were accompanied by an orchestra directed by HG Curtis. After this matinee kick off the Coliseum opened to the public at 7:30pm and going forward ran continuous screenings nightly.
During the 1920’s the Coliseum housed a cafe. It served refreshments at a moderate price but only stayed in operation until 1929. Two years later the theatre closed for remodeling and when it reopened on the 25th of May it was the last cinema in the district to still show silent films. The next month a Western Electric sound system was installed and the first talkie they screened was Call of the Flesh starring Ramon Navarro, on 25 June 1931.
The Coliseum ran into trouble with booking priority as newer and larger super-cinemas began to open in Liverpool. During the 1930’s attendance was slower and the ownership changed hands to Southan Morris Associated Cinemas out of London in 1938. As one of the cinemas not affect by the air raids of 1941 the Coliseum began to get better bookings and by 1945 attendance had significantly improved. However, attendance did fall off again and the Coliseum was purchased by the Essoldo circuit, who in total owned 23 cinemas in Merseyside. Of those cinemas the Coliseum was the first to be take the name of its new proprietors.
At a cost of £20,000, Mark Sheckman and AJ Slade renovated the inside and outside of the building, including new carpet, new seats, a CinemaScope system that sported a 40′ wide picture, and stereophonic sound system consisting of 30 speakers.
With this new hardware the Essoldo gained first run rights for CinemaScope films beginning on the 8th of November 1954 with The Robe. The success was short lived though with many newer cinemas popping up over the next few years.
By the beginning of the 1960’s attendance at the Essoldo declined and bingo nights were introduced on Sundays and Thursdays. The last screening at the Essoldo was a double feature, Secret of the Incas starring Charlton Heston and The Guns of Fort Petticoat starring Audie Murphy, on 14 September 1963.
After this the Essoldo was sold to Top Flight Leisure Ltd who converted the building into a bingo hall and so it remained, under its old name the Coliseum, until September of 1983. After fire damage to the auditorium and roof the building remained empty and was eventually torn down in 1990.
Today houses stand on the site of the former Coliseum/Essoldo Picture House.
Take a look at the Flickr album;