Maghull

Astra Entertainment Centre / Albany – Northway

The Albany was built in a residential area 7 miles north of the city centre and was the first cinema in the area. It cost £100,000 to build and designed by Alexander Webber also the designer the Phoenix in Wallasey, difference being the Astra could seat 500 more patrons with and audience size of 1,586, stalls 1,070 and circle 516.

This cinema was the first opened in 16 years and because wide screen cinema had since been introduced it did not include a proscenium. The picture size could be increased if needed from normal 34ft to CinemaScope width of 47ft. There was a stage 8′ deep however it was not for ‘live’ entertainment more for the modern look of cinema.  Curtains adorned the stage and were in keeping with the grand cinema colour scheme of red and gold, colours that blended well with the general decoration.

It opened on 21st July 1930 with Innocents of Paris, starring Maurice Chevalier, British Movietone News, and song cartoon. Evening performances were continuous from 6.30pm with a daily matinee at 2.30pm with admission of 1/3, 1/10,  and 2/4.  The first Saturday children’s matinee was 5th October 1955 with admission 7d, 9d, and 1/-.

A Sunday license was granted on 15th April 1956, when the first programme of old films for Sunday only was shown once at 8pm.  Surviving as a single screen for 20 years until CinemaScope was introduced and was one of the largest on Merseyside showing block busters like Sound of Music and South Pacific in the 1960’s and in the 1970’s Enter The Dragon and King Boxer, starring Bruce Lee.  What is also worth noting is that this cinema had the distinction of a performance by the ‘Beatles”

The cinema closed and reopened again in 1975 as the Astra with a conversion, housing two auditoria each with 193 seats and a Bingo Hall occupying the rear half of the building.  After a spell bingo admissions declined the owners thought their future was in cinemas and converted the hall into cinemas 3 and 4 with a grand opening of Cines 3 and 4 took place on 20th December 1981 with Assault On Precinct 13 and Halloween in number 3 and in Number 4 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest starring Jack Nicholson.

The Astra came under the ownership of the Apollo Leisure group in June 1986, but little more then 2 years later, the company stated that it was no longer viable despite an increase in takings and  a 700 strong petition to keep it open. It was operated by that company for nearly 9 years until closure on 27th April 1995 when it then lay unused.

 
Take a look at the Flickr album;

cinemas - Maghull - Albany * Astra Entertainment Center

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6 thoughts on “Maghull”

  1. As I recall, the Albany Cinema in Maghull was opened during the 1950’s. My grandfather took me on the opening night and I believe the first film shown was “There’s no business like show business”
    On Saturday afternoons, there was a children’s matinee performance, often after a cowboy film, groups of boys would cross over Northway, which was only three lanes wide and enter the park area to gallop around on imaginary horses eminating our cowboy heros from the earlier film.
    When an “A” rated film was being screened, it was not unusual in those days for those children who were under 16 to ask complete strangers to “take me in”, if their own parents or older siblings were not available to accompany them.

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    1. I was talking to some friends of mine and their children earlier about the very same thing – if children back in the day were under age how they would ask a grown up even a stranger to take them in with them and it being the norm. “If you knew them they would buy you an ice cream and if you didn’t you would go off and sit somewhere else or bunk your mates in through the side door”

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  2. The first film I ever saw at the cinema was at The Astra! I was 4 years old and went to see Santa Clause: The Movie with Dudley Moore. My Mum took me on the bus from Ormskirk and I remember being amazed at the size of the room in the cinema itself. That was back in the days when you still had an inter mission in the middle of the film. What a treat to share a cornetto for the second half! These are the type of memories my kids will never have…

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  3. I used to go to Maricourt and remember being taken with my class to see “Schindlers list” here as part of my History GCSE’s. I think it was renamed “The Apollo” at the time. The film was only released in 1993. So I don’t think it was 1988 when it was demolished. It must have been much later.

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  4. Many thanks for your comment 1988 Closure you are correct. :))))
    I just checked in the book Picture Palaces of Liverpool by Harold Ackroyd as this is where I have researched the histories and there is was!!! So thank you I shall change it immediately.

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