Walton

 

Astoria – Walton Road

The original design for this cinema was a billiard room and a cafe rendezvous, however the owners decided it would be a better idea to create a super-cinema instead and so the Astoria was born.

Costing £50,000, and situated on the main traffic thoroughfare making it noticeable not only for it’s size but the facade which was mostly of a white glazed pottery tiling and a long canopy, in red brick sections.

The central windows flanked with a large central arch with pillars showing the first and second floor, above this was carved the name of the cinema.

The cinema was advertised as Liverpool’s ultra-modern wonder cinema.

Built for an audience of 1,586 with 1,070 seats in the stalls and 516 in the circle.

It opened on 21st July 1930, the programme was Innocents of Paris, starring Maurice Chevaliers, British Movietone News and song cartoon

The auditorium had a distinctive style of decoration which was largely Mexican Aztec period, the proscenium colours were of bright red and gold, suspended from the ceilings was thick rope which incorporated a touch of bizarre.

The projection room was equipped with Kalee machines and Western Electric sound system.  The screen with a projection throw of 100ft was adequate for 4 x 3 ratio films and so in order to deal with CinemaScope the top of the proscenium was masked to obtain the correct ratio for wide screen performances.

“My father in-law was the projectionist at the Astoria”

 

A member of Age Concern who at 82yrs old remembers her favorite cinema stars, Dirk Bogarde and Alan Ladd

 

“We used to get an adult to take us in with them and then open the back door to let your mates in. I got thrown out a couple of times like”

Cinemas - Walton - Astoria
 

ABC – Walton Road

The Astoria Cinema was renamed the ABC Cinema in 1963, by which time all other cinemas in Walton had closed.

Continuous performances were retained until January 1970, however, due to dwindling audiences it closed on 23rd February 1974, with Bruce Lee in, Enter The Dragon and Cleopatra Jones.

 

A lady remembers the children’s Saturday matinee song – Age Concern

 
Take a look at the Flickr album;

Cinemas - Walton - ABC

Bedford Hall- Bedford Road

The Bedford Hall had the distinction of being the first purpose-built cinema in Liverpool and was opened by the proprietor John F. Wood, the founder of the Bedford cinemas.

The frontage was mainly brick, relieved by carved patterns in stone.  A deep long panel displayed the name of the cinema below the coping in large white letters.

A few steps in the middle of the building was the main entrance with glass panelled doors with large posters sites either side.

Seating capacity was for 1,200 people including a small balcony. With benches in the stalls being later replaced with seats in the early 1930’s, the seating was reduced to 1,100

The Bedford opened on 26th December 1908, with two nightly shows and a matinee on Saturdays.

In March 1928 the cinema changed hands and was acquired by the General Theatre Corporation, one of the companies amalgamated under GB.  The name was then Changed to the Bedford Cinema.

The ‘talkies’ arrived and with a first screening on 3rd March 1930  On With The Show starring, Betty Compson and Arthur Lake.

The Bedford was better attended than it’s opposition because it screened the first run in the district being a GB cinema.

From June 1948 the proprietors were CMA.  Despite the limited space for a wide screen, CinemaScope (minus stereophonic sound) was installed with a screening of The Black Shield of Falworth, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

The Bedford survived for a further 4 years until closure due to falling admissions on 23rd May 1959 showing The Geisha Boy, featuring Jerry Lewis and Hot Angel.

The building was closed and sold to Abraham and Mitchell, a removal and storage firm.

We used to go to the Bedford – some cinemas you could get in with a jam jar
if you gave in a big jam jar you could sit upstairs

 

Take a look at the Flickr album;

Cinemas - Walton - Bedford
 

Queens – Walton Road

The Queens Cinema was purpose built, erected in a well populated area, on a busy road, just over 2 miles out of the city centre.

A first license was granted on 18th February 1913, the proprietors were Walton Picturdrome Ltd

The opening was given little press but stated that it was tastefully decorated and that the projection room was equipped with Gaumont machines.

The cinema at the time was considered to be fairly large, originally it seated 1,200, however by 1930 it was reduced to 960. The reduction was due to housing new sound equipment which required the removal of several front rows to accommodate a speaker.

The Queens was very well attended in the early years, however by the 1930’s other cinema’s had arrived in the area so attendances were lowered.

CinemaScope was installed in 1955 and gained regular first run films, which at that time were not booked by the circuits. This improved the attendances for a time, until eventually the door closed in 1959.  The last programme for the Queens was These Thousand Hills starring, Don Murray.

 

“i can remember going to the Queens, the Vic and the Astoria as a kid. I also remember the song we used to sing at the Children’s Saturday matinee we’d follow the dot at the bottom of the screen”

 
Take a look at the Flickr album;

Cinemas - Walton - Queens Picture House
 

Atlas – Rice Lane

The Atlas Cinema was situated on the corner of a main road 4 miles north of the city.  The main entrance was parallel to Rice Lane, with the construction made of ordinary brick finished with terracotta horizontal and vertical lines.  A feature was the stained glass verandah beautiful illuminated by electric lights along with the cinemas name in large letters to provide and attractive frontage.

This cinema was described as the most up-to-date picture theatres in the north of Liverpool with an audience capacity of near 1,000. Decorated tastefully and with flowers for the finished look.  The auditorium with Wedgewood blue panels and blue tip-up seats, with rich red curtains and carpet all offering a cosy appearance.

Opening on Saturday 16th May 1914 by special invitation only for the Saturday afternoon performance of the great Pathe film, Honesty and opened by the Chairman, G. Gordon and several directors.

The Grand opening was on 18th May 1941 with continuous performance showing a sensational drama Detective Finn followed by a full programme of the latest dramatic, comic and scenic films, accompanied by first class music.

Take a look at the Flickr album;
Cinemas - Walton - Atlas
 

Victoria – Cherry Avenue

History to follow shortly

Cinema - Victoria - Walton

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