Curzon Cinema, Old Swan, Liverpool.

Curzon Cinema

601 Prescot Road,

 Liverpool, L13 5XA

 

Date opened: 10th October 1936.

Date Closed:  20th August 1960.

Owners:  Merseyside Cinemas, controlled by Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd.

Architects:  Ernest Shennan, FRIBA.

Main Building Contractors: John Lucas & Son Ltd, of Prescot, Liverpool.

Capacity: 1750 seats.

Opening film:  “The Unguarded Hour”, starring  Loretta Young and Franchot Tone.

First manager:  Samuel. A. Eaton.

Compton Organ installed and played on the opening day by Lewis Oddy.

Final film shown:  “A Women Like Satan” starring  Brigitte Bardot.

Demolished: March 2015.

 

Located in the east Liverpool district of Old Swan, this new cinema venture was situated on a prominent corner site on Prescot Road. It was the most recent addition to the portfolio of Bedford Cinemas. The managing director, John F Wood, was one of Liverpool’s early purpose built cinema pioneers. Planning was placed into the hands of Ernest Shennan, a man who was well known for his expertise in cinema design in the city. The contractors for the build were John Lucas and Son Ltd of Prescot.

CURZON CINEMA, Prescot Road.

The front of the cinema was built in sand faced brick above a base of cream Brizolite granite. Its adventurous streamline design was completed with  curved towers constructed with Lenscrete masonry that made use of daylight and artificial light from within with dazzling luminance effect.  The contours of the futuristic design was emphasized even more with a more than generous application of neon.

The dazzling etched-embossed glass walls with white marble floors of the main entrance,

The main entrance was extensively glazed in black glass that was etched-embossed with Shakespearean characters, contrasting with a white marble floor.  Directly opposite the entrance doors were the cash desk and sweet kiosk.

The opulent waiting foyers of the Curzon cinema.

The stadium auditorium seated 1750 patrons. The rear of the hall was stepped to the cross over gangway, from here the fully carpeted floor sloped towards the stage. Either side of the stage were two large green translucent glass panels that had embossed etching on. Lit from within these were a eye catching feature during the interval and as the houselights were lowered.

The auditorium of the Curzon.

The walls were spray textured coated in buff Marble-coat and speckled in metallic amber and gold. Lighting was concealed in repeated curved coves with a central ceiling feature that too had concealed lighting around it’s perimeter.

Raised on it’s lift and centre stage, played by Lewis Oddy at the Gala Opening.

A John Compton organ, complete with a electrone unit, had been installed on a lift in the orchestra pit. The organ chamber was placed behind the screen.

Kalee projectors were the choice in the projection room together with Western Electric wide range sound system and were equipped with spotlights.

The first feature film shown ~ ” The Unguarded Hour”.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor R J Hall was invited to perform the official opening before an audience of invited guests on 10th October 1936 at 2.30pm. The first public performances began the same day at 6.15pm & 8.40pm.  The Grand Opening and first programmes included an interlude of organ music played by Lewis Oddy at the Compton organ. The first feature film shown was “The Unguarded Hour” starring Loretta Young and Franchot Tone.

Souvenir programme of the Gala Opening of the CURZON

Admission prices at the Curzon were 6d, 9d, 1/-, and 1/3 in the evenings and 4d, 6d, and 9d in the afternoons.

The sweeping curved inner foyers of the Curzon with the paybox and kiosk central to the entrance doors pictured on the right. Designed to cope with large volumes of customers.

In 1938 competition came along on the other side of Prescot Road, when ABC rebuilt the Regent cinema and  created a super cinema.  This set challenges for the Curzon’s manager,Samuel A Eaton, who had many years of management in Liverpool’s cinemas.  He constantly sought customer’s opinions into how their cinema visits could be improved upon.  Business remained buoyant at the Curzon heading into the heyday decade (1940) of British cinemas. However, many films available were features that had been run before on the ABC circuit or others that had been played on the city center screens.

Many things were tried in the 1950s to boost the declining admissions. The novelty 3D was just a passing fancy that the management tried. With Twentieth Century Fox in dispute with Rank, the management of the Curzon seized on the opportunity to install CinemaScope, plus magnetic stereophonic sound. Fox films were shown first run from 20th December 1954, the first feature shown was “How To Marry A Millionaire” starring Marilyn Monroe.  This arrangement was short lived as Rank patched up their differences with Fox and the independently operated Curzon had to resort to playing their product after suburban Rank cinemas had finished with them. With dwindling attendances a period of restricted performances took place and trial International Wrestling taking the place of the normal film programme.

It was decided to call it a day when the final film, “A Woman Like Satan” starring Brigette Bardot was shown on 20th August 1960. The building was re-constructed so that it could accommodate commercial businesses, primarily as a supermarket. This arrangement lasted for nearly 55 years.

The building was demolished in March 2015.

 

Peter Daviescopyright whitechestercinemas.co.uk

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