Liverpool, L4 4AF
Date opened: July 21st 1930.
Date Closed: 23rd February 1974.
Architect: Gray and Evans of North John Street, Liverpool.
First film shown: “Innocents Of Paris” starring Maurice Chevalier.
First General Manager: Austin Durrans.
Seating Capacity: 1586
The Astoria, Walton, Liverpool designed by Gray and Evans was originally only going to be a ballroom and Billiard Hall. Construction was well underway when the proprietors Astoria Entertainments (Liverpool) Ltd realised that cinema was big business and so called a halt to building work. Plans were revised and the cinema opened on Monday 21st July 1930. It was stated that it was the ultra modern ‘Talkie’ theatre of Liverpool. It cost fifty thousand pounds, a large sum back then.
There was a large entrance hall with a central pay-box fitted with what was the popular automaticket machine. The auditorium was eighty five feet long and sixty three feet wide. Seating capacity stood at 1,586. The stalls housed 1,070 seats and the semi circular balcony 516 seats. Proscenium width was twenty foot wide by twenty five feet high. An outstanding feature was the curtain with an artistic design.
There was a spacious lounge furnished with hide covered settees for the comfort of patrons.
Behind the screen stood six dressing rooms and a ventilating plant chamber. The stage area measured thirty one feet wide by eleven feet deep. The projection area was large, extending almost the full width of the building.
Two Kalee projectors with Western Electric sound ran the films with a throw of around one hundred feet. The opening attraction was “Innocents of Paris” starring Maurice Chevalier. Five years after opening it was run by Associated British Cinemas. This was from September 1935. In December 1963 it became just ABC. The end came on the Saturday 23rd February 1974 with Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon” plus “Cleopatra Jones”. The building was empty for ten years, in which time it was vandalised.
On Friday 9th November 1984 it became a social club called the Astoria Social Club aimed at the 25-50 year age group, run by Gerry Grimes, using the stalls area only. Six years later bingo became the game known as the Astoria Bingo Club. This closed in 2001 when a new hall was built. The Astoria went the way of many others and fell victim to the wrecking ball.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk