Southport, PR9 0QG
Owners: Mr and Mrs Richard P Wood.
Architect: George Edward Tonge.
Main Building Contractors: Jonathan Partington Ltd.
Seating Capacity: 1630.
Date opened: Monday 14th November 1938.
Opened by: the Mayor of Southport, W. Geldard.
3 Manuel Compton organ installed, opened by organist~ Herbert Dowson.
Opening film: “Follow Your Star”, starring Arthur Tracy and Belle Chrystall.
Date Closed: Saturday 2nd July 1966.
Final film shown: “”Thunderball”” starring Sean Connery.
Built in 1923 as a garage, the site was extensively restructured as a moderately sized cinema. The architect of the 1630 seat theatre, which included a café and spacious car park, was George Tonge. Building was carried out by Jonathan Partington Ltd.
The directors and only shareholders of the company were Mr and Mrs Richard P Wood.
The Grand cinema, Lord Street, Southport was opened on Monday 14th November 1938. The Mayor of Southport W. Geldard performed the opening with his wife the Mayoress. The opening attraction was ‘Follow Your Star’, starring Arthur Tracy and Belle Chrystall.
The cinema was the stadium type but had what was known as balconette, which was attached to each side wall.
A three manual Compton organ was installed and was first played by Herbert Dowson, on the opening day. During the interval he played a selection of tunes
In August 1942 George Senior was appointed organist at the cinema. The BBC often broadcast from the theatre.
Appointed general and booking manager Leonard Chant.
Another manager was Albert Earnest Toovey, who was there from 1945 until his death aged 57 in 1958. In 1945, a caretaker living at the cinema, a Mr Roland Hayworth was attacked and suffered concussion.
Richard P Wood passed away aged 70 in 1946. He had been a magistrate, town councillor, chairman of the local Liberal club and patron of the local flower show. Also he was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and for more than twenty years a Freeman of the City of London. He ran the first taxis in Southport.
In 1960 someone set fire to the building, but fortunately it was contained before doing any substantial damage.
In 1963 the organ was removed and installed at Cheetham Hill Methodist Church in Manchester and from there to Chorley Town Hall. In 1966 another Compton was installed, which had previously been used at the Regal, Douglas in the Isle of Man.
Richard Wood also had involvement in other Southport cinemas including the Trocadero, which was the first in the town to fit cinemascope with stereo sound.
The cinema closed on the 2nd July 1966 with the film “Thunderball” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. It went on to be run as a bingo club. A casino was opened in the building,operating from 2007 until May 2017. It still stands as a grade 2 listed building.
David A. Ellischestercinemas.co.uk