Liverpool, L7 8XZ
Date opened: Saturday 2nd October 1937.
Owners: Majestic Picture House Ltd.
Architects: Gray, Evans and Crossley of Liverpool.
Main Building Contractors: William Tomkinson and Sons.
Capacity: Balcony-632. Stalls-1162. Total= 1794 seats.
Opening film: “Waikiki Wedding”, starring Bing Crosby.
First manager: Ellis Williamson.
Final films shown: “The Birds” starring Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy.
Date Closed: Saturday 27th June 1970. Demolished.
The original cinema named the Majestic Picture House was opened on Wednesday 10th June 1914, it was built on land near to the east side of the inner city centre. The façade was faced in terracotta, and was topped by a dome. Inside the auditorium, seating was provided for 670 in the stalls and 200 in the circle. There were also three boxes on the right-hand side of the circle, each seating 5 persons. In 1927 alterations were carried out to increase the seating capacity by 350, some of this space was provided by the removal of the circle boxes. It maintained a good level of ticket sales despite having to compete with the new cinemas that were opening up in Liverpool, such as the Trocadero.
Western Electric sound equipment was installed in March 1930, enabling the first “talkie” ~ “King of the Kyber Rifles” starring Victor McLaglen, to be shown.
The new MAJESTIC
In 1937 the proprietors, the Majestic Picture House Ltd, were facing even stronger competition from the smart “super” cinemas like the Paramount and Forum who were challenging their business. They put ambitious plans forward to demolish the original Majestic Picture House completely and rebuild a new picture palace in it’s place on the site located at the junction of Daulby Street and Boundary Place. After planning was approved the old Majestic cinema closed on Saturday 3rd April 1937 with the final film shown “The Big Broadcast” starring Jack Benny.
The new Art Deco styled cinema was designed by Liverpool architects,Gray, Evans and Crossley. Additional ground had been purchased giving an extra 465 square yards to run along the land that the former Majestic occupied. A budget of approximately £40.000 was fixed, and the building contract was awarded to William Tomkinson and Sons who were tasked with demolishing the old cinema, then re-building the much larger Majestic in only six months.
On Saturday 2nd October 1937 at the Grand Gala performance of Paramount’s latest musical, “Waikiki Wedding” starring Bing Crosby, the building was officially opened by Sir Samuel Brighouse. A striking feature of the building was a 75′ slim fin-style tower which dominated the front of the cinema. Constructed in white glazed faience with large neon letters spelling out ~ MAJESTIC vertically down the front of the tower. There was a wrap around canopy over the three sets of double doors of the main corner entrance. Lower slung canopies were fixed along the full length of the building to give the queuing patrons adequate shelter.
The stalls area provided 1162 seats, with a further 632 seats in the circle, with a total capacity of 1794. The walls were decorated in mellow tones of gold and rose with delicate horizontal design shading. There was a well lit large proscenium with festooned silver satin screen curtains and crimson drapes hung on either side of the stage.
The ceiling had recessed oval coves housing the concealed lamps that provided subtle defused house lighting. Unusually there were windows placed up high in the auditorium that were fit with black-out curtaining, these were drawn back when the cinema was closed to the public, providing extra light for cleaning, etc.
The stage was deep enough to provide “live on stage” entertainment. These shows were the idea of the manager, Ellis Williamson, to present variety slots into the programme. There were two dressing rooms for the artists.
The projection equipment comprised of Westar projectors, Peerless Magnarc arcs, supplied by J Frank Brockliss Ltd with Western Electric being the choice for sound.
Although the Majestic was near to the centre of Liverpool, it’s policy of lower ticket price similar to what the suburban cinemas were offering, and showing up-to-date movies, kept the business brisk for this independently managed cinema through the 1930s & 40s.
During the 1950s the cinema was subjected to barring clauses, showing films after the city centre major cinemas had played them.
In October of 1954 a CinemaScope screen was installed.” The Command”, starring Guy Madison was the first feature movie shown in this new format. Despite dwindling audiences the cinema ran continuous performances throughout the 1950s & 60s.
The Majestic closed on 27th June 1970. The final film was Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” starring Rod Taylor.
Demolition followed soon after. The land had been acquired to build the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.