Mayfair Cinema, Aigburth, Liverpool.

Mayfair Cinema

184-198 Aigburth Road,

Liverpool, L17 9PE

 

Original owners:  Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd.

Architect: Arthur Ernest ShennanFRIBA (1887 – 1959).

Building contractors:  Tysons Ltd.

Seating Capacity:  1750.

Date opened:  Saturday 1st May 1937.

Opened by:  The Mayor, William Denton.

First film shown:  “Educating Evans”, starring Max Miller and Nancy O’Neil.

John Compton 3Manual/6Rank organ installed.

Date closed as a cinema:  Saturday 23rd June 1973.

Final film shown:  “The Last Picture Show” starring Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms and Cybill Shepherd.

Demolished:  1984.

 

 

 

Mayfair Cinema, Aigburth, Liverpool.

The Mayfair Cinema was located in the Aigburth district to the south of Liverpool city centre. It opened on May 1st 1937 with Max Miller in “Educating Evans”, and was one of Liverpool’s finest suburban cinemas.  The 1,750 seat cinema, owned by Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd., was opened by the mayor, William Denton.

The Mayfair’s first feature film.

John Frederick Wood ran several cinemas around the Liverpool area, which included the Mayfair Aigburth Road, the Plaza Birkenhead and the Abbey Wavertree. His company went under the name Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd.

The entrance foyer.

The theatre was designed by A. Ernest Shennan and built by Tysons Ltd., with a spacious entrance hall that had the paybox in the middle. There were two staircases, which led to the balcony and large lounge, furnished with several couches.

The auditorium had lighting in a coved ceiling, which stepped down to the screen. A Compton 3Manual/6Rank organ regularly entertained patrons in the early years and was still played occasionally up to the time the cinema closed. The projection room had Kalee 11 projectors and Western Electric sound. At the time of closing the original projection heads were still in use. The cinema was equipped with four track magnetic, the last stereo film being “Woodstock”.

 

In 1969, the gold coloured festoon curtain was removed to make way for an unmasked screen. The new screen, minus tabs, appeared to be suspended in mid-air and was called a floating screen. This made its debut on August 3 1969. Later that year I joined as a second projectionist, my chief was Brian Cubbon. We ran single manned box, I only worked with Brian twice a week.

The last film was “The Last Picture Show”, a fitting title, plus Steve McQueen in “Bullet”. The final reel was shown on June 23rd 1973. The Mayfair Cinema then became a Mecca Bingo Club and was later demolished in 1984 and a Kwik Save Supermarket was built on the site.

David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk
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Mayfair – half a century gone

It is hard to believe in June it will be fifty years since the popular suburban cinema the Mayfair Aigburth Road closed its doors. The cinema opened for  business on 1st May 1937 with the screening of ‘Educating Evans’, starring Max Miller.

The hall was run by the Wood family. One of them was John Frederick Wood. The company name was Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd.  They ran several halls, including The Plaza, Birkenhead and The Abbey Wavertree.

Over the years the cinema kept up with the latest technology. This didn’t involve changing the projection equipment. Kalee number eleven projectors were in use at the opening and remained until closure. Kalee Regal lamp houses were first used followed by Peerless and finally Cinemeccanica xenon arcs. Projectomatic became a feature. Also, 3D was screened in the 1950s and four track magnetic was added to the Western Electric sound system when scope came along.

In 1969 the tabs and masking were removed and a floating screen was installed. The screen looked like it was floating. This, I feel is one of the things they shouldn’t have had, as it wasn’t an improvement.

David A Ellis

I joined the staff as a second projectionist in 1969.  The first film I screened was ‘Carry on Camping’. There was only the two of us as projectionists.

Brian Cubbon was the chief. He would take Thursday and Friday off and I would take Monday and Tuesday off. We worked together on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Later, we took it in turns to have a Sunday off.

There were only evening shows during the week at the cinema, apart from holiday periods. The main feature was shown twice and the second feature once In the last year or so both features were only shown once. There was a Saturday afternoon show.

The cinema housed a Compton organ that occasionally got the cobwebs blown off when a Mr Ian Hamilton, the circuit manager took to the keys. A schoolteacher would play it occasionally, until the generator stopped working while he was playing.

The first manager was a Mr Tom Barnes. He remained with the company until his retirement in the early 1970s. He was replaced by Sam Bennett, who was there at the time of closure.

In later years~ The Mayfair, Aigburth, Liverpool.

To try and add to business there were late night screenings at the weekend for a short period. The end finally came on the 23 June 1973 with the screening of ‘The Last Picture Show’ with Bullitt as the second feature. There wasn’t many in to say farewell to what was a popular local cinema. Before closure there were a number of residents that objected to the closure.

Other staff included, Beryl Sayle, paybox, Margaret Long, usherette, Sylvia Kelly, usherette, Gloria Holdroyd, sweet kiosk.

The building became a Mecca bingo club. It was demolished around 1983. Retail now occupies the site.