Liverpool, L6 9BY
Date opened as a cinema: 30th March 1925
Date Closed: 25th March 1939
Architect: Frank Matcham.
First film shown after conversion to a cinema: “The Thief of Baghdad” starring Douglas Fairbanks
Final film shown: “Stablemates” starring Wallace Beery.
Seating Capacity: 3400
Present Day- In use as a live venue.
A Grade II* Listed building by English Heritage.
Located in the Everton district, this enormous cinema came about when the vast Olympia Theatre was converted to cinema use. Originally the theatre had held 3750 seats. Following the re-design of the auditorium, which involved re-siting the seats and installing a permanent large screen which was 30′ from the front row of the stalls, the capacity was reduced to 3400 seats spread across the stalls, dress circle, upper circle and gallery levels. The ornate plaster-work and balconies of the original theatre had been retained. It re-opened as a silent screen on 30th March 1925. However, less than four years later the Olympia became the first cinema in the Liverpool area and only the fourth outside London to show a sound feature. “The Singing Fool” opened on 11th January 1929 and ran for for a seven week booking.
The ABC circuit gained control of this site during 1930 which it ran as a cinema until 25th March 1939. Competition from another large cinema and several smaller screens nearby forced the closure. On the outbreak of war the building was taken over by the government and used by the Royal Navy as a storage depot.
Associated British Cinemas(ABC) acquired the Olympia Theatre in 1930 and continued the film fare until it was closed on 25th March 1939 with Wallace Beery in “Stablemates” and Mickey Rooney in “”Girl School”. The nearby Royal Hippodrome Theatre had been converted into a cinema by Gaumont British in 1931, and the area just couldn’t support two huge cinemas which had a total seating capacity of 7,400 between them, plus there were other smaller cinemas in the area.
When war was declared in September 1939, the building was taken over by the government and used as a storage depot for the Royal Navy.
Mecca Dancing purchased the building in 1948, re-naming it The Locarno Ballroom. The company then changed it’s use to a bingo club in 1964.
It is designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.