Date opened as the Palais de Luxe: 23rd November 1909.
Owners: Weisker Brothers.
Date re-opened after major fire damage: 6th November 1952.
Architects for the 1952 alterations: William L. Lowe & Partners.
Final film shown: “Scarlet Street” starring Edward G Robinson.
Date Closed: 24th October 1959.
The Palais de Luxe cinema was built on a site along Lime Street in central Liverpool that had the longest and most varied history of entertainment in the city dating back to 1847. With such names attached to the original buildings as the Teutonic Hall; Allsopp’s New Crystal Palace Waxworks; Theatre Variete; St. James Hall & Operetta House; the Tivoli Palace of Varieties; the New Tivoli of Varieties. Through the years it presented stage plays, operas, ballets and was the home of the Liverpool Minstrels.
The building was re-constructed as a cinema and was to become the Palais de Luxe cinema from 23rd November 1909. The building was now under the management of the Weisker Brothers who promoted as the finest cinematograph entertainment in the UK. Programmes were promised to include comedy, drama, sport, science & art, together with the accompaniment of the Palais de Luxe high class orchestra.
The cinema operated on a continuous performance basis. Ticket prices were kept low, stalls tickets were set at 2d~4d~6d, balcony seats cost 6d or 1/-.
A new company was formed in June 1913. The Liverpool Palais de Luxe Company was the first cinema in the city to advertise film with sound. This was achieved by a sound on disc system known as the Edison Kinetophone. The billboards boasted “You see the man, you hear his voice – Greatly accompanied by their Majesties the King and Queen”.
Despite this technical advancement, the Palais de Luxe was one of the last Liverpool cinemas to have sound installed. Advertising the cinema as “The House of Golden Silence because our pictures are still SILENT”. The final silent feature shown at the Palais de Luxe was “The Man Who Changed His Name”, shown on 2nd August 1930.
As the 1930s approached the cinema had fierce competition thrust upon it. Two super~cinemas, the Paramount on London Road, and the Forum, which was next door but one to the Palais de Luxe on Lime Street proved to be formidable opponents in business.
However, the cinema enjoyed good attendances from a loyal customer base during the heyday of 1930s & 40s movie going.
Bomb damage to three cinemas on Lime Street during WW2. The bomb strike on the Palais de Luxe on 3rd May 1941 caused the building to close for repairs, re-opening quickly with Judy Garland the MGM film, “Little Nelly Kelly” on 9th June 1941.
In 1951 the cinema was seriously damaged when a fire destroyed the majority of the interior. This prompted a major overhaul of the structure, both internally and externally.
The imposing tower was removed, with the facade clad in a block of grey faience tiles that covered the auditorium wall that ran along this important section of Lime Street, placed on high of this section was the Palais de Luxe neon sign. Towards the right of the frontage was another block of black faience tiles which formed the main entrance, featuring an unusual large stainless steel sculpture of a studio cameraman which was designed by W L Stephenson, principal of the Liverpool College of Art. Titled ‘Technical Achievement’. The overhaul appearance of the facade was both sleek and modern and certainly a departure from what had been before.
The interior was also given a complete new look and the cinema opened it’s doors on 6th November 1952 with Ann Blyth and Mario Lanza in “The Great Caruso”.
Click on the above frame to watch a short clip of “The Great Caruso”
The difficult years of the declining cinema audiences in the 1950s, together with a major problem with the dimensions of the building itself started the cinema on a downward spiral.
Most of Liverpool picture houses were busy installing CinemaScope equipment which gave a new dimension to how the customers viewed the top movies. The auditorium and consequently the proscenium of the Palais de Luxe was far too narrow to get the full effect of CinemaScope. This meant that not only were they denied first run product, but also the high grossing CinemaSope features were unable to be shown.
The business managed to carry on until closing on 24th October 1959, showing the final films ~ “Scarlet Street” starring Edward G Robinson & “Johnny Stool Pigeon” featuring Dan Duryea.
The building was demolished. The Cameraman sculpture was saved and re-sited at Riversdale Technical College at Aigburth. Unfortunately it has since been removed.