Reo (ABC) Cinema, Fazakerley, Liverpool.

Reo (ABC) Cinema

Longmoor Lane,

Liverpool, L10

Date opened: Saturday 1st April 1933.

Original owners:  Reo Cinema Co Ltd.

Acquired in 1936 by:  John Maxwell/Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Architect: Lionel AG Pritchard. ARIBA.

Cost:  £25000.

Seating:  Stalls~ 1120, Circle~ 388. Total capacity= 1508 .

First films shown:  “Here’s George” & “The 13th Guest” starring Ginger Rogers.

Date closed:  Saturday 14th January 1961.

Final film:  “Watch Your Stern” starring Kenneth Connor and “Clue of the Twisted Candle” featuring Bernard Lee.

Demolished:  1998.


As Liverpool’s cinema building boom was reaching its peak, the announcement was made that plans were being prepared by architect Lionel AG Pritchard for cinema number 74 in the fledgling suburb of Fazakerley, which was 5 miles from the centre of Liverpool.  The site had been secured by the newly formed Reo Cinema Co Ltd, headed by Frank White and his six fellow directors.

The 124′ long frontage ran parallel to Longmoor Lane with the stepped main entrance to the right and the bulk of the auditorium to the left. The width of the building was 90′. The architect was commissioned to produced a no frills cinema that was reflected in the budget of just £25000. No attempt was made to conceal the pitched roof from the frontage. Thousands of red rustic bricks were used with buff coloured mortar. Features of grey stone dressings were used, particularly in the prominent  domed feature that contained windows and topped with an embossed sunray emblem, together with a matching deep lintel over the main entrance steps that had the name REO imprinted. There were no canopies as copious amounts of internal waiting room space had been provided. The Reo also boasted a car park.

The main entrance lobby of the Reo, looking towards the rear of the foyer.

The paybox situated near the entrance doors was flanked by short staircases that led customers up to an impressive 63′ x 28′ lounge. The white terrazzo floor contrasted with a stunning colour scheme on the walls and ceiling of flame, cream and blue. Along the left hand side were three double doors that led to the stalls. The sales kiosk was positioned near to these doors. Opposite was a wide staircase that accessed the café and circle.

the café on the upper level of the Reo cinema.

The 90′ x 75′ auditorium had a deep barrel ceiling with a curve that gave the impression of a seamlessness attachment to the side walls helped mainly by clever artistic flair with colours of amber and blue that delicately depicted sun rays. Fibrous plaster design and cornices were not used. Curtained windows were placed high up and could be used to bring in daylight for cleaning, etc.

The auditorium of the Reo cinema, embroidered silk gauze screen curtains provided a tantalising glimpse of the screen behind.

Holophane lighting was installed to provide three circuit colour change on the proscenium and via two principal laylight panels in the auditorium ceilings. Lighting for the 50′ wide proscenium was provided by both footlights and battens.

The proscenium was bordered in a block design and painted in old gold. The house tabs (main curtains) were richly coloured appliqued velvet. A separate set of embroidered silk gauze tabs provided a glimpse of the screen behind, both sets of tabs/curtains were operated by electric motors controlled by the projectionists.

Kalee projectors provided a picture size of 24′ x 18′ with a throw distance from projection room to stage of 96′.

There were 1120 gold velvet upholstered seats for customers in three blocks with a further 388 in the curved circle.  A total capacity of 1508 seats was achieved.

Advertised in the local press as “the Bohemian Rendezvous of the North”, the Gala Opening took place on Saturday 1st April 1933 at 2.30pm. The first films shown were “Here’s George” and “The 13th Guest” starring Ginger Rogers.

The cinema was acquired by Associated British Cinemas during 1936. Although managed by this major circuit, and without nearby competition, it was not regarded as a well attended cinema. Towards the end of the 1940s the audience levels were beginning to cause concern. It tended to play films from ABC, GB and Odeon releases for 3 days runs. These programmes had already been played at the large circuits Liverpool suburban cinemas. The usual attempts were made to revitalise the attendances such as the introduction of CinemaScope on 7th April 1955. The generous width of the proscenium gave the Reo a screen of nearly 40′ wide. The first film shown in this format was MGM’s “Knights of the Round Table” starring Robert Taylor.

Click on the above frame to watch the trailer.

This did little to attract audiences as the cinema was plagued with programmes being disrupted by unruly customers, who also caused much damage to furniture and fittings. The company decided to reduce daily performances to evenings only with just three matinees a week in an attempt to make the building viable.

Finally the struggling ABC Reo closed its doors on Saturday 14th January 1961. The final double bill programme was “Watch Your Stern” starring Kenneth Connor and “Clue of the Twisted Candle” featuring Bernard Lee.

Several years of dereliction passed before Mecca moved in to create one of their bingo clubs. This business lasted until 1998 when Mecca Bingo moved out.

The building was demolished during 1998.  Housing now occupy the site. white