Liverpool, L1 1DA
Date opened: Monday February the 19th 1934
Date Closed: Spring 1973
Seating Capacity: 600
The Tatler, Church Street Liverpool was the first news and cartoon cinema in the city. It opened on Monday February the 19th 1934 and was run by Edwin Haigh and his son John.
In 1946 a second news theatre, the Liverpool News Theatre opened in Clayton Square, run by Jacey cinemas. The Tatler had seating for 600, 200 of them in the balcony. The cinema was designed from an existing construction fronting Church Street and Williamson Street. It is said that great ingenuity had to be exercised in order to comply with all the regulations of the public authorities. The contractors were John Rimmer and son, who were congratulated for their work.
The entrance in Church Street was lined with marble and brilliantly lit by means of neon display signs and tubular lights in tiers. The result making a striking design in metal and marble. The entrance foyer was floored with rubber. The wall decorations were finished with brightly coloured panelling dusted with gold. Illumination in the hall was by means of laylights fixed in the ceiling at various levels. Opening time was 11.30am and the programme was continuous from noon until 10.30. At the time of opening it is stated that admission prices were 7d and a shilling. A photograph showing a new canopy states it was 6d and a shilling. Each show lasted ninety minutes and the programme was changed twice a week.
The first manager was a Mr Hawkins, who had previously managed the Woolton Picture House. The cinema provided tea coffee and biscuits throughout the day. There was also a telephone kiosk installed on the mezzanine floor. A report in the Liverpool Echo dated October 13th 1939 says: ‘Following the approval of the very substantial basement of the Tatler cinema, Liverpool as an air raid shelter, the manager, Mr K Hann has obtained the necessary certificate for training personnel in ARP.’ The Classic Chester was also an air raid shelter. Can anyone name other cinemas that had this role? Also in April 1939 George Formby and his wife Beryl appeared at the cinema, opening the committee room of the newly formed Merseyside branch of the Classic Cinema Club. Formby said he was a big film fan and Mickey Rooney his favourite star.
The projection room housed two Ross projectors with Kalee Vulcan arcs. The Sound system was the RCA photophone type. After the closure of the Classic Chester in 1970, the Simplex projectors from there were installed in the Tatler. The chief operator was a Mr Teesdale. On the 27th August 1941 the cinema closed due to an explosion, which caused damage to the stage end. After a refit costing £25,000 it re- opened. The new look included a new colour scheme of cream and maroon with speckles of gold. On each side of the stage there were flowers to add to the decorative effect.
On the 25th September 1968 the cinema closed and re-opened as the Classic cinema on the 4th October 1968, with a new bigger screen. The first feature was War and Peace. This was short lived, the cinema closing again in 1969 with Dr Dolittle.
Later in 1969 it opened as the Tatler cinema club, screening uncensored films. This lasted three years. Uncensored films were also shown at the Curzon Cinema Club, which had been the Essoldo on London Road. This cinema became the Tatler after the Church Street cinema stopped showing uncensored films. The former Essoldo went on to become the Eros cinema, also screening uncensored movies and presenting striptease before closing.
The Tatler was given a new lease of life when it re-opened as the Classic Cartoon Cinema, on the 23rd December 1972. Unfortunately, this only lasted three months and the building was never used as a cinema again, becoming a fashion store.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk pictures-Roger Shone’s collection