West Kirby, CH48
Original owners: RL Kemp and EN Wilkinson.
Architect: Alfred J Thraves.
First General Manager: Alfred H Charcot.
Date Opened: Monday December 4th 1933.
First film shown: “Night of the Garter” starring Sydney Howard.
Seating capacity: 1100- Stalls: 800 Balcony: 300.
Date Closed: 30th January 1965.
Final film shown: “Séance on a Wet Afternoon” starring Clint Eastwood.
Auditorium demolished/ frontage remains.
WEST KIRBY was one home to the Queen’s Hall, which provided cinematic entertainment in the area. The building was destroyed by fire on Sunday 28th February 1932. It was thought the blaze was caused by a cigarette end being dropped during the previous night’s performance. Damage was estimated to be around £10,000. The twin domes on the roof collapsed carrying girders and balcony with them It is said that firemen salvaged a safe containing around £200. Its replacement was the Tudor, built on the same site.
The opening of the new movie house, which was on the corner of Grange Road, Bridge Road and Riversdale Road took place on Monday December 4th 1933. The opening was performed by the chairman of the local district council J.C. MacLaren JP. The owners RL Kemp and EN Wilkinson were from Nottingham. The building which only took three months to construct was designed by AJ Thraves from Nottingham.
The frontage was built in mock Tudor and there were shops on either side.
The only exterior lighting were two antique style lanterns, one at each side of the main entrance. The Tudor name was in neon in old English lettering on the half-timbered frontage. There were swing doors which led to the foyer and staircases took the patrons to the balcony waiting room and balcony.
All the timber work was done using oak. The doors leading to the auditorium had red leaded glass with the Tudor flower in gold as the central feature inside the frame work.
Seating was provided for 1100, 300 of which were in the balcony, which was built on the cantilever principle, so there were no supporting pillars to interrupt the view of the screen. To avoid clashing with the period design decorations were in quiet tones. All draperies were in blue, appliqued with old gold material. There were three octagonal lighting features each 12ft 3 inches. There were a total of ninety six lamps to provide the main theatre lighting.
The stage area after the fire, which destroyed the Queen’s remained and was made use of in the new building. The proscenium opening was 33ft wide by 20ft high and the depth of the stage up to the rear wall was 22ft 6 inches.
The projection box was equipped with two Kalee 8 machines with Western Electric sound. The picture throw was 110ft. A Hewittic rectifier supplied the DC current to the carbon arc lamps. In 1941 Western Electric Mirrorphonic sound was installed.
The first person to manage the hall was a Mr Alfred H Charcot, who had worked for Moss Empires. The opening attraction was ‘Night of the Garter’.
Prices at the time of opening ranged from 6d to 2s 4d. Matinees were screened every Wednesday and Saturday. Ironically in 1949 a fire broke out destroying several items. One admired item which succumbed to the flames was a heavy appliqued gold satin curtain.
In 1951 there was a change of ownership when Spring Theatres (Cheshire) Ltd, with John Watts taking control.
The final screening came on 30th January 1965 with the showing of “Séance on a Wet Afternoon”.
The building became a bingo club, then restaurant and finally a shopping arcade. In 2013 it was for sale and the wrecking ball came calling and an Aldi was built. Fortunately the frontage and former foyer were retained and was in use as Bernardo’s charity shop. Everything else connected with its cinema days had gone.
David A Ellis ©chestercinemas.co.uk