Friday, 17 August 2012

Kings Picture House

The site of the King's with new housing in 2009

The Old Court House Picturedome was in Liscard Road and began life as a Police Station, being built in 1845. The building was then converted into a 400 seater cinema and opened on Saturday 31st January, 1914.

Performances began each evening at 6.30 pm and 10.30 pm with matinees at 3.00 pm on Wednesday and Saturdays. On Mondays and Wednesdays the programmes were changed twice weekly. Ticket prices were 3d for the Pit Stalls, 6d in the Stalls and 9d for the Balcony.

On the outside of the theatre wide, steep steps led to a small entrance hall with its central paybox and a pair of steep staircases on either side provided access to the balcony. Inside the theatre the auditorium was square shaped with a lofty ceiling and a silver screen was raised high up on the end of the wall. The electric generator was housed in the former basement which had been the prison cells.

Between the 13th June 1914 and the autumn the Old Court closed, in part due to the drab design of the building but on 14th November of that year the newly decorated cinema reopened as the Kinema under the management of C.W Harrison.

By the early 1920s the cinema was renamed Kings and in 1931 talkies were being shown. Throughout the 1930s the Kings underwent several changes in management and refurbishments. On 2nd November 1963 the cinema closed for the final time. The building was subsequently used for a time as a bingo hall but was finally demolished in 1986 and new properties built on the site. Read more

Lowry refers to the cinema in his novel Ultramarine when Dana and Janet are walking around Egremont; "Later, however, avoiding Egremont Ferry as they ascend a street of houses built on an incline to Brighton Road, which runs parallel to the promenade, as they waver at the King's picture-house, with its peeling stucco, where they are showing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Love's Crucifixion, with Olga  Tschechowa.." (Pg. 131). We must assume that Lowry and Tess frequented the cinema which was about a mile from her home at 26 Thirlmere Street in Liscard from which they could have walked or got a tram.  Love's Crucifixion was not shown at the King's according to newspaper records from 1929 when the film was released though it may have returned at a later date.

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