Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Scala, Birkenhead

The Scala Theatre was originally called the Theatre Royal opening at 51/53 Argyle Street, Birkenhead on 31st October 1864. The theatre was altered after a fire in 1892, extensively modernised in 1905 and introduced cinema into the programmes in 1910.

Under pressure from cinema, the Theatre Royal closed in January 1921. The new proprietors Sol and Alfred Levy spent a fortune in converting the theatre to a modern picture house. James S. Bramwell was in charge of the reconstruction, Arnold Auerbach, a Liverpool artist, provided the designs and J.A. Milestone was in charge of building work.

The cinema re-opened on 25th April 1921 as the Scala Picture House. The cinema had daily matinees at 3.00pm and continuous performances from 6.30 to 10.30pm. In 1927, the licensee and manager was Cyril Levy, circle cost 1 shilling and 6 pence, the stalls 1 shilling and the upper circle 5 pence. The Scala was the first cinema in Bikenhead to show “talkies” in August 1929. In February 1930 the Scala was taken over by Associated British Cinemas and soon after closed for redecoration. The Scala finally closed on 6th February 1937 and was demolished to be replaced with a new cinema called the Savoy.

Lowry refers to the cinema in his novel Ultramarine; "...I've heard there's a good show on at the Scala-" (Pg. 27).

Read more on Malcolm Lowry @ The 19th Hole

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