Sunday, 26 August 2012

Trocadero Cinema

Trocadero, New Brighton 1934
Lowry uses the name Trocadero for the cinema in Tsjang Tsjang (Dairen) which Dana, Norman and Popplereuter visit in their drunken drift around the port in Chapter 3 of Ultramarine; "Trocadero" (Pg. 37);  "It appears that the mate wanted to go to the Trocadero, and the skipper thought it was a bore." (Pg. 39);  and signs for the cinema are seen on pages 81, 85, 104 and 109. There is no evidence to date there was a Trocadero Cinema amongst the 8 Japanese owned cinemas in the Dairen in the 1920's

The name originates from the Palais du Trocad√©ro which was built on the hill of Chaillot for the 1878 World's Fair in Paris. The palace's form was that of a large concert hall with two wings and two towers; its style was a mixture of exotic and historical references, generally called "Moorish" but with some Byzantine elements. Read more on Wikipedia

The name Trocadero became popular in England for the naming of cinemas in the 1920s - examples can be found in London, Rusholme, Leicester, Blackpool, Whitstable, Southport and Derby. Lowry would have been aware that there were 2 examples near to where he lived in the 1920's - in Camden Street, Liverpool and Victoria Road. New Brighton. Lowry probably frequented the Trocadero in New Brighton with Tess Evans during 1927.

The New Brighton Trocadero was formally opened on 1st June, 1922 by the Mayor of Wallasey, Alderman Augustine Quinn. The first film shown was 'Perjury', staring William Farnum (1876-1953). Music was provided by the Tracadero Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mr. Bescoby. The acting manager was Mr. C.H. Hankinson, who had previous experience with the Hippodrome and the Tivoli Theatre. The cost of admission were 6d, 9d and 1/3.

The Trocadero was built from reinforced concrete and was of fire-proof construction. The main frontage was executed in cream tinted terra cotta and the central portion, which rose above the entrance, was finished with a heavy pedimented gable and well proportioned windows. Either side were lock-up shops surmounted by a plain parapet. Throughout the length of the frontage in Victoria Road, was a wrought-iron and glass verandah to provide shelter in bad weather for patrons queuing outside.

The cinema was capable of accommodating some 900 people inside in what was considered at that time, to be the most luxurious surroundings. The main entrance to the cinema had marble paving which provided access through mahogany swing doors that lead into a spacious hall panelled in keeping with the entrance doors. Leading directly from the hall were the entrance doors to the auditorium and immediately to the left was an elaborate staircase, with its massive balustrade. The stairs led to the foyer on the first floor, which in turn gave access to the luxurious balcony which had been constructed on a slope so as to ensure every seat had a clear view of the screen.

The inside walls were of simple and restrained style. The main piers were run up as plasterers finished with enriched brackets from which sprung arched ribs of decorative plasterwork across the ceiling. The intervening wall spaces between the plasterers were richly panelled in modelled plaster work leading up to an effective treatment over the circular windows, and surmounted at the eaves by a well-proportioned classic cornice. The infilling to the ceiling was also effectively broken up by a series of panels and enriched ventilating gratings. The proscenium front and arch was boldly treated forming a fitting frame to the silver screen and its drapers. The tip-up seats were upholstered in blue corduroy velveteen and finished with mahogany backs and arms. Heating the cinema was provided by a low-pressure hot water system, whilst the air conditioning comprised a blower fan to provide fresh, warm air at a low level to eliminate floor draughts. Read more on History of Wallasey

By coincidence, the Trocadero, New Brighton showed 2 films in October 1927 which Lowry mentions in his work - Rex Ingram's Mare Nostrum and The Amateur Gentleman starring Richard Barthelmess. It is possible that Lowry saw these 2 films in New Brighton after he returned from his Far East voyage and prior to him going to study with E.E. Kellett in Blackheath.

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