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Abbey Cinerama Theatre - Liverpool U.K.
Cinema Heritage

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mike Taylor Date: 26.08.2021
Abbey Cinerama Theatre - Liverpool fitted out for Cinerama. Screen width 62 feet.

Cinerama came to Liverpool in 1964 following Manchester in 1963 and after some ten years in London. Cinerama Inc. had wanted a city centre theatre and had looked at the Empire. The owners - Moss / Stoll were not prepared to let go of this theatre as it was the top live show venue in the city. One of Liverpool's leading independent exhibitors Mr John F. Wood of Bedford Cinemas (1928) Limited approached Cinerama and offered the Abbey Cinema some three miles from the city centre. This was a "Super" cinema built in 1938 just before the second world war.

Constructed for the Regal Cinema Company (Liverpool) limited to the design of Alderman Alfred Ernest Shennan JP, FRIBA. at a cost of £50,000 pounds. It seated 1870, 1126 on the ground floor and 744 in the circle. The grand opening took place on the 4th March 1939. After four years it was sold to Bedford Cinemas and Mr John F Wood to enhance his small circuit of some super "Art Deco" cinemas across Liverpool.

The conversion to Cinerama cost £75,000 pounds plus £30,000 for the special projection equipment. The seating capacity was reduced to 1260. Cinerama was a great initial success showing all the travelogues and the Merseyside premieres for "How the West Was Won" and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm".
More in 70mm reading:

The Projected Pictures Trust. A Visit to the archive in Halifax, UK

70mm Cinema and Film in the United Kingdom

in70mm.com's Cinerama page

Projection team for Cinerama presentation. From left: Ron Checkley, Jim Wood, Ian Brown, and Des Mcgreal - who took this photo with a timer. Two of the projectionists are still alive. Ron Checkley is in Liverpool and Ian Brown is living in Guernsey on the Channel Isles.

Cinerama commenced here on the 17th March 1964. Sadly, the late arrival of Cinerama and no further productions, the three panel system ended in April 1 1965. Bedford Cinemas changed over to single lens Cinerama using 70mm film for the screening of "Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World".

In March 1971 Cinerama films at the Abbey ceased after a eleven week run of “Song of Norway”. A number of screenings of epic 70mm productions followed. The Abbey survived for another five years of mixed presentations, but finally closed on 4th August 1979 with a showing of "The Towering Inferno" in 70mm. After closure there was an auction of the buildings fixtures and fittings including the projection equipment and within three months the building was converted to a supermarket and snooker hall. Apart from a name change, the exterior does not look any different from when it first opened.

The current supermarket wanted to demolish the building and build a new one on the carpark. But I am pleased to say that English Heritage have listed the building Grade Two as it is a fine example of a 1930,s "Art Deco" cinema and one of the best of its type in the country. The supermarket have withdrawn their plans for a new one.

Photo List from PPT Collection

Cinema building converted to German supermarket LIDL.
Original interior prior to Cinerama
Foyer publicity poster - for Cinerama  
Sound follower on left, and rewind equipment.

Prologues for Cinerama where shown from the original projection room above the circle using Kalee Twelve projectors
Last night before closure. Screening of "The Towering Inferno" in 70mm.
Local shopkeeper took advantage of Cinerama for a new shop sign.

• Go to
"Rama" - In all it's screen splendour!

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Updated 21-01-24