On the way back to the car in the early hours, we walked past this place. I filled Nick in on what we had tried in the past but everything had failed. We said we would come back soon, for one more go and it went smoothly. I’d always wanted this place, it was one of the buildings in Liverpool I had on my radar when I first started exploring.
With Nick’s knowledge he sorted the work lights and we grabbed a few photographs. It looked more fruitful in meths photos from 2007 but sadly it’s fairly gutted. The floors, seats and walls are either water damaged, collapsed in places or completely removed. 99% of the equipment is removed with only damaged bits and pieces remaining.
We did some hella tight squeezing so if you’re big there aint no chance. After weighing up the alarm box, we messed with the lights, checked up and down a million stairs, dived in a couple of the rooms and up to the roof. The first photograph below is from Liverpool’s Libraries & Archives/National Museums Liverpool, taken in 1949.
‘Opened as the Forum Cinema on 16th May 1931 with Clifford Mollison in “Almost A Honeymoon”. It was designed by William R. Glen and Alfred Ernest Shennan for Associated British Cinemas(ABC) at a cost in excess of 200,000 pounds. A massive six-storey curved Portland stone facade remains a distinctive and highly prominent feature of Lime Street – one of Liverpools major thoroughfares. The foyer was lined with Italian marble. The auditorium, in a semi-Atmospheric style, depicted Venetian scenes, contains an amazing proscenium treatment consisting of a vast curved canopy over the arch and the side boxes. Indirect light light was a feature, except for a huge ‘sunburst’ light fitting above the balcony.
A shallow stage was provided together with a Compton 3Manual/12Ranks organ on a lift in front of the stage, which was opened by organist Reginald Foort. Because of the relatively small width of the site the 1,835 capacity was achieved by having a huge circle containing 750 of the seats.
It was re-named ABC from 17th February 1971 and due to its opulence and excellent location the cinema survived intact until 1982 when it was converted to a three screen operation by installing two mini-cinemas under the balcony seating 272 and 217 seats. From 1986 it had been re-named Cannon. It closed on 29th January 1998 with a special screening of Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”, when a special admission fee of 50p was charged.
There were proposals to convert the building into a conference centre, but these stalled and the building has stood empty since closing. Proposals were put forward in late-2007 to convert it into a ‘boutique’ hotel and supper club, with plans going to Liverpool City Council in July 2008 and if permission was granted, work could start in late-2008. The building remained unused in April 2012. It is Grade II Listed building.’ – cinematreasures.org.
Shouts to Nick!