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After the Opera House burned down in 1929, the site was cleared and George E. Tonge prepared plans for a new theatre which opened on 19th December 1932. It was, and remains, a glorious exercise in Art Deco style, inside and out.
Situated on the premiere Southport thoroughfare of Lord Street, the Garrick Theatre initially operated as a live venue only. In 1957 it was sold to the Essoldo Cinemas group and the follow-spot box was converted into a projection suite and films commenced.
The theatre was well proved with front of house space and had a spacious auditorium on two levels (plus boxes) seating 1,600 (later reduced to 1,500). The original colour scheme was yellow and gold with green and black highlights, all lighting was indirect via troughs except for a chandelier in the centre of the balcony recess. There are four boxes on either side of the stage. The theatre was advertised as the most beautiful in Europe upon opening.
The stage was particularly large, and was designed to accommodate touring drama, musicals opera and ballet. The proscenium arch was 50 feet wide.
The Garrick Theatre continued to present live shows in addition to films after 1957, until 16th November 1963 it was closed with the film “Tom Jones”, and converted into a Lucky 7 bingo club (later Top Rank and Mecca).
Logic would suggest that the Garrick Theatre be returned to theatre use and the single floored Southport Theatre be turned into a modern bingo hall for Mecca – to the benefit of both parties!
In 2007, the former Garrick Theatre was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.
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