29 Bedford Street,
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In the Birkdale district of Southport, the Bedford Cinema, opened 4th May 1929 with “Wild Cat Hetty” starring Mable Poulton. It was built for the Birkdale Picture Palace Company, and was the last cinema to be opened in the Southport area for the showing of silent films.
The construction of the auditorium lengthwise to the road provided a 60ft frontage spanned by a glass verandah about 8ft deep. The central main entrance was flanked by a sweet shop on the left and by a chemist to the right. There was a separate entrance for the front stalls at the extreme right.
In the auditorium the rear six rows of seats were elevated on a stepped flooring, beyond which about twelve rows, designated as centre stalls, descended on a raked floor to several rows of front stalls. The decoration featured English country scenery with fields and large trees, above which the ceiling was painted to represent the sky.
Silent films ended a year and a half later, on Saturday 1st November 1930, with “Why Worry?” starring Harold Lloyd, and John Gilbert in “Mask of the Devil”. Western Electric sound was installed, and the opening ‘talkie’ was “King of the Khyber Rifles”, starring Victor MacLaglen and Myrna Loy.
A CinemaScope screen was installed in July 1956 but, with ever decreasing audiences, the Bedford Cinema closed on 3rd January 1959. The final programme was the all-star story of the Titanic disaster, “A Night to Remember”, supported by “Gaucho Country”.
The building was used for many years as a garage, but was empty for several years leading up to the 1990’s. However, by the time I visited, in September 2002, it had returned to garage use, and it is still (December 2015) home to Auto Services MoT & Tyre Centre. Sadly the Atmospheric style decorative treatment has been removed and the auditorium gutted.
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