13 Crosby Road North,
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A survivor in the Liverpool suburb of Waterloo, south of Crosby, the Plaza Cinema opened on 2nd September 1939 with Edna Best in “South Riding”. Due to World War II breaking out on that day, the Plaza Cinema holds the distinction of being the only cinema to open and close on the same day. (Public buildings including cinemas and theatres were ordered to close by the governement, but this order was rescinded after a couple of weeks).
It was designed by architect Lionel A.G. Prichard and built by Ernest Spencer & Company of Aintree for the independent operator Crosby Entertainments Ltd. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/5Rank + melotone unit theatre organ with a fixed illuminated console, which was opened by organist George Dawson.
The Plaza Cinema has been through several ownerships over the years. In 1943 it became part of Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain and was re-named Odeon. Classic Cinemas Ltd. took over on 10th December 1967 and it became the Classic Cinema.
It was converted into a three screen cinema in August 1976: (1: 650 seats, 2 & 3: 103 seats each). Screen 1 is most impressive retaining the feel of the original cinema using the circle and front stalls area. The Screen’s 2 & 3 additions are tucked away out of sight under the balcony. Classic Cinemas were taken over by the Cannon Group in May 1983 and it was re-named Cannon. Taken over by Apollo Leisure Ltd. in March 1990, it was re-named Apollo. They announced its closure in 1996 and it closed on 7th November 1996. A groundswell of public opinion saved the cinema and it reopened as the Plaza Cinema on 18th July 1977. The Plaza Cinema is now operated by a charity and is supported by teams of unpaid volunteers who help to keep it operating as a true ‘community’ cinema.
In October 2018 it was announced that the Plaza Cinema would have an organ again. It will be the Wurlitzer 3Manual, 8Ranks organ (with ghost piano) that was originally installed in the Ritz Cinema(later ABC), Ipswich in January 1937. In June 1973 it was removed from the ABC. In the 1980’s it was installed in the Hollywood Plaza Cinema, Scarborough, but in later years got very little use. Installation will begin in early-2019.
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