At the north end of Lime Street, on the opposite side to the Futurist Cinema, is the much more imposing former Forum Cinema, designed for the ABC circuit by William R Glen and Ernest A Shennan and opened in 1931, “one of W R Glen’s finest”, according to the Theatres Trust website: http://www.theatrestrust.org.uk/resources/theatres/show/2102-forum-liverpool.
This splendid Portland stone building occupies a corner site corresponding to Lewis’s department store at the other end of Lime Street.
Its fine interior, described by some writers as “semi-Atmospheric”, was a celebration of the possibilities of indirect lighting using Holophane reflectors with a sunburst light-feature in the ceiling. On each side of the proscenium are curious relief panels, supposedly Venetian though both include recognisable representations of the Chrysler Building.
The architects contrived to squeeze a big auditorium, originally 1,835 seats, into a constricted space 150 feet × 75 feet, by creating a huge balcony seating 750 and placing the projection ports high above the rear circle with a throw of 146 feet.
Such a narrow auditorium was less than ideal for wide-screen films, and when the Forum was tripled in 1982 a false ceiling was inserted from the balcony front so that the proportions of the proscenium were lost.
It finally closed in January 1998 with a showing of Casablanca at 50p per seat and has remained unused. Although (or perhaps because) it’s listed Grade II, the various proposals for the building have so far come to nothing.
A recent urban explorer report shows that the division between stalls and circle has been removed, recovering the original auditorium space: http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/leisure-sites/32830-abc-cinema-liverpool-march-2016-a.html#.V0O15Y-cGUk.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on Liverpool architecture, please click here.
The 68-page, A4 handbook for the 2011 Liverpool’s Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps, a chronology and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To view sample pages click here. Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.