Liverpool Lighthouse has given the picturehouse a new lease of life

Once upon a time, Liverpool was a Tinsel Town in its own right and there was a cinema on every corner. Many flickered into darkness; The Trocadera, the Forum, Scala, Futurist, Palais De Luxe and the Jacey. But there’s a happy ending for one cinema in Anfield, thanks to the work of local charity, Liverpool Lighthouse.

Charlie and his wife Nell would have been very proud to know that their legacy is still living on.

More than 90 years after it first launched, The Gaumont Palace is reopening once again as a community cinema. The grand opening of The Liverpool Lighthouse cinema will take place on Saturday 3 December with a screening of The Greatest Showman sing-along, free to the community and invited VIP guests.

Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Andy Brown And Nicky Brown
Andy and Nicky Brown outside the Liverpool Lighthouse

Liverpool Lighthouse was established in 1998 and is now a creative sanctuary for its local communities and artists. The venue on Oakfield Road is home to recording studios, workshop rooms, a 430-seated auditorium and a café where families, younger & older generations get together to take part in events and activities. 

With support from Awards for All, LFC, Liverpool Mayoral Fund and CrowdFunding, the charity purchased and installed a cinema-quality AV system and screen in the auditorium along with other equipment to help create an authentic cinema experience. 

The cinema aims to promote well-being for the local community which has the highest levels of deprivation nationally, bringing people together in positive shared experience and provide cultural opportunities to promote connection and improved mental health and wellbeing.

Opening Of The Gaumont Liverpool 1931
Opening of The Gaumont cinema in 1931
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Inside The Cinema
The 1600 seat picturehouse
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Evergreen
The British musical 'Evergreen' was showing in 1934

The Gaumont Palace was built by the Gaumont British Picture Corporation and operated from 1931 to 1960. Photos from the archives capture some rare moments from the building's time as a cinema. 

Pre-internet and social media, the cinema promoters worked hard to get the message out and the audiences in to see their films. They produced elaborate promotional sets with costumes and props and often paraded through the streets of Anfield. Gaumont Palace attendants would often entertain the public before a film or even as a stand-alone event.

Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Trader Horn
The first movie shown was 'Trader Horn'
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Bring Em Back Alive
Foyer decorated for the film 'Bring 'Em Back Alive' in 1932
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Transatlantic
An early example of product placement! Whitestar Line came to advertise the showing of their promotional film

The original art deco cinema was opened and managed by Charlie Brown. His grandson Andy says Charlie would have loved the idea that the cinema was still alive and serving its community.

Andy Brown said, “Just like the Lighthouse, the cinema supported the community, bringing entertainment and opportunity to Anfield. Charlie and his wife Nell would have been very proud to know that their legacy is still living on." 

Despite its new modern facilities, the restoration of Liverpool Lighthouse has retained the vintage Art Deco feel by bringing back the old box office, installing popcorn makers, a candy floss trolley and lighting up the venue outside with a retro “Now showing” sign. Films will be on a regular basis from much loved classics to independent screenings, at an affordable price for all.

Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Characters
Members of staff often dressed as characters to promote the film
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema The Invisible Man
Who said that? 'The Invisible Man', 1933
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema A Cuckoo In The Nest
1933 - promoting 'A Cuckoo in the Nest'

Rebecca Ross-Williams, creative director of Liverpool Lighthouse said, “We plan to bring the experience of cinema back to the local community which has been culturally underserved for generations which affects particularly those in the most disadvantaged groups, including low-income families, people with disabilities, young people and older people. Many local people have told us they struggle to afford the costs to travel to and access other cinemas.”

“We are so fortunate that our venue can once again bring the joy of film to our local communities through a community cinema at Liverpool Lighthouse. It provides an opportunity for local people of all ages and backgrounds to come together in shared experiences which aim to promote happiness - which let’s face it is much needed."

Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Staff Carnival
Gaumont Palace attendants entertaining the public
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Jack Ahoy Cinema
Hello sailor - 'Jack Ahoy' in 1934
Gaumont Liverpool Lighthouse Cinema Summer Outing 1934
A summer outing for the staff in 1934

Rebecca added, “Older community members are excited that their grandchildren will be able to experience the joys of cinema that they remember from visiting Liverpool Lighthouse in their youth. Just to think that 91 years later the doors are opening for cinema!”

The grand opening of Liverpool Lighthouse cinema is on Saturday 3 December with two screenings of The Greatest Showman at 2pm and 6pm. Guests are encouraged to come in fancy dress inspired by show business and circus. 

All tickets for events at Liverpool Lighthouse are available from Eventbrite. For more information visit the Liverpool Lighthouse website.

Read next: In pictures: Cavern Quarter's iconic archways restored

Read again: Top things to do in Liverpool: November 2022

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