51 Argyle Street,
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Architects: Lewis Hornblower
Styles: Greek Revival
Previous Names: Theatre Royal, Scala Picture House
Located in Birkenhead, Merseyside. The Theatre Royal was opened on 31st October 1864. It was designed by architect Lewis Hornblower of Birkenhead. Seating was provided for 1,850 in orchestra, pit stalls, dress circle and gallery level plus boxes. It was damaged by a fire on 24th June 1892 and was closed for repairs to be carried out. Reopening again, it closed in 1905 for alterations to be carried out. In 1910 film were screened in the afternoons. It closed as live theatre on 8th January 1921 with the play “Romance”.
The theatre had been sold to Sol & Alfred Levy who converted it into the 976-seat Scala Picture House, and it was given a Greek Revival style interior. It had rear projection from a projection box built onto the former stage. The Scala Picture House opened on 25th April 1921 with Matheson Lang in “Carnival”. The cinema was equipped with a ‘straight’ organ to accompany the silent films. It boasted a café for the convenience of its patrons. On 5th August 1929 it became the first cinema in Birkenhead to screen talkies, when Davy Lee in “Sonny Boy” was shown, using a RCA sound system.
In February 1930 it was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain and was closed in July 1930 for two weeks to allow for an extensive redecoration. The Scala Cinema (as it was now called) re-opened August Bank Holiday Monday 1930 with Monty Banks in “The Compulsory Husband”. The Scala Cinema was closed on the 6th February 1937 with Bing Crosby in “Rhythm on the Range” and Joan Gardner in “Wings over Africa”.
The Scala Cinema was demolished and ABC’s new 2,100-seat Savoy Cinema was built on the site, which opened on the 10th October 1938.
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