116 Lord Street,
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In the seaside resort of Southport, Merseyside on Lord Street and London Square opposite the War Memorial. The Palais de Dance opened on 29th May 1925. Designed by Southport architect George E. Tonge, the façade was of Portland stone, and was 135ft long. At the time, it was the largest dance hall in the North West, with a 10,000sqft parquet floor that could accommodate 1,500 dancers.
The first resident band was led by Billy Cotton, taking his first steps on the road to fame. Indeed, his departure in October 1927 saw the beginning of the Palais' decline, although its premature closure in 1929 was more directly the result of a waitress’s allegations about the conduct in rooms allocated for ‘private dancing lessons’!
George E. Tonge was re-engaged to convert the Palais into a ‘talkie’ cinema, equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. A seating capacity of 1,357 was achieved, in stalls and balcony. There was a large stage, an orchestra pit and dressing rooms and other facilities in case variety acts were programmed.
The Trocadero Cinema opened Monday 28th October 1929 with MGM’s “The Broadway Melody”, starring Charles King and Anita Page. The Mayor officiated at the Grand Opening.
On 7th July 1930 the Compton 2 manual 8 ranks organ was opened by Herbert A. Dowson who had previously be organist at the Tivoli Cinema, Strand, London. Organ interludes continued during the 1930’s, but it gradually fell out of use.
CinemaScope with stereophonic sound arrived on 12th April 1954 with “The Robe”, starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons. Although this provided a boost to the Trocadero Cinema’s fortunes, it was already suffering from the number of circuit cinemas in the town, and had lost its first-run status.
So it was not surprising when, in September 1960, it was announced that the site had been sold for re-development as an extension of a Woolworths store.
The Trocadero Cinema closed on 1st October 1960 with a double bill of “The Planter’s Wife”, starring Jack Hawkins and Claudette Colbert, and Rock Hudson in the ironically titled “Never Say Goodbye”.
During demolition, the Compton organ was removed. Its whereabouts was not generally known for some 25 years, before the Cinema Organ Society tracked it down to the West Gallery of Parkend Church in the Forest of Dean.
The British Heart Foundation occupy a building on the site of the Trocadero in 2021.
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