Continental Picture House

Liscard Road and Clarendon Road,
Wallasey, CH44 9AF

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Additional Info

Styles: French Renaissance

Previous Names: Old Court House Picturedrome, Kinema, Kings Cinema, Picture House

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Continental Picture House

In what was perhaps the most unusual conversion of a building to cinema use in Wallasey, on the Wirral, it was announced on Saturday 31st January 1914 that the Old Court House would be presenting a programme of “all-star pictures”, including “Her Majesty The Little Queen”. Seating was for 400, and one of the former cells in the basement provided the accommodation for the electricity generator.

This is believed to have been named the Old Court House Picturedrome, but the rather austere surroundings did not find favour with patrons, and the cinema closed on 13th June 1914 for redecoration. It re-opened on 14th November 1914, as the Kinema, with “Partners in Crime”.

It seems it was hard to please the patrons, as the Kinema was redecorated in 1919 and, again, in 1921. An added attraction in 1922 was Maurice Faust’s Augmented Jazz and Symphony Band. Soon afterwards the cinema was renamed the Kings Cinema.

As late as January 1931 the Kings Cinema was proudly proclaiming that “Our Silent Films Are Still a Big Attraction”, but later that year it bowed to the inevitable and a British Talking Pictures(BTP) sound system was installed.

By 1941 the Kings Cinema was in very poor condition, not helped by the drinking problems of the lessee, Arthur Bell, who used to disappear into a local pub after collecting the night’s takings!

In May 1946 Gordon Hewart took over, and renamed the cinema the Picture House. Renovation and redecoration took place, and amateur nights were introduced.

By 1947 the cinema was owned by Leslie Blond. In April 1949 he presented a season of continental films that was so successful that he started showing foreign films almost exclusively, and renamed the cinema the Continental Picture House.

However, the Continental Picture House closed, on Saturday 2nd November 1963, with a double bill originating a little closer to home: “The Quare Fellow”, starring Patrick McGoohan, and Peter Sellers in “The Battle of the Sexes”.

The building went into use as a bingo hall operated by Hutchinson’s as a Surewin Bingo Club from 1963 until around 1985. It has since been demolished. Flats now occupy the site (between Clarendon Road and Falkland Road).

Contributed by David Simpson
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