Cannon Liverpool

Lime Street,
Liverpool, L1 1JN

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Cannon Cinemas

Architects: William Riddell Glen, Arthur Ernest Shennan

Styles: Art Deco, Atmospheric

Previous Names: Forum Cinema, ABC

Nearby Theaters

Cannon Liverpool

Opened as the Forum Cinema on 16th May 1931 with Clifford Mollison in “Almost A Honeymoon”. It was designed by architects William Riddle Glen and Alfred Ernest Shennan for Associated British Cinemas(ABC) at a cost in excess of £200,000.

A massive six-storey curved Portland stone façade remains a distinctive and highly prominent feature of Lime Street - one of Liverpool’s major thoroughfares and across the street from Liverpool Lime Street Railway Station. The foyer was lined with Italian marble.

The auditorium, in a semi-Atmospheric style, depicted Venetian scenes, contains an amazing proscenium treatment consisting of a vast curved canopy over the arch and the side boxes. Indirect light was a feature, except for a huge ‘sunburst’ light fitting above the balcony.

A shallow stage was provided together with a Compton 3Manual/12Ranks organ on a lift in front of the stage, which was opened by organist Reginald Foort.

Because of the relatively small width of the site the 1,835 capacity was achieved by having a huge circle containing 750 of the seats.

It was re-named ABC from 17th February 1971 and due to its opulence and excellent location the cinema survived intact until 1982 when it was converted to a three screen operation by installing two mini-cinemas under the balcony seating 272 and 217 seats.

From 1986 it had been re-named Cannon. It closed on 29th January 1998 with a special screening of Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”, when a special admission fee of 50p was charged.

There were proposals to convert the building into a conference centre, but these stalled and the building has stood empty since closing. Proposals were put forward in late-2007 to convert it into a ‘boutique’ hotel and supper club, with plans going to Liverpool City Council in July 2008 and if permission was granted, work could start in late-2008. The building remained unused and was de-tripled in 2016. In 2017, plans were proposed to turn the cinema into a music & TV studio. The British broadcaster Channel 4 bid to have the building as its new HQ, however it was turned down by Liverpool council and Channel 4 relocated to the former Majestic Cinema, Leeds, which had been destroyed by fire, leaving only the outer walls standing.

It was reported in April 2022 that the central ABC ‘spider’ chandelier light fitting above the auditorium had fallen and smashed into the seats below. 24 years after closing, the building still sits unused in 2022. It was badly damaged for a fire on June 8, 2023.

It is a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Davell on July 30, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Projectors were Ross with RCA sound. Light was provided by Peerless Magnarc. Later Philips FP20s were used.

AdoraKiaOra on September 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Is this the big cinema behind The Empire Theatre. If not what is the huge place i see on Google maps?

fatbarry2000 on January 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm


The place directly behind the Empire Theatre is the former Odeon – it was closed in 2008. The Forum is at the other end of Lime Street – as you move down it you can see the railway station roof on the right. Immediately after the station is a single square tower block, and opposite this diagonally is a large building with a curved front (in the image I can see on Google Maps there is a red bus and a green/white bus turning right in front of the building). This is the old Forum cinema.

This map shows a few of the Cinemas on/around Lime Street (best seen in Satellite View).

TLSLOEWS on August 26, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Great Lime Steet photo smoothie.

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on March 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Please click on photos for 3 more pictures.

Philip Picturedrome
Philip Picturedrome on January 28, 2017 at 6:25 am

It was one of the sites used for the Liverpool Biennial of 2016. It’s been de-tripled and all the ground floor seating has gone. Apart from damage caused by the de-tripling, the interior is in a sorry state, with an alarming hole in the ceiling. The public were not allowed to go upstairs.

rivest266 on June 19, 2021 at 12:18 am

Grand opening ads posted. It reopened as ABC123 Liverpool on August 25th, 1982.

madorganplayer on April 18, 2023 at 10:13 pm

I think those rooms up above the stage were the empty Compton pipe organ chambers.It spoke out through those openings and then through the grille immediately above the stage.Unless there is another room above there ,because it has always been rumoured that all the organ pipes and mechanism were still there. so i presume you found no evidence of any higher up rooms.? The organ was said to be removed in 1954 when a cinemasope screen was installed neccesitating the removal of the organ console (on the lift).But that is only 10% of the organ.It was said that the organ chamber was entered from a door on the roof.Perhaps you can investigate that further?

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