Former Art Deco Liverpool cinema set to reopen

In 1930 the Gaumont Palace cinema opened in north Liverpool only to close in 1960 – now from December it is set to welcome movie fans once again. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool Lighthouse
Liverpool Lighthouse in Anfield is to reopen as a cinema. Picture by Tony McDonough


Gaumont Palace opened in Oakfield Road in Anfield in 1930 at what was the beginning of a golden age for British cinema-going.

Then housing 1,500 movie-goers, the Gaumont entertained people throughout the 1930s, during the Second World War and in the post-war years when annual British cinema attendances peaked at 1.64bn admissions.

However, the 1950s saw a decline in the popularity of cinemas and, like so many community picture houses, the Gaumont closed for the final time in 1960.

Now the Art Deco building, located just yards away from Liverpool FC’s famous Anfield stadium, is to see a return of the big screen experience. It is to be brought back to life as a community cinema after a successful £25,000 crowdfunding.

Since 1998, the building has been home to a community centre called Liverpool Lighthouse. It is regularly used for gospel, music, arts and community events.

A registered charity, Liverpool Lighthouse is also home to recording studios, workshop rooms and a café in what is one of the most deprived areas of the city. Its 430-seat auditorium, already used for dance and music shows, will now house the new cinema.

With support from Awards for All, Liverpool FC, Liverpool Mayoral Fund and crowdfunding, Liverpool Lighthouse purchased and installed a cinema-quality AV system and screen in the auditorium.

And on Saturday, December 3, it will finally reopen its doors to show its first film. When the Gaumont opened in 1930 its first movie was romantic comedy The Devil to Pay. In December its first showing will be a sing-a-long screening of The Greatest Showman, based on the life and work of the legendary PT Barnum.

People living in the local community will be given free entry but must book a place via EventBrite by clicking here. This will be followed by ‘pay-what-you-can’ screenings in December and January. On the opening night guests are encouraged to come in fancy dress, inspired by showbusiness and the circus.

There will also be a special guest on the night – Andy Brown. He is the grandson of Charlie who was the manager of the Gaumont from 1931 to 1935.

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

The cinema aims to promote well-being for the local community at a time when people are struggling with the cost of living crisis. It will look to bring people together in a positive shared experience and provide creative, cultural opportunities.


Liverpool Lighthouse
The Gaumont Palace in Anfield first opened in 1930
Liverpool Lighthouse
When it opened in 1930 the Gaumont Palace in Anfield had a capacity for 1,500 people
Liverpool Lighthouse
Guests at the opening night of the Gaumont Palace in Anfield in 1930


Restoration of Liverpool Lighthouse involved installing a 10-metre Cine Pro electrical screen. The project also gave the venue that extra vintage feel back by adding to the Art Deco that has remained preserved.

This includes bringing the historical box office back to life, installing popcorn makers, candy floss trolleys and lighting up the venue outside with a retro ‘now showing’ sign.

Rebecca Ross-Williams, creative director of Liverpool Lighthouse, added: “There is currently no local cinema. We plan to bring the experience of cinema back to the local community.

“It has been culturally underserved for generations. This particularly affects 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.”

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