Astra Entertainment Centre
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Previously operated by: Apollo Cinemas, Hutchinson Cinemas
Architects: Alexander Webber
Previous Names: Albany Cinema
Located in Maghull, to the north of Liverpool. The Albany Cinema was opened on 28th September 1955 with Ethel Merman in “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. It was designed by architect Alexander Webber, seating was provided for 1,400 on a stadium plan, with a raised stepped section at the rear, rather than a conventional overhanging balcony. There was no proscenium opening as the CinemaScope screen was 47ft wide and curved into the side-walls of the auditorium. Behind the screen was an 8ft deep stage, but this had little, if any use. There was a car park which could accommodate 400 cars.
The Albany Cinema was taken over by the Hutchinson Leisure Group of Burnley and they closed it as a single screen cinema on 1st February 1975 with Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon” and “King Boxer”. Two mini cinemas, each seating 193 were constructed in the former raised section of the auditorium and the front part of the stalls was converted into a 500 seat bingo club. It re-opened as the Astra Entertainment Centre on 5th June 1975 with Cine 1 screening “Man About the House” and “The Best of Benny Hill”, and Cine 2 screening “Freebie and the Bean”.
In 1981 the bingo club was closed and this area was converted into two 300 seat cinemas which opened on 20th December 1991 with “Assault on Precinct 13” and “Halloween” in Cine 3, and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in Cine 4. In June 1986 it was taken over by the Apollo Leisure Group. They closed the Astra Entertainment Centre on 27th April 1995.
The building stood unused, and in 1997 plans were proposed, but turned down, to convert it into a supermarket. In 1998 plans for a newly built supermarket were granted and the Astra Entertainment Centre was demolished.
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Photo taken in 1984 by Philip G Mayer, before he learned (the hard way) to ‘watermark’ his stuff. https://www.flickr.com/photos/44435674@N00/227025692/in/photolist-m4yQ5-9YWTG8-a25rpX-bCmqsJ-aiWZcf-6eBasJ-6eB9Sb-yh5vLX-A3mnQA-bkso4p-bksnXi-bksocz-4iEUDx-bTE2Eg-5m7aUt-4wfDMK-4iJBAU-azjyRd-a3HKD5-4xrJ8Y-4FGpLc
Three Grand opening ads posted. When the Albany Cinema opened, it was the first new cinema to open in Merseyside in 20 years.