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At the Abbey cinerama impressing the public was the first order of the day. It was a rule which applied to
both presentation and the professional service provided by the cinemas local staff. Many Abbey patrons will
remember the commodore style uniformed doormen who stood either side of the main green doors to
welcome you to into the building like you were a member of royalty, there was also the manager standing in
the foyer dressed in his black tuxedo and matching bow tie with a uncanny resemblance to Mr Rumbold the
manager from tv sittcom are you being served, who would regulary coordinate the evenings events in a
military style fashion as the dedicated friendly ushers guided you to your seats with real torches and a real
sense of occasion.
The lavish interior was also a part of the Abbey experience, many patrons compared it to “like stepping on
board a luxury liner” and it was very apparent from the moment you first set foot in the door that this splendid
super cinema was certainly built to impress with no expense spared
Like most urban single screen cinema’s the Abbey had just the one main evening performance every night,
which would always guarantee drawing a large crowd. The meeting place for friends and family to gather
before the show began was the capacious main foyer with it's lavish art deco furnishing with ceiling and wall
to wall mirrors reflecting the dark mahogany wall panels below a impressive crystal hanging chandelier.
Hidden somewhere amongst the gathering of patrons there stood a large glass panelled sweet counter
selling the evenings film program, toffee popcorn, poppets, cornetto and the unforgettable Orange flavored
Kia Ora drinks for the children amongst us to slurp noisely through the plastic straw at their hearts content.
Directly ahead in the foyer stood the showpiece Grand central Staircase with its lovingly polished brass
handrails. All it lacked was for Kate Winslett, Leonardo de Capri and a Hollywood cast of thousands to
appear down the steps as they did in the end cast scene of Titanic. In actual fact at the top of the staircase
there stood every working man's other fantasy.Yes it was the all important circle lounge bar. Being the first
cinema in Liverpool to be granted a license the bar was also somewhat of a novelty and a very popular
novelty at that. Not surprisingly when the intermission finally arrived during those long haul mouth drying
epics such as Lawrence of Arabia and the Towering Inferno, then the rush to the circle bar was often
reminiscent of a herd of thirsty wilder beast stampeding towards the nearest watering hole and god help
any of the cinema staff or management who stumbled across their path..
However If a drink at the bar wasn’t exactly to your taste then there was always the more sedate deco
circle lounge With its creaky ship style oak mosaic flooring and plush cream leather seats to relax in whilst
supping a hot beverage from the vending machine was it any wonder it felt just like being on board a luxury
ocean liner and easy to forget that the film was soon to commence.
The Show itself often began with a short film or featurette. In true theatrical traditions the short was shown
on a much smaller size screen to build up to the climax of the evenings much bigger screen attraction,
Having a short film before the main feature also allowed patrons to arrive at a more leisurely pace and if the
68,79 or 99 bus was full then any late arrivals would still be sure of catching the main feature before it
Once you had settled in to watch the show who could ask for a more technically perfect setting to watch
that film on. The awe inspiring giant screen was said to have been one of the biggest and brightest screens
in the uk. An American movie moguel who visited the Abbey said after the show “It was a incredible jaw-
dropping experience that will stay with me forever” and went on to describe the colossal screen as being
the Eighth wonder of the cinematic world.
Those fortunate enough to have seen a film at the Abbey will no doubt be very familiar with there own jaw-
dropping moments as they watched the biggest picture you could ever wish for first appear on to the
Abbey’s infamous giant screen and they will surely agree that a night out with friends and family at the
Abbey Cinerama was a real sense of occasion that will remain in their hearts and minds forever.
Dedicated to all staff and Patrons who have memories of the Abbey Cinema
PRESENTED IN 70MM PANAVISION
Abbey Cinema History