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Report - The Olympia, Liverpool, May 2011

Discussion in 'Theatres and Cinemas' started by Bovine, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. Bovine

    Bovine 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

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    About a mile east of the city centre and surrounded by terraced housing, Frank Matcham designed this as a 3750 seat theatre, which opened in April 1905.Though with rich Indian style decorations, the greatest feature was the stage, a 42 foot diameter section of which could descend and be replaced by an 80,000 gallon tank of water for aquatic displays. This was all done by hydraulic rams.
    Despite valliant efforts, the theatre was never profitable and was sold to Savoy Cinemas in 1925, who converted it into a cinema with 3400 seats. When "The Singing Fool" sound film was shown in 1929, for the first time the capacity was insufficient and queues stretched out of sight! ABC leased it in the same year, but closed it as unprofitable in 1939.
    A naval store during the war, Mecca opened it in 1949 as the Locarno Ballroom. This lasted until 1964 when it was further converted to a bingo club. This was blighted by the wholesale clearance of the surrounding housing in the 1960's and after a five year closure in the 1980's, re-opened only to be sold to the same company that owned the Grafton Rooms next door. Closed again until April 2000, when it became a venue for functions, concerts and wrestling.
    Currently up for sale, with a price tag of £1.7 million, it is listed, but the future is uncertain for such a huge building.

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    Beneath the stage, a section of which would have descended into the pit. The remains of the hydraulic ram is visible in the centre. There is an urban myth that this was an elephant pit for circus presentations. The concrete pillars were added in the 1980's.

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    Remains of a horizontal ram

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    In the fly tower

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    ditto

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    The basements contained a lot of disused areas, - and junk! This was one of the original cloakrooms.

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    One of the disused toilets

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    Vintage
     

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