Saturday, 21 January 2017

Who will have seen this? Inside the old Palais de Luxe

Now I know it must be time for a holiday, one of those get away and reflect on the balance of my life type holidays. 

And why? Well because today I was over the moon at being allowed to see the last remnant of the old Palais de Luxe cinema on Barlow Moore Road.

It has featured in my blogs and in blogs yet to come. Opened in 1915 and closed around 1958 it was the first real picture house here in Chorlton. In telling its story I have come across Charles Ireland the photographer, H D Moorhouse the cinema chain mogul and tracked a wonderful picture of the place to East Dunbartonshire.

And today I gazed on all that is left. Steve the manager of the Co-op store allowed me upstairs to what is now the warehouse. It was I had been told just an open space with nothing left, but that is not entirely the case.

Standing at the front of the cinema roughly where the projectionist would have been you have a wonderful view of the curved roof with all the wooden roof beams bereft of plaster arching over the void.

 But the real treasure is the almost complete set of plaster mouldings which once would have stood proud over the cinema screen.

I guess no more than a few dozen people will have seen it since the picture house went dark. And in the great sweep of the history of plaster moulding I don’t think we are talking high art, but it is all that is left of the old Palais and not I think too much of an exaggeration to describe it as a link with our past.

I can think of numerous people who I know who will have sat in their seats and idly looked at the design while waiting for the big picture. In the week beginning Sunday May 7th 1928 underneath its sweeping arch the Palais showed a mixed bunch of films.

The Call of the Heart was a Western featuring Dynamite the dog, Long Pants a comedy with Harry Langdon, The Climbers a historical melodrama located in the Spanish Empire, during the reign of King Ferdinand VII and Sky High Saunders about a “daredevil pilot who took on all comers and prevailed, whether it was gangsters, good-or-bad women or bad weather.”

And on the night before William Rees and his Orchestra played from 7.30pm. He was a popular musician during the interwar years and later performed in Blackpool and for a time was the conductor of The Huddersfield Philharmonic.

So there you have it a little of the lost cinema history of Chorlton.
Pictures; the exterior of the cinema just after it closed, by A H Downes, May 1959 m09248, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  and the interior by kind permission of Co-operative Group, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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