HOW sad that the Birkenhead Plaza has finally been demolished, writes David Ellis.

The Plaza was run by Bedford cinemas (1928) Ltd from its opening on Saturday, August 4, 1930, one of several cinemas the firm owned on Merseyside, including the Mayfair Aigburth and Abbey Wavertree.

The opening film at the Plaza was 'The Last of Mrs Cheynee' starring Norma Shearer. The seating capacity listing varies from 2,560 to 2,293 - I am told this was the largest seating capacity on Merseyside until the coming of the Paramount, later Odeon Liverpool, which had room for more than 2,600.

There were four dressing rooms and the stage was 18 feet deep. Jack McAree became the first manager and went on to become the circuits booking manager.

The hall housed a Compton organ. I am told that it was the first installed in a Merseyside cinema and that Frank Gordon, who played at the hall in the late thirties, was the last practicing organist on Merseyside. In 1946 after a spell at the Mayfair, Aigburth, he returned to the Plaza, remaining until he went to the Ritz in 1951.

There was a 22-piece orchestra, conducted by Louis Cohen, who gave a 20-minute show at both the first and second houses

The theatre was bombed in World War two, damaging the organ chamber, but repairs were carried out after the war and up in the box Western Electric sound was employed. The chief operator was a Mr Norman Bullen.

The Plaza also had a caf and a writing room (not usual in a cinema) that patrons could use while waiting for a performance but the building went the way of many others, presenting part time cinema and bingo in more recent times. At the time of closure it was on full time bingo, run by Mecca.