pened as the Forum Cinema on 16th May 1931 with Clifford Mollison in “Almost A Honeymoon”. It was designed by William R. Glen and Alfred Ernest Shennan for Associated British Cinemas(ABC) at a cost in excess of 200,000 pounds.

A massive six-storey curved Portland stone facade remains a distinctive and highly prominent feature of Lime Street – one of Liverpool’s major thoroughfares. The foyer was lined with Italian marble.

The auditorium, in a semi-Atmospheric style, depicted Venetian scenes, contains an amazing proscenium treatment consisting of a vast curved canopy over the arch and the side boxes. Indirect light light was a feature, except for a huge ‘sunburst’ light fitting above the balcony.

A shallow stage was provided together with a Compton 3Manual/12Ranks organ on a lift in front of the stage, which was opened by organist Reginald Foort.

Because of the relatively small width of the site the 1,835 capacity was achieved by having a huge circle containing 750 of the seats.

It was re-named ABC from 17th February 1971 and due to its opulence and excellent location the cinema survived intact until 1982 when it was converted to a three screen operation by installing two mini-cinemas under the balcony seating 272 and 217 seats.

From 1986 it had been re-named Cannon. It closed on 29th January 1998 with a special screening of Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”, when a special admission fee of 50p was charged.

There were proposals to convert the building into a conference centre, but these stalled and the building has stood empty since closing. Proposals were put forward in late-2007 to convert it into a ‘boutique’ hotel and supper club, with plans going to Liverpool City Council in July 2008 and if permission was granted, work could start in late-2008. The building remained unused and was de-tripled in 2016.

RAF Cinema Habbaniya (Astra)

Habbaniya is about 50 miles west of Baghdad in Iraq

It was an RAF base from just after the first world war when the UK managed the area, formerly part of the Turkish Empire
It was important as it protected oil interests in the middle east

Up to 4000 British personnel were based there during the 1930’s and 1940’s but it was reduced during the 1950’s until 1962 when it was fully handed over to the Iraqi air force

It became quite a large township with many Iraqis providing services
The major building work was in the 1930’s and the Astra cinema was built then – complete with open air cinema for summer use beside the main building
In the middle of summer, the cinema building was too hot, inside, for use
It was a job at the start and end of summer to dismantle the projectors and move them between the indoor projection box and the outdoor one
I was at Habbabiya during national service from 1955 to 1957 and I helped out in the projection box at the time