Our latest Curiosity of the Week is an unusually-shaped art deco building in Stretford, Manchester.
The Longford and Essoldo Cinema was built during the 1930s by Manchester businessmen Jackson and Newport to add to their portfolio of cinemas in the area. The building was designed by Henry Elder, of Roberts, Wood and Elder.
Elder designed the building in the unusual shape of a cash register to represent the money that was seen to dominate the film industry. This unusual design was also accompanied by three phallic symbols, also meant to be a comment on the film industry at the time.
The interior of the cinema was decorated in a highly fashionable style for the time, with the latest technology installed. Murals by artist Frederick H. Baines depicted music and dance, and comedy and drama. Art deco designs were featured in the auditorium and Venetian Marble was installed in the foyer. The building was kitted out with air conditioning, sound proofing, neon lighting and even heating for the seats.
By the 1950s the cinema was part of the Essoldo group of cinemas, joining other architectural gems such as the Essoldo Bethnal Green.
Sadly by the mid-1960s, cinemas were in decline and so the glory years of the Longford cinema came to an end. The building was turned into a bingo hall and unfortunately lost part of its frontage due to a road widening scheme.
Today the Grade II listed building lies empty, showing just the merest hint of its former glory. It would be nice to see this hidden gem brought back to life.
For more information on the fascinating history of the building visit longfordcinema.co.uk.
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