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MRS  TITTLETATTLES  BIGGER PICTURE
Mrs T Tells it how it is  One small step for so much money Walking down Mason Street recently I could hardly believe my eyes when seeing a long queue of patrons making their way into Woolton’s cinema through the cinema’s back exit doors, if my memory serves me right the last time something like this happened was way back in the early 1960’s during the children’s Saturday matinee, when word got round the cinema queue that the cinema doorman was soaking his swollen foot bunions in a bowl of water,allowing some young scally to take the initiative of opening the back doors to let everyone in.Thinking to myself the same young scally had all grown up and was up to his same old tricks again, I decided to join the queue hoping to treat myself to a free show, only to be confronted by a similar looking doorman this time with bunions growing out his nostrils growling at me that “The ticket cashier would be along soon to provide me a ticket”, cue my Hasty retreat! Seems like on this occasion the reason for the long queue forming at the back door was actually because the front main entrance was closed for health and safety reasons after the marble steps leading up had suffered detrimental weather damage and were deemed unsafe to tread. Now it doesn’t seem all that long ago to me that the current same family owners found it in their wise wisdom to hastely demolish the cinemas front canopy with broken promises to the nearby residents of building a bigger and better one for all of Mason Street to be proud of, only to end up with what now looks more like an abandoned giant size hanging basket frame. A somewhat ill-thought out decision at best being a false economy and at worst negligent when the obvious advantages of having a canopy in the first place is if not just to keep safe the rain sodden queueing customs then to protect their own property and external architectural fixtures from the elements of the weather.  If you excuse the pun you could say it’s like taking one Step forward and three steps back. Even the smallest of restoration repairs to the cinemas marble steps have in the past proven to be a costly four figure sum and having to replace them altogether with like for like marble stoneware would likely cost more than the price of a new canopy. Due to the recent closure of Cineworld’s Eight screen cinema and the nearby Odeon Allerton, Woolton Picture house has been raking in the money over the festive season, with the‘sold out’ sign making a regular weekly appearance. The time’s about right for the cinema owners to plough some of it back in and fulfill their earlier broken promises to all the neighbours who have for the last ten years or so had to endure looking out their windows every day at a half-finished uninviting cinema facade.  It’s been said in the past that the cinema is a hidden gem, sounds about right to me but the gem part could really do with being a bit less hidden. As one former owner once said “first impressions do count”. Mrs Tittletattle highlighted the rpitfalls of removing the canopy back in 2011 and the importance of it being there, its fortunate up to now nobody has slipped fell and injured themselves on the slippery when wet steps and a shame nobody heeded Mrs T’s wise words. The cinemas marble steps may not exactly be Mason Streets answer to the Jaffa Gate but they have always been a part of the cinemas original fixtures and fittings and that’s the way they should remain for future generations to come. Read Mrs T’s 2011 article on the Demise of the canopy
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Image Left: The canopy as it was in the 1960’s, looking tidy and finished, providing at least some shelter from the elements of the weather. Image Middle:The canopy & facade transformed in 2006 as a location setting for  the BBC drama Lillies. Albeit a temporary stage prop,but gives an indication of what could be achieved with imagination and a new skin. Image Right:The canopy in its current state as an abandoned project with slippery when wet steps, lacking adequate downlighting and being open to the elements may threaten the marble steps length of service.