The former Gaumont cinema on Park Road East, Birkenhead has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Southport based property developers, 79th Homes.
An application for planning permission for conversion into 25-30 apartments is currently underway. The project is at such an early stage that conversion blueprints for the building have not yet been released by 79th Group.
Jake Webster (pictured), Managing Director with 79th Homes said: “The history of this building is fascinating. The hand and footprints of British film star, Nova Pilbeams, who starred in two of Alfred Hitchcock’s pre-Hollywood films, can still be seen on the pavement adjacent to the entrance!
“If we can, we’d like to incorporate them into the redevelopment of the building which represents a unique and exciting project in an area of substantial planned regeneration. Subject to planning, we are confident that we can convert this building in line with its surrounds and environment, maintaining the original façade and many of the historic, internal features but also providing modern, quality, affordable housing which is in great demand in this area.”
The Gaumont cinema was purpose-built and opened on May 30th, 1938 by a film star of the day, with the glorious name of Nova Pilbeam. However, by the 1960s audiences had switched to television, making the cinema no longer profitable and it was closed by the Rank Organisation on January 4th, 1964. It reopened as a bingo hall in April of the same year, but this closed 22 years later, in 1986. Following a short stint as a snooker club that closed in 1990 the building was unoccupied for a few years and suffered from fire damage during this time. In December 1993 it once again reopened, this time as a roller skating rink. In recent years it has been in use as the ‘Furniture World’ furniture store.