Threatened Beatles cinema needs a Lidl help from its friends
The supermarket chain now controls the fate of Liverpool’s Abbey picture house – one of John Lennon’s favourite places
In the mid-1960s John Lennon wrote some lyrics that would eventually become the Beatles classic In My Life. He later described his rejected first draft, which name-checked places near his Liverpool home, as “the most boring sort of ‘what I did on my holidays bus trip’ song”.
In the original version, among the “places I’ll remember all my life” was the Abbey cinema in Wavertree. “In the circle of the Abbey, I have seen some happy hours,” he wrote. Fellow Beatle George Harrison was also a regular.
By 1979, a magnificent art deco edifice that could accommodate more than 1,800 people in its vast double-tier auditorium, had reached the end of its life as a cinema. Now a campaign has been launched to save the building amid fears that its owners, the supermarket chain Lidl, could seek to demolish it and replace it with a purpose-built store on the site.
An application for the Abbey to be listed has been submitted to Historic England, and almost 2,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the building’s preservation and suggesting its upper floors could be used for community arts.
Clare Devaney of Love Wavertree, which organised the petition, said“Wavertree has been pretty neglected and there’s been under-investment, but it has a beautiful built heritage. The Abbey has architectural value, cultural value and a Beatles heritage”.
The Cinema Theatre Association, which is supporting the listing application, said the Abbey was “a fine example of the best cinema design of its period, designed by an important Liverpool architect to be worthy of its prominent site in the historic Wavertree village. It formed a key part of the landscape in which at least two of the Beatles grew up, and their references to it give it outstanding national importance.”