National Heritage report

Department of National Heritage
Schedule. The following building shall be added SJ 79 SE 1482-/S/10004
The Top Rank Club (former Essoldo Cinema)
  
   
 
Cinema, now club. 1936, by Henry Elder, of Roberts, Wood and Elder of Manchester, for the Jackson and Newport cinema circuit, with late C20 alterations. Of narrow red brick with faience tiled façade, with roofs concealed by tall brick walling. Arts Deco style. Set-back auditorium, with long foyer passage to Chester Road entrance, and shorter link to side entrance on Edge Road, set amidst contemporary buildings. The Chester Road entrance was designed to resemble a cash register, with stepped convex surfaces curving upwards and backwards, and an attached but advanced rib rising with less curvature designed to carry the vertically-displayed name ‘Top Rank’. A projecting band, carried across the face of both curve and rib is the sole horizontal element above the rectangular entrance canopy, which has a modern fascia. This sits above 3 evenly spaced double doorways, with tile covered flanking walls. Side entrance on Edge Road with tall convex brick wall above a semi circular canopy, the two components forming a circular entrance area above which rises a substantial tall, grooved concrete column. Directly beneath, supporting the canopy is a curved pier which divides the side entrance area, each part with a pair of original glazed double doors. To the right, a tall recessed panel set between tall brick piers stands above exit doors for the auditorium. Interior stalls area altered to form a bingo hall, but with little plan disturbed, with circle, projection room, upper floor bar, lighting rotunda and a café area above the foyer (now with a suspended ceiling) all surviving.

Foyer murals, designed by Frederick H. Baines, depicting contemporary cinema scenes, and each with 10×6 feet are thought to survive behind removable coverings. This was amongst the first, and is the only survivor of Elders’s cinemas, a building in which the striking and explicit frontage motifs are held to represent his belief that the film industry of the day was primarily concerned with money and sex. The design represents a dramatic departure from the theatre influenced cinema planning, and acknowledged the different spatial and technical requirements of wide screen cinematography.

Date 28 March 1994
Signed by the authority of the Secretary of State
T A Ellingford
A Higher Executive Officer in the Department of National Heritage

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