Palais de Luxe, Lime Street, 1948
Palais de Luxe, 1959
Technical Achievement, 1960
I have learnt not to push my lack of knowledge in certain subjects. Railways and ships spring immediately to mind – there are hundreds of experts out there who will tell you how many rivets were used in every ship and train. Cinemas has its own aficionados whose knowledge puts mine to shame. I published Harold Ackroyd’s Picture Palaces of Liverpool a few years back (recently reprinted) and received a number of letters pointing out small errors of fact that Harold had made, particularly about opening dates. So if I do get the occasional fact wrong, please accept my apologies and post your corrections – I won’t be insulted.
The Palais de Luxe was a place of entertainment from the 1840s when it started out as the Teutonic Hall. Many of the most famous acts of the nineteenth century trod its boards, including Henry Inving, General Tom Thumb and Dan Leno. Curiosity acts included the Siamese Twins and Anna Swan, the Nova Scotia Giantess. Less curious but equally politically incorrect were the minstrel troupes that were immensely popular including the American Slave Serenaders, advertised as ‘the only combination of genuine darkies in the world.’ The Teutonic Hall had changed its name to St James’s Hall in 1868 only to burn down in 1875. Rebuilt, it eventually was renamed the Tivoli Music Hall before switching to films in 1908. Its final renaming as the Palais de Luxe saw it survive wartime bombing (the top photograph shows how close it came to total destruction), a further fire in 1951 and rebuilding for a final time before it eventually closed in 1959 to make way for the current uninspiring shop development.
In the second photograph, an interesting sculpture can be seen on its facade. This was the largest aluminium statue in the country, designed by WL Stephenson, principal of the College of Art. Titled ‘Technical Achievement’, it was rescued from the scrapyard by the architects of the Palais de Luxe and re-sited at Riversdale Technical College at Aigburth. In 1972, Technical Achievement was taken down because it accumulated bird droppings and was regarded as a health hazard and put into storage but what happened to it since? Does anyone know? It may not be a masterpiece but it is an interesting example of 1950s art and could make a strong visual statement in the right place (outside FACT?).