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OBITUARY: Harold Ackroyd.

YOU can almost hear the fanfares, the roar of the lion and the sounding of that great gong when their names are mentioned - the Rivoli, the Empire, the Odeon, the Gaumont, the Coliseum, the Astoria, the Scala, the Regal and Roxy, the Stella, the Ritz, the Plaza, the Grand and so on and on.

He loved them all - the glorious palaces, where Stan and Ethel and all the other courting couples could forget their mean bosses, the rain and pathetically thin pay packets to enter the world of dreams - made faraway in Hollywood, where men were brave, women were beautiful and death was noble.

But Harold Ackroyd, who projected the films, and then went on to manage some of the great cinemas on Merseyside, was a maker of dreams himself.

This was known to friends and neighbours, who stepped into the cinema he built in two upstairs rooms of his house in Waterloo.

The rich-red chairs flipped back just as they did in real picture palaces. The curtains were ruched and Ackroyd shone the images on to the silver screen from his very own projection room.

During the interval, he would put on organ music to remind viewers of how it had really been in the happy days before bingo and TV ended the great days of film.

At the end of the show, his wife, Dorothy Douglas, would serve cups of tea and other refreshments and everyone would talk about the films.

They didn't really like the new films so much with the extreme violence and sex, but the old ones were wonderful "We had some hilarious evenings up there," she recalled, "particularly when Laurel and Hardy were on - the situations they used to get into. Ah, dear, it was such fun. We had no end of favourites."

Ackroyd, a slim and dapper figure, spent all his professional life in films, managing some fine cinemas in the North West.

But he is even better known for his books, telling the definitive history of the industry on Merseyside - the Picture Palaces of Liverpool, the Picture Palaces of Merseyside, From Silent to Sound and the Dream Palaces of Liverpool. He also wrote about the theatre in the Liverpool Stage and Southport: Stage and Screen.

A service is being held for him at Anfield Crematorium at 10.30am tomorrow.

Harold Ackroyd, cinema expert, born May 1, 1923; died August 26, 2008.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 2, 2008
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