In 2004, Wirral Council commissioned a ‘Masterplan’ for Hoylake and West Kirby. It makes fascinating reading. There’s reference in there to a proposed project SH8: Beacon for the Coast. Here is the relevant extract:
3.141 It is recognised that the whole of the North Parade, Meols Parade and South Parade needs investment in its public realm, infrastructure and overall environment, however, specific points of activity along the parade such as ‘The Beach’ are key projects to attracting new investment that will ‘kick start’ the wider improvements needed along these Parades.
3.142 These projects will influence but not fully finance the investment required along the full length of the three parades. Wirral Borough Council must commit to a long term improvement framework that outlines a phased enhancement programme but also retains the flexibility to be able to ‘tap into’ external funding mechanisms.
3.143 This framework should also focus on the activities that rely on the Parades, such as bird watching, wildlife and historical interpretation, dog walking and sand yachting, ensuring that there are facilities and focal points that deliver activity along the full parade frontage.
Granted, no mention of a cinema here, but it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see it fitting in rather well. And it is clear that the masterplan identified North Parade as having huge potential.
What has been done in the intervening years?
The new lifeboat station has been built… and now has a shiny new lifeboat… and Hoylake Lifeboat Museum did indeed achieve its dream of being sited in the Old Lifeboat Station. But, realistically, we think it needs something much more ambitious, and commercially backed, to kickstart the much needed regeneration of North Parade.
Yes, absolutely ensure those heritage assets are protected, enhanced, and remain central to whatever new is done, but the driver needs to be entertainment and leisure if it is to have sufficient appeal. Critical mass will not come through heritage attractions alone.
It’s nothing new…
As far back as 1911, The ‘Pavilion’ Theatre was accessed from the old lighthouse which formed part of the foyer:
After that, the Winter Gardens and then Cannon Cinema stood behind the Lifeboat Station:
Seafront entertainment and Hoylake Lifeboat sat well together here long before most of us were born.
Imagine, watching a film, and sitting on the restaurant balcony afterwards on a balmy summer evening, watching the sun set… or keeping warm indoors mid winter enjoying the uninterrupted panoramic view of a mighty storm approaching from the horizon…