Southport’s silver screen saviour passes away

The man credited with bringing a classic cinema experience back to the heart of Southport has sadly passed away.

Michael Lockwood, the friendly faced film buff behind the rise of Bijou Cinema in Southport, has died, OTS News is saddened to report.

A Southport Bijou Cinema spokesperson said: “It is with a very heavy heart and the deepest regret that we are updating you today with the sad news that our founder, creator, mentor and truly loved friend Michael Lockwood has passed away peacefully, due to personal health reasons outside of COVID-19.

“Those of you who met Mike will know he was an incredibly private man, but we got to know him well over the last few years, and his main goal in life was truly to bring his dream and passion, the Southport Bijou Cinema, to life.

“Mike had been running Film Societies and Cine Clubs in various venues for years, but with constant building closures, and companies always moving in and out, he was bandied about and closed down time and time again, and became determined to find a home for his cinema once and for all.

“Our good friend Robert Joy was there at the start, and Mike was so proud his good friend had travelled from his new home in Texas to see the opening of the Bijou.

“Mike was the gentlest of people, with a kind heart, a great sense of humour, and an encyclopaedia of film knowledge within his head. Remembering casts and crews was second nature to him, but Mike particularly excelled in being able to tell you the whereabouts of any single location on screen, and his fascination had drawn him to visit most of them.

“Mike was an avid fan of traversing the UK and all it’s cultural heritage, and driving for a living as a rep for most of his life, successfully managed to visit every museum, historical house, gallery or heritage site. But his film location fascination wasn’t limited to the UK, and Mike spent a great deal of time visiting the USA, and was well versed in the sound stages and locations in sunny Hollywood (though he often said his dreams of becoming an actor were thwarted when he struggled to handle the Californian heat).

“Mike was passionate about film-making, too, and in his younger days, spent a lot of time as an editor, splicing together newsreels and whatever footage he could get his hands on.

“His drive for cinema never faltered, and he was proud of the fact he got to manually project 35mm himself.

“Perhaps most saddening of all is that he still had so many films he’d planned to see, but nevertheless, spent his life watching and living cinema.

“We are so proud we got to spend some years with him doing that together, even if his reaction to a good portion of the films were with strong words.

“We are devastated by this news, but consoled by the fact that Mike left us peacefully, in his sleep.

“His dream was to see the Bijou come to life, and thanks to each and every one of you, he achieved that tenfold, even if COVID did put a relative stop to busy get-togethers.

“This is a photo from him on our opening night, and miraculously, is one of the only photos of him that actually exists. He was humble and private, and as a result, very rarely uttered a word. He could say everything he needed with a nod and a smile, but we know that he was so incredibly proud of what he’d managed to build, and so incredibly humbled that each of you wanted to and enjoyed visiting the Bijou.

“Fittingly, the last film Mike watched was It’s A Wonderful Life, which features a shot of a cinema called The Bijou.

“That was a sold out screening, and when the name came up on screen, the 30 audience members applauded.

“Mike got to see that, and I know it brought a little tear to his eye as the curtains closed at the end of it.

“The Bijou will live on, and we are determined now, more than ever, to create a successful, powerful institution of cinema and arts, to honour the legacy left to us by Mike as best we can.”