1930s Cinemas

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The age of the 'Odeon'!

22nd July, 1935 - Odeon at Kingstanding, Birmingham opens

Alternative view of Odeon at Kingstanding

Odeon at Kingstanding Birmingham

Images of the Odeon likely on its opening night in 1935 - courtesy & © of Cinema Treasures

Located in Kingstanding, a district near Sutton Coldfield to the north of Birmingham, the Odeon stands on a prominent site at the intersection of several roads. Originally this was planned to be an independent cinema, to be known as the Beacon Cinema. Oscar Deutsch got involved during its construction and it opened as one of his original Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain. The Odeon opened on 22nd July 1935 with Gary Cooper in "Lives of a Bengal Lancer". The exterior of the building is considered to be a quintessential Art Deco ‘Odeon’ style. There are rounded corners a central bay which is covered with cream faiance tiles and a slender vertical fin-tower, which originally had letters on top, horizontally spelling out ‘CINEMA’. After viewing the magnificent exterior, the inside of the building is little bit of a let down. Seating was provided in a semi-stadium plan, with the circle having virtually no overhang to the stalls. There were 968 seats in the stalls and 324 in the circle. The ceiling had square Art Deco style light fittings, but was otherwise plain, as were the side-walls apart from a few decorative grilles.

Auditorium of the Odeon Kingstanding

Projected entrance hall of the Odeon Lingstanding

Auditorium and projected entrance hall in the accepted style of the generic Odeon 'label' images sourced from Cinema Treasures

The Odeon closed on 1st December 1962 with the 1955 film; Audie Murphy in "To Hell and Back". It was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club, which today is a Mecca Bingo Club. The Odeon is a Grade II Listed building. Source : Cinema Treasures

20th May, 1936 - 'Odeon' Well Hall, Eltham opens

Well Hall Odeon 1936

The Odeon cinema on Well Hall Road. The cinema opened in 1936 to the designs of Andrew Mather, a specialist in cinema architecture

Lobby of Odeon at Well Hall 1936

The entrance foyer (1936)

Images courtesy & © of Viewfinder.historicengland from the John Maltby* collection
*Odeon cinema collection. John Maltby (1910-80) was a professional photographer. In 1935 he was commissioned to photograph every cinema in the Odeon chain.

Odeon opening Well Hall, Eltham souvenir programme

Those were the days when you got a souvenir programme when you attended a grand opening of a cinema.

9th September, 1936 - 'Odeon' Muswell Hill opens

Odeon, Muswell Hill 1936 under constructionOdeon, Muswell Hill 1936 completed

The 'Odeon' Muswell Hill under construction (left - image courtesy of Bowes & Bounds via modernism in metroland) and completed (right - image courtesy of Modern Tourists)

Exterior of Odeon Muswell Hill 1936Grand Opening Odeon Muswell Hill

A view of the front of the cinema and a window display with photographs of the stars appearing at the opening ceremony of the cinema on September 9th 1936 - images courtesy & © of Viewfinder.historicengland

Then and now images of the Odeon Muswell Hill

'Then and Now' image of the via Odeon Cinema, Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, London taken in 1936 and today (Picture: englishheritagearchives.org.uk/google) courtesy of Metro.co.uk

Muswell Hill Odeon (1936) by George Coles. Grade II* listed cinema by renowned Odeon chain architect George Coles. Due to the complaints of residents, Coles toned down the designs for the original exterior appearance, and increased the lavish interior to accommodate.

From Historic England (I couldn't let the reference to 'Things to Come' pass by) - Cinema. 1935-6 by George Coles for the Muswell Hill and Harlesden Property Company, of which Oscar Deutsch of Odeon Cinemas was a director. Red brick, the cinema facade clad in black and cream faience tiles. Flat asphalted roof. The cinema is tucked on to Fortis Green Road because the prominent corner site originally intended was opposed by members of the church opposite. Cinema with double-height foyer and circular inner foyers on 2 levels leads to double-height cinema auditorium with balcony set to the rear of the flats. The area under the balcony subdivided into smaller screens in 1974. The curve of the foyer and circular inner foyer discreetly turn the customer through some ninety degrees into the auditorium. Because of the church's opposition, the facade of the cinema was deliberately made relatively low-key. Curved centrepiece with vertical fins, stepped up to centre, between blind projecting end bays clad in contrasting black faience. No fenestration, just 5 pairs of original double doors with margin-light glazing to one side and central transom. The outmost pairs separated by walls for billboards and projecting curved rib. The name ODEON in neon affixed to the parapet. Double-height foyer with curved ends, having paired columns at either side with banded decoration reminiscent of the film set of 'Things to Come' made in 1935. Banded motif to walls. Staircase to right incorporating further horizontal detailing. Coved ceiling lighting. At top of staircase circular landing with similar coved circular ceiling opening and central circular lighting. On ground floor vestibule leads to inner vestibule formed of former rear stalls area leading to 2 smaller cinemas inserted under the balcony in May 1974. At first floor original double doors lead to inner vestibule originally intended as a tearoom and now a bar, with 2 large columns and sloping ceiling, with horizontal grillework on wall to auditorium. From the centre of this wall, doors and stairs lead to auditorium. Double-height auditorium with balcony, whose curved front complements the steep curve of the front wall to the proscenium, which has moulded horizontal and vertical bands. Horizontal banding on ante-proscenium contrasts with 3 stepped rounded pilasters, concealing coved lighting. The side walls also moulded with horizontal bands and vertical accents, the whole styled on the lines of German cinemas of the late 1920s.

The foyer and pay box Odeon Muswell HillThe pay box Odeon Muswell Hill

l to r - The foyer and pay box / Pay box (1936)

The confectionary stand Odeon Muswell Hill A view from the staircase Odeon Muswell Hill

l to r - The confectionary stall and a view from the staircase (1936)

The orchestra rail Odeon Muswell Hill

The Orchestra Rail

The Circle Foyer Odeon Muswell Hill

The Circle Foyer

Images of the interior courtesy & © of Viewfinder.historicengland from the John Maltby* collection
*Odeon cinema collection. John Maltby (1910-80) was a professional photographer. In 1935 he was commissioned to photograph every cinema in the Odeon chain.

Central laylight between ribs of separate small lights designed to resemble a roll of film running down to the proscenium. Banded decoration to side of ceiling, forming deep cornice. Odeon clocks over exit doors to either side of proscenium, and orchestra pit in front area of stalls no longer used. Bronzed handrails round central vomitory, and metal crush barriers remain in stepped seated balcony. The Odeon, Muswell Hill, is the most elaborate interior of any Odeon cinema to survive. Because of the restrictions placed on the external facade, the opportunity was taken to make the interior more lavish than was usual in the Odeon circuit, and the result is an elegant design of unusual imagination and crispness. With the New Victoria, City of Westminster, the Odeon Muswell Hill best demonstrates the influence of German expressionism in British cinema design. As all the most famous German models have been gutted or demolished, the English examples are particularly important. The style was adopted in Britain as a more sophisticated alternative to the historicist pastiches employed in cinemas of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and one more suited to the middle-class clientele of Muswell Hill. The style of the cinema, with its contrasting faience motifs, is continued in the adjoining shops and flats. (Sources: Atwell D: Cathedral of the Movies: 1979; 150-: Gray R: Cinemas in Britain: 1996, P9) - Source : Historic England Read more : Cinema Treasures | Local History

2nd November 1936, The Byron Cinema in Hucknall

Not an Odeon Cinema as it was privately commissioned, but the plans for the design would not have shamed any Oscar Deutsch original! Whether funding ran out or for whatever reason, the tiled finish signature so beloved by the streamline moderne style did not make it to cover and protect the brickwork. For full details and history of the Byron read more here

NEP Front Page Byron Preview

Architect, Alfred Thraves held true to the spectacular illustration which graced the front of the Souvenir Programme but only an aeriel shot of the cinema reveals its astonishing and striking presence in the town.

Front of the Souvenir Programme

The architects vision of the Byron Super Cinema

Fragment from the aeriel view

Byron  as seen from the air

The Byron, in full splendour, situated on the corner of the High Street at about the time of its opening

Cinemas celebrating their 80th Anniversary in 2016

Cinemas celebrating 80th anniversaries in 2016

Image courtesy & © of Cinema Treasures.org

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