Friday, September 14, 2007

"An Ode For An Odeon"

Here is a photograph taken in 1937 outside my city's Odeon Cinema. The manager, Mr Harry Yorke, greets a friend, watched by two dignified doormen. It's a poignant picture. It illustrates a time when visiting the Odeon was an outing, when people treasured such places, as well as enjoying the art of Cinema.

The Odeon was designed in Art Deco style by Robert Bullivant. Within its elegant vastness, it provided films for generations of Cestrians, but sadly, it finally closed its doors this June. It's been bought by a nightclub developer; plans for it include shops and bars as well as night clubs.

BUT my city has countless bars, numerous shops. It's certainly got a surplus of night clubs. It's got plenty of pubs too; in fact, someone once boasted there's one for each day of the year.
AND OH YES, it's got cinemas on its outskirts, but these are ugly places, OK for parking, popcorn and peanuts....

BUT NOW, in the centre of this city, a superb 70 year old building stands empty, condemned to be something it never expected to be...

Our local MP, Christine Russell, has called a meeting at St Mary's Centre, St Mary's Hill, Chester, for Thursday September 27th, at 7:oopm. All are welcome to attend.
A "Save the Odeon" group has been formed. The Rt Hon Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (once Chair of the Select Committee for National Heritage, Culture and Sport) has kindly offered his support.
And also, you can link with to hear Christine Russell on video, to sign a petition and see photograph of the Odeon.

HOPEFULLY, a wonderful asset to our city can be saved.


Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Go for it. It deserves to be saved and used again. My favourite cinema here is a little Art Deco place. Crumbling slighty at the edges, it still has more atmosphere than any of the out of town mega screens.

12:57 am  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Fingers crossed for you. Old cinemas are fabulous and hold so much more than film. Good luck :-)

5:49 am  
Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I do so hope they manage to save it. I have dazzling memories from my childhood of old cinemas with wide balconies, "stars" in the ceiling, filled with dreams and magic - and they're all gone. As if there isn't enough development, we need to preserve our special places.

1:04 pm  
Blogger Cailleach said...

That is a building crying out for a new lease of life - I hope that you all manage to conserve it and put it to a new use.

10:11 pm  
Blogger Jon M said...

I remember as a child going to see 'Waterloo' at that very cinema, one screen, hundreds of seats a massive audience. A real experience! I also saw Motorhead at the ABC in the same town! It's now Brannigans?

11:18 pm  
Blogger I Beatrice said...

But surely the building must be listed, and therefore not able to be demolished?

Our local Odeon became a Bingo Hall - but at least the building itself remained intact. I do hope you manage to prevent this vandalism.

6:44 am  
Blogger Jackie Luben said...

My parents used to take me every week to the films on a Saturday night, even when I was too young to understand what was going on. If there was nothing on locally, we'd go on to the Finsbury Park Astoria, which was a wonderfully decorated cinema, with sculptures around the screen. I would sit and admire it, even then. I don't know what happened to it. The last film I remember seeing there, (under protest, because by then I understood) was 'When World's Collide'. Gave me nightmares at the prospect of the end of the world.

3:39 pm  
Blogger Carole said...

So good to have you back. We've missed you. I used to go to Saturday morning pictures with cartoons and a Western. There was even an organ that came up at the front. There was so much atmosphere in those old buildings.

4:20 pm  
Blogger Isabelle said...

Hello - thanks for visiting my blog. Yours looks worryingly interesting - if there's anything I don't need in my life it's another well-written blog! Too tempting. Right now I must go and help my husband take our bedroom to pieces prior to tomorrow's redecoration - but I'll be back.

Sympathy re the cinema - I'll certainly "sign" the petition if I can work out how to, on line. Meanwhile, bedroom calls...

4:51 pm  
Blogger Anne S said...

It is shameful when old beautiful buildings are torn down and their place occupied by something nowhere near as interesting.

There is an old cinema a few minutes walk from home. It too is a graceful Art Deco building. Fortunately it has a heritage listing and cannot be touched. It is the oldest running picture palace in Melbourne and is still going strong.

If it was threatened there would be quite a fight to save it, I like to think.

2:50 am  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

My most dazzled childhood memory of a theatre is the Fox in Atlanta, with its Islamic and Egyptian architecture and magical ceiling of flickering stars and drifting clouds: It seemed that one was doomed, too, once upon a time. Now they have a full-time restoration department!

3:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cinema in woolton Liverpool was saved when a group of people got together to keep it going. See

So good luck to those fighting for the odeon.


4:32 pm  
Blogger Rebecca said...

so sad when that happens - I hope, for the sake of your city that the cinema can be saved.

10:13 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Yes, I can imagine.
Crumbling at the edges...I like that!

Thanks Liz. Good to hear from you. What are the cinemas like in your exotic part of the world?

THe closure of the Odeon has woken up folk who normally just let "change" happen...bad as well as good.
This, I must admit, includes me.

In York, the Odeon became an Arts Centre.
That would be a wonderful alternative for ours.

Think you're right though Ive lost track of all the clubs....

Im sure the Odeon wont be demolished; it's just the "use" its put to that's scarinng everyone.
There's a great need to have a cinema in the centre of the city, part of the "buzz" of the place..

Just the name " Finsbury AStoria" is great, isn't it?
I wonder who knows what happened to it??

I never actually went to Saturday morning cinema; I envied those who did because they'd chatter about the film and their own antics in the cinema ALL monday at school!!
I, unfortunately, had to go swimming ( The City Baths, where there were 2 pools, the Atlantic and the Pacific) and my brother and I argued constantly re which pool was best.. I think they were both exactly the same...
Sometimes on Saturdys I went ponyriding which I hated...I loved the animals but could never quite get the hang of "trotting" properly...!!

Hope the bedroom sorted and look forward to seeing you again.

Your Melbourne cinema sounds fabulous.
I hope it has a long and fruitful

The folk in Atlanta appreciate the right stuff, dont they?
How brilliant.
THanks for the link, Marly.

Leanne( ANON):
I hadn't heard about this but that's good news.
Thanks too for having another "peep"!
G+L collected D's table etc which is lovely. Much appreciated.
R+K appear to be loving Malaysia. Looking forward to seeing them next week and hearing (some!) of the details.
Hope you're continuing to blossom.

Thanks for your comments REbecca!! Good to hear you.

8:50 am  
Blogger Suffolkmum said...

Good luck. In the last town I lived in, they managed to save and re-open a dazzling art-deco cinema that was crumbling away. It's ahuge successs troy now, showing independent films with a cafe attached.

10:43 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Suffolk Mum:
I wonder which town you're talking about?? You've mentioned your NE connection previously?
Thanks for calling.

5:46 pm  

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