Amongst the wealth of ground-breaking architecture that saw construction across these isles during the 1930s, the cinema must surely be considered to have had the greatest impact. No other type of building could have managed to get away with imposing such outlandish, extravagant and radical exteriors on the average British high street. Whether it was the appeal of the escapism they offered, the allure of the gorgeous charismatic stars projected on the screen, or the fashionable kudos these places bestowed on the locality, they won over both town planners and punters a-like, springing up in their 100s throughout the decade.
Of all the operators, and there were many, ODEON is undoubtedly the chain whose legacy is most enviable. A chain that not only managed to tick all the technical boxes required for a great cinema, but whose founder, Oscar Deutsch, commissioned some of the most unbelievably modern, daring, and unusual structures ever seen in this country.
Between 1930 & 1939, ODEON built 140 brand new cinemas (whilst simultaneously adopting many other existing ones). From the these, 85 have been demolished, and a further 6 only have elements remaining; façade, foyer or adjoining café still present, whilst the rest is lost.
The ‘ODEON Relics’ project aims to capture each surviving venue in it’s current state, to be presented in an exhibition with accompanying book. Below are a selection of images from this ongoing collection, with an estimated completion date of early 2019.
All images © Philip Butler 2018. Please do not reproduce without gaining prior permission.