Cinematopia: UK picture palaces


Kensington, Majestic

* Odeon Cinemas

The Odeon Kensington started out life in 1926 as The Kensington and then renamed the Majestic in 1940 (in case German parachutists dropped in and used it to identify where they were) Its then-revolutionary architecture - a smart, portal-like opening, designed by Julian Randolph Leathart and W.F. Granger (the first of their four cinemas for Joseph Mears' small London circuit) was a deliberate attempt to move away from the fairground origins of cinema and give cinemagoing a new respectability. However, the austere building lacked the exuberance of mid-thirties cinema designs and (deliberately) left no room for film publicity.

The Rank circuit took over the Majestic in 1944 and re-opened it as an Odeon. It was tripled in 1976 and later sub-divided still further.

Cinematopia essential resource Cinema Treasures.
Cinematopia essential resource Cinemas In Britain by Richard Gray (ISBN 0-85331-685-6).

Appearing in the press every now and again for no better reason than being Michael Winner's local - he has an arrangement with the management where he donates money to charity each year and in return receives free pick 'n' mix whenever he visits - the Odeon Kensington is repeatedly threatened with closure. Described by Winner as "a wonderful piece of cinema architecture", the cinema's original Art Deco interior unfortunately (probably) does not remain intact, which prevents English Heritage from listing the building for preservation. The Cinema Theatre Association suggests that some original features may be hidden away behind false walls and ceilings (see photograph below).

* London Evening Standard (and London Metro) via Find Articles.

1987 (© Mawgrim's Worlds):
Odeon Kensington - 1987 (Mawgrim's Worlds)

1987 (© Cinema Theatre Association):
Odeon Kensington - 1987 (Cinema Theatre Association)

1989 (© "Stagedoor" (Flickr user)). Note the photograph above the suspended ceiling apparently showing the original Deco barrel-vaulted roof intact:
Odeon Kensington - 1989 (Stagedoor / Flickr) Odeon Kensington - 1989 (Stagedoor / Flickr) Odeon Kensington - 1989 (Stagedoor / Flickr) Odeon Kensington - 1989 (Stagedoor / Flickr)

Odeon Kensington - 2006 Odeon Kensington - 2006 Odeon Kensington - 2006 Odeon Kensington - 2006 Odeon Kensington - 2006

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This page last updated 24th November 2006.