Cinematopia: UK picture palaces


* Odeon Cinemas

The Odeon York opened on 1st February 1937 with a single screen seating 1,484. It was tripled in 1972, more sensitively than Odeon often managed but in the ususal Odeon pattern, with one large screen in an extended circle and two much smaller screens below.

A landmark building of quite staggering beauty both inside and out, it's a sad fact that the very thing that makes the Odeon York extremely special is also the reason that the cinema was closed down on 31st August 2006. In order to keep the cinema viable in the twenty-first century, Odeon had wanted to sub-divide the Art Deco interior, potentially destroying many of the original features (albeit many that have been covered over by false ceilings since earlier subdivision in the 1970s). They also wanted to rebrand the cinema to the modern Odeon logotypes. The building currently bears two Odeon logos: above the door is the last remaining original Odeon logo, as used back in Oscar Deutsch's day right through to the 1990s. Atop the front facade is an Odeon logo in a different typeface again: not an official logo, perhaps, but enabling the name of the building to be seen from a greater distance. (Vintage photos often show the word "Cinema" atop the Odeon facade or tower in a similar typeface. Note from the Cavalcade photographs that the tower at York - a quintessential Odeon architectural feature - also used to include Odeon logos on each side aspect.)

The local council refused Odeon permission to carry out these alterations to this historic Grade II listed building. Whilst this is the "correct" response from a cinema purist's point of view, it did render the cinema unviable in the present commercial climate and consequently Odeon closed the building down.

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1949 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
Odeon York - 1949 (Odeon Cavalcade) Odeon York - 1949 (Odeon Cavalcade)

1954 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
Odeon York - 1954 (Odeon Cavalcade)

Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006 Odeon York - 2006

* 2006 photographs were shot on behalf of Cinematopia by Jane and Stuart Bass. With grateful thanks.

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This page last updated 24th November 2006.