This website contains profiles of Modernist buildings in Britain. Each profile contains a description and history of the building, photographs and a location information. The following list of sites are Modernist buildings are "Cinema". Click the building name or the "read more" link to view the building profile.
440 Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, Middlesex, HA2 9TL
Standing on Alexandra Avenue in Harrow, Middlesex, the former Grosvenor Cinema was built in 1936 for the Grosvenor cinema company. The cinema was designed by Frank Ernest Bromige LRIBA (1902-1979). Bromige was a London-based architect practising, at the time, out of Kingly Street in Westminster. His works in London include the former Kingsland Empire in Dalston, the Dominion Acton (later the Acton Granada, now a bingo hall) and the Dominion Hounslow.
The cinema was built by the local firm of T F Nash Ltd. With the extension of the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines of the London Underground network, there was a rapid expansion of suburban London. Housebuilding proliferated and Nash built a great number of homes on three 'estates' in the South Harrow, Rayner's Lane and Eastcote areas of outer-north west London. The cinema opened to the public on 12 October 1936.
The front elevation of the building is very dramatic. At the left corner, three sets of double doors provide an entrance to the foyer. These are set beneath a stepped, curved canopy. Above, the facade is formed of three curved, white-rendered bays: a central, convex-curved bay and two shorter outside ogive-curved bays. The two outside bays have full height metal-framed windows following the same ogive-curve. Within the central bay the curve of the windows is reversed, in a bold, concave curve.
The void created between the curves is filled by a stylised concrete form, likened to an elephant's head and trunk. From the roof parapet of the central bay a feature... Read more »
Penel Orlieu, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 3PH
The former Odeon cinema on Penel Orlieu in Bridgwater, Somerset was designed by British architect Thomas Cecil Howitt (1889 - 1968). Howitt designed a number of cinemas - at Bridgwater, Clacton, Warley,and Weston-super-Mare - for the Odeon chain. Howitt had previously worked in Nottingham city engineer's department and later in private practice in the same city.
His design at Bridgwater aped that at nearby Weston-super-Mare, although the Odeon Bridgwater was a some-what simpler design than that seen at Weston-super-Mare. All four of Howitt's Odeons featured a square tower with a projecting flat slab roof supported by squat, cylindrical columns - the cinema at Bridgwater was the fourth of Howitt's cinema to use the slab tower. The corners or the tower are chamfered, as at Warley and Clacton - only Weston-super-Mare had 'sharp' corners to the tower. The east elevation of the slab tower has two slender full height, slit windows. A curved canopy projects outwards from the slab tower, above three sets of double doors providing access to the street via steps into the foyer.
To the left on Penel Orlieu (when looking towards the building) is the main wing of the building, in front of the auditorium. This comprises five bays and originally housing shops at ground floor level - with a canopy above - and flats on the first and second storeys. The windows on the first and second storeys are Crittall-style metal framed windows, the second and fourth bays feature shutters on the first storey and ornate, metal window... Read more »
22 Castle Hill, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4QQ
The Odeon Cinema Dudley was built on a plot opposite Dudley Castle and opened on 28 July 1937. The cinema stands on Castle Hill, which rises from Birmingham Road to Dudley Town Centre. The cinema was designed by Harry Weedon and Budge Reid of the Weedon Partnership in the Odeon house style. The general outline of the design is similar to many Odeon cinemas, including Swiss Cottage in London, Bolton in Greater Manchester, and Loughborough in Leicestershire. The symmetrical design of the cinema is in a single, brick-faced block outside a steel, inner frame. Both corners of the front elevation feature gently curved corners, the corners distinguished by horizontal channels forming bands of brick that rise the full height of the building.
Projecting from the main block is a lower frontage with subtly curved corners. The frontage is clad in cream faience tiles. The faience tiles are grouped with two vertically aligned rectangular tiles forming a square, separated by prominent horizontal and vertical pointing between the faience tiles. At ground floor level the base is clad in black tiles, and above with the same cream faience broken by prominent horizontal green faience bands.
The front elevation has five deeply recessed window openings, surmounted by a moulded canopy. Below the windows is a cantilevered canopy beneath which are five doors in recesses mirroring the window recesses above the canopy. Above the window canopy, the five letters of the Odeon name are aligned with the recesses for the windows. Smaller letters, aligned vertically, spell... Read more »
East Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5LB
Standing on the corner of East Parade and Station Avenue in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate is arguably one of Britain's finest Modernist cinema buildings. Today, the building survives as part of the Odeon cinema chain after eight decades of continuous use as a working cinema.
The Odeon company traces its history back to 1930 when the firm established by Oscar Deutsch (1893-1941) opened its first cinema bearing the Odeon name, at Perry Barr in Birmingham, on 4 August 1930. The company saw its greatest period of expansion during the 1930s, as the increasing popularity of cinema-going allowed Deutsch to open in excess of 250 cinemas prior to the Second World War.
Like the majority of Odeon's cinemas, the Odeon Harrogate was built in the Streamlined Moderne style and was a product of the Weedon Partnership. Harry Weedon (1887-1970) became involved with the Odeon chain in 1934 and his company produced designs for some of the finest buildings of the period.
Although the majority of pre-war Odeon cinemas are in the Streamlined Moderne style, it is curious that Odeon didn't opt for a standardised design of cinema. Today, out-of-town superstores, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants tend to adopt 'identi-kit' designs, with apparent cost-savings in design, construction and operation. However, with very few exceptions, each Odeon cinema was different from the next. Certain design elements and overall schemes were re-used, but each cinema was unique. Many cinemas were designed to fit the plot land they were built upon, or the population they were... Read more »
Kettlehouse Road, Birmingham, West Midlands, B44 9JD
Located at the convergence of six roads in Kingstanding in Birmingham, the Odeon cinema stands out as a dramatic building as it is the tallest building within the locality. As the cinema is surrounded on both sides by roads it dominates the environment. Designed by Harry Weedon and Cecil Clavering and built between 1935 and 1936, the cinema is one of the best surviving Odeon cinemas in Britain and represents one of the finest works of the Weedon Partnership. This area is particularly fortunate to have two of the most significant surviving Odeon Cinemas in the country; within a few miles of Kingstanding stands the Odeon Sutton Coldfield.
Unlike many other Odeon cinemas the Kingstanding cinema employs a symmetrical design. A central section of three slender faience (glazed tiles) fins rise behind the curved, cantilevered entrance canopy with large "Odeon" lettering. The top of the outermost fins features "CINEMA" lettering. Projecting from the main body of the building is the main frontage again featuring faience; the corners are gently, elegantly curved.
The main body of the building is of brown brick, the front corners are again subtly curved. The frontage features prominent horizontal banding which flow across the curved canopy from one side of the building to the other. The roof-line of the main body of the building, of brown brick, rises in steps to abut the central fins.
The cinema was closed on 1st December 1962 and converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club. Today the building still serves as a bingo... Read more »
Rutland Street, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE1 1SA
The former Odeon cinema in Leicester is a striking building, designed by Harry Weedon and Robert Bullivant from Odeon's favoured architectural practice. The cinema stands on a corner site at the junction of Rutland Street and Queen Street in Leicester. The cinema housed a single screen and seating for nearly 2,200 customers. It opened on 28 July 1938 and remained part of the Odeon cinema chain for 59 years.
As with many corner-site Odeon cinemas the Weedon Partnership used a entrance beneath a curved canopy and frontage. At Leicester, five double doors are accessed up by three steps from street level. To either side of the entrance and canopy are two curved brick wings, carrying the internal staircases providing access to the auditorium balcony. Above the canopy the curved corner of the building is bisected by four projecting piers, each terminating in a curve at top. The piers divide five tall window bays providing light into the building. Architectural detailing is provided above the windows by slender, projecting vertical ribs, curved to the top and bottom.
The top of the staircase wings and 'entrance' corner to the building has vertical brick banding, providing relief to the brickwork of the facade. Above that, the 'Odeon' name is carried in large letters across the curved corner, placed over horizontal channels 'cut' into the brickwork. The frontage was 'decorated' with neon lighting, fitted so as to harmonise with the architectural features of the exterior.
The lower third of the west side wall is a combination of... Read more »
Baxter Gate, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1TG
The former Odeon Cinema, located on Baxtergate in Loughborough, is a fine, surviving building from the Odeon Cinema chain. Modernist architecture was almost exclusively used by Deutsch. The chain, started by Oscar Deutsch with its first cinema in Perry Barr in Birmingham owned in excess of 250 cinemas prior to the Second World War.
Like many of the early Odeon cinemas the Odeon Newport was designed by the Weedon Partnership, with Arthur J Price assisting Harry Weedon in the execution of the design. Overall, the design features were used on a number of cinemas designed by Weedon. The Tower West Bromwich, built earlier in 1936, was the first (albeit for a independent chain unconnected with Odeon). Essentially a block-shape, the building featured streamlined, chamfered corners on the main elevation. The lower storey was in black faience, giving way to biscuit-coloured faience above. A canopy projected above the main entrance with wide windows set above. The cinema name was carried in large lettering above the windows. The faience at the top of the main elevation was broken with three bands of green faience.
Weedon and Price re-worked the Tower West Bromwich design at Loughborough. The black base of the building was broken with slender horizontal bands of green faience. Above, the canopy was more streamlined. Above that the windows were more deeply recessed below a projecting lip canopy. The window section curved back inside the main building with slender, faience-clad piers projecting between the windows supporting the lip canopy above the windows. As... Read more »
Thornton Road/Euston Road, Morecambe, Lancashire, LA4 5LE
The Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe is noted for one of Britain's best Modernist buildings, the Midland Hotel. Within the town, however, is another important Modernist building. However, it is one that is somewhat forgotten, partly because of its more glamorous compatriot, but also because its state of repair is poor with the building seemingly unloved and overlooked. The building is the former Odeon Cinema, located on the corner of Thornton Road and Euston Road.
The Odeon company can trace its origins back to 1930 when the firm formed by Oscar Deutsch (1893-1941) opened its first cinema bearing the Odeon name, at Perry Barr in the West Midlands, on 4 August 1930. The company saw its greatest period of expansion during the 1930s, as the increasing popularity of cinema-going allowed Deutsch to open in excess of 250 cinemas before the outbreak of the Second World War. Amongst those cinemas was the Odeon Morecambe, which opened in 1937.
As with so many other Odeon cinemas, the company employed the Weedon Partnership, led by Harry Weedon (1887-1970) to design the Morecambe cinema. Working with Calder Robson, with whom Weedon had also designed the Odeon Harrogate, the partnership produced a building in the Streamlined Moderne for Morecambe. The building employs many of the signature architectural elements that have come to characterise buildings of the Odeon cinema chain.
Many of Odeon's cinemas occupy corner plots in Britain's towns and cities, including the Odeon Morecambe. However, the Odeon Morecambe is located away from the town's centre, a factor... Read more »
Clarence Place, Newport, Gwent, NP19 7AB
The former Odeon Cinema, located on Clarence Place in Newport, Gwent, is a remarkable, surviving building from the Odeon Cinema chain. The chain, started by Oscar Deutsch with its first cinema in Perry Barr in Birmingham owned in excess of 250 cinemas prior to the Second World War. Modernist architecture was almost exclusively used by Deutsch; only local planning constraints in particularly sensitive locations - such as historic Chester and York - restricted the design ambitions of Deutsch's architects.
Like many of the early Odeon cinemas the Odeon Newport was designed by the Weedon Partnership, with Arthur J Price assisting Harry Weedon in the execution of the design. Overall, the design bears a striking similarity to that of the Odeon at Sutton Coldfield, by Harry Weedon and Cecil Clavering. Again the design of the cinema was dominated by a central 'fin', although the 'Cinema' lettering at the top of the fin found at Sutton Coldfield was substituted with the Odeon name; perhaps the brand was considered sufficiently established enough that the name would speak for itself. In a departure from Sutton Coldfield, the fin featured projecting brick piers with horizontal, projecting brick bands.
To the left of the fin was a four-storey block with a tiled, faience frontage for the lower three storeys. The faience was placed in a 'basket-weave' style, providing some relief to the expanse of faience. Adjacent to the brick fin the windows feature a surround of black tiles, providing a horizontal emphasis to the frontage. To the left... Read more »
Westborough, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1JW
Standing on the corner of Westborough, at the junction between Northway and Filey Road, stands Scarborough's former Odeon Cinema. The building stands away from the main centre of the North Yorkshire seaside town, located opposite the train station. This impressive building was constructed in the 1930s for the Odeon Cinema chain as part of its rapidly expanding nationwide network of cinemas.
The company, founded by Oscar Deutsch (1893-1941), opened its first cinema bearing the Odeon name at Perry Barr in Birmingham on 4 August 1930. The increasing popularity of cinema-going amongst the British public allowed the Odeon chain to grow, so much so that by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the company owned around 250 cinemas across the country.
The company almost exclusively built its cinema in an Art Deco style. Many were products of the Weedon Partnership. Harry Weedon (1887-1970) became involved with the Odeon chain in 1934 when he was commissioned to come up with alternative plans for the interior of the Warley cinema, then under construction in West Warley, Warwickshire. Weedon himself employed John Cecil Clavering (1910-2001) to execute the designs for the Warley Cinema.
The work of Weedon and Clavering appealed to Oscar Deutsch and the Weedon Partnership would go on to design many of the chain's finest cinemas including those at Kingstanding, Sutton Coldfield, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Newport (Gwent) and Scarborough. The Odeon Scarborough opened on 28 March 1936, incorporating a first floor cafe and ground floor shops.
The design for the Odeon Scarborough... Read more »
Maney Corner, Birmingham Road, Sutton Coldfield, B72 1QL
One company more than any other in Britain brought Modernist architecture to the attention of towns and cities across the country. The Odeon cinema chain owned in excess of 250 cinemas prior to the Second World War. Oscar Deutsch had commissioned the firm of Weedon Partnership to design a cinema in Perry Barr, Birmingham. The style of that cinema was so well received by Deutsch that this became the in-house style for the three hundred cinemas designed by the Weedon Partnership.
The cinema in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham in the West Midlands was built in 1935 - 1936 to plans by Harry Weedon and Cecil Clavering. The design of the cinema was dominated by a central "fin" with large "CINEMA" lettering at the top. To the west was a two-storey block with tiled frontage, housing the double-height foyer. To the other side of the fin was the main entrance, above which the corner of the building curved elegantly to bisect the eastern projecting wing of the cinema, itself elegantly curved.
The geometric style Odeon lettering featured prominently on the left and right hand frontages. Much of the frontage was covered in cream tiles, broken by horizontal bands of green tiles, the rest of the building was faced with brown brick. The horizontal banding was replicated on some of the brickwork producing a "ribbed" effect, on the fin and also the lower storey of the eastern-most part of the building. The Odeon Cinema in Harrogate is a virtual copy of the Sutton Coldfield... Read more »
Walliscote Road, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, BS23 1UW
The Odeon cinema in Weston-super-Mare stands on the corner of Walliscote Road and Regent Street, a quarter of a mile from the sea front of the North Somerset town. The building is an imposing structure and arguably one of the finest buildings constructed for the Odeon cinema chain.
The building was designed by British architect Thomas Cecil Howitt (1889 - 1968). Howitt is responsible for a number of significant twentieth century buildings in Nottingham, where he worked in the city engineer's department and later in private practice. Howitt also went on to design a number of cinemas for the Odeon chain.
His designs for cinemas at Warley, Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater and Clacton were all based around a dominant design theme, a square tower with a projecting flat slab roof supported by squat, cylindrical columns. At Weston-super-Mare the tower is positioned at the corner of the site, above and behind the foyer. A curved canopy projects outwards from the slab tower, above five sets of double doors providing access to the street via steps into the foyer. Howitt used a second smaller tower to the left of the slab tower (when looking towards the building from Regent Street), with a large double-height metal framed window.
The two 'wings' (enclosing the auditorium behind) either side of the towers on Regent Street and Walliscote Road are both three storeys high, with shop units at ground floor level and offices and rooms above. The Regent Street elevation comprises three bays with Crittall-style metal framed windows. The windows in... Read more »
Skinner Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 4LD
The former Odeon Cinema stands on Skinner Street in the centre of Wolverhampton. The Mayor Of Wolverhampton, Sir Charles Mander, officially opened the cinema on 11 September 1937. The cinema was designed by Harry Weedon and P.J. Price. The design was distinguished by a main tower. Set on the left hand side of the building the tall, slender tower features two projecting vertical 'ribs' clad in black faience. The front of the tower itself is clad in buff faience while the sides are characterised with projecting vermilion red horizontal 'ribs'. The 'ribs' terminate just short of the full height of the tower to allow the 'Odeon' name to be displayed prominently.
At ground floor level the main entrance sits beneath a projecting canopy which terminates to the left in a 180 degree curve, and to the right in an elaborate 'scroll'. The entrance is clad in black faience with slender horizontal bands of green faience. Advertising boards are located either side of the main entrance. Above the canopy, the facade is clad in three vertical bands of buff faience separate by projecting brick piers. The central band is double the width of the outside bands and is broken mid-height by two slot windows. The uppermost section of faience is broken by further vermilion red horizontal 'ribs'.
To the right the auditorium is stepped down in height. Its facade features five tall, double height windows, surrounded by black faience - broken with further horizontal bands of green faience - set into a projecting... Read more »
3 Blossom Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO24 1AJ
Standing on Blossom Street in York is the former Odeon Cinema, now operated by the Reel Cinema chain as part of its nationwide chain of fifteen cinemas. The building stands away from the main centre of the North Yorkshire city as, in the 1930s, it was only possible to obtain planning permission to build a cinema outside the walls of historic York. Additional constraints on the design of the cinema meant that Odeon's usual house style had to be toned down.
The Odeon cinema chain was founded by Oscar Deutsch (1893-1941). The company opened its first cinema bearing the Odeon name at Perry Barr in Birmingham on 4 August 1930. The increasing popularity of cinema-going amongst the British public allowed the Odeon chain to grow, so much so that by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the company owned around 250 cinemas across the country.
The company almost exclusively built its cinema in an Art Deco style, and although no two cinemas were identical (Harrogate and Sutton Coldfield came very close), the company's house style was bold and innovative. Weedon's designs incorporated soaring towers and fins; dynamic, curved canopies; facades clad in black and buff-coloured faience pierced with horizontal bands of coloured faience; curved and semi-circular wings; and extensive use of neon lighting.
The Odeon at nearby Harrogate is strikingly dissimilar to the Odeon York. Whereas at Harrogate the cinema has a tall tower with a faience-clad facade and curved canopy, the design at York was executed solely in brown... Read more »
8 King Street, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE13 1XA
Standing on the corner of King Street and St Mary's Way in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray is the Regal Cinema. The building is an outstanding example of a smaller regional cinema, all the more remarkable for having been built by a local company and operated as an independent cinema, and not part of a much larger chain like Gaumont, Granada Theatres or Odeon. The cinema opened in 1934 and was built by a local company, Denman & Sons.
The design of the Regal Cinema incorporates a two-storey block facing onto King Street, projecting from the cinema's auditorium that can be seen behind and above the street frontage, most notably along St Mary's Way. Whilst the auditorium is clad in red brick, the King Street frontage is clad in faience tiles, in shades of orange and blue, with the base of the frontage clad in light-grey faience. The intricate design of the faience enlivens the frontage and makes it one of the most colourful cinemas in Britain.
The King Street frontage comprises two two-bay, two storey wings either side of a central section. The wings have projecting pilasters at each corner, which were originally clad in faience tiles but have been subsequently covered in render. The inner pilasters are taller; all are topped with square, faience tile-clad capitals. Each of the bays is bordered by a projecting surround of narrow blue-coloured faience tiles. Inside the border, the ground and first-floors are illuminated by tall, narrow windows. The white-painted metal-framed windows... Read more »
Churchfield Lane, Radford, Nottingham, NG7 5GS
Standing on the corner of Churchfield Lane and Newquay Avenue in the Nottingham district of Radford is the former Capitol Cinema. Opened in 1936, the building continued as a working cinema for five decades before it closed and was converted to a bingo hall and social club. Laterly, the building was purchased and serves as the Mount Zion Millennium City Church.
In the inter-war period cinema-going became increasingly popular amongst the British public. Entrepreneurs quickly set up local cinemas to cash in on this popularity. Although cinema the industry in Britain was dominated by large players the business was such an attractive proposition that many independent operators set up with one or a small chain of cinemas to serve a local population or area. The Capitol was one such cinema, designed by Reginald Cooper for the small Invincible Cinemas chain.
The more successful operators, such as Gaumont, Granada Theatres or Odeon, were able to quickly grow their business into a national circuit with a presence in most major towns and cities. Yet it is the smaller regional cinemas, that demonstrate some of the most attractive cinema design; without the budget for promotion and marketing as the large cinema chains, the independent operators relied on their cinema's appearance as much as their marketing to draw in cinema-goers.
The Capitol Cinema occupies a narrow site along Newquay Avenue with a small frontage on Churchfield Lane. It is fairly awkward plot, and the cinema was built such that auditorium was aligned with Newquay... Read more »