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 out the Odeon name on each front corner of the main frontage. On both the left and right sides of the projecting frontage, are large un-tiled areas for film advertising. At the top of the frontage three bands of neon lighting extended horizontally across the building. On the pavement, in front of the cinema, raised brick flower beds add character and visual appeal.
Inside the auditorium features a stepped, wide, barrel-vaulted ceiling. Stylised ventilation grills are recessed into the auditorium side walls. Seating was provided for 1,876 patrons, with 642 seats in the balcony and 1,234 in the stalls. Unlike many Odeon cinemas the Odeon Dudley was not sub-divided into smaller cinemas (a process called 'twinning' (balcony and stalls sub-divided into two) and 'tripling' (balcony sub-divided from stalls and stalls divided into two)).
The cinema closed on 22 February 1975. Instead residents of Dudley could use the Plaza Cinema, a few hundred yards downhill on the opposite side of Castle Hill. In 1976 the cinema was purchased to be used as a religious assembly hall, which it remains to this today. When so many buildings of this age suffer from lack of upkeep, externally, the former Odeon Dudley appears excellent. The building was awarded Grade-II status on 5 October 2000.
Posted by Richard Coltman on Sunday, June 1, 2008