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 design save a few alterations.
At some point in the cinema's history the central fin was reduced in height loosing the "CINEMA" signage in the process, however externally she remains remarkably intact. Although no longer part of the Odeon chain the cinema continues to be used by the local Empire Cinema chain. The building was awarded Grade-II listed status in November 1998.
Posted by Richard Coltman on Sunday, June 1, 2008