Odeon Balham

12 Balham Hill Road,
London, SW12 9EA

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Odeon Balham

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located at the northern end of Balham Hill Road (closer to Clapham) in southwest London. The Odeon Balham was my first cinema as a child, albeit it shut down when I was 8 years old, so I ‘had’ to go to the then one-screen Streatham Odeon (Astoria Theatre), or the one screen ABC Streatham (the former Regal Cinema).

Opened with great publicity, especially promoting the wonderously modern projection, sound, comfort and air conditioning as part of the wonders of modern architecture and technology, and showing a cartoon in colour, as well as the newsreel, the Odeon opened with “Blondes for Danger” on 16th April 1938. It was built for and operated by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd.

It was well placed as a ‘super cinema’, having no competition in Balham apart from the Gaumont Clapham, the nearest ‘super competion’ would be comfortably further away to the Granada Tooting, or the Granada Clapham Junction.

Being on a (smallish) hill, Balham Hill, the tower was visible for quite a way, with the Odeon sign illuminated on either side.

The foyer, and cafe was lavish, with a large amount of daylight spilling in to the circle foyer.

It survived as a first-run cinema until the early-1970’s, before closing with “Shaft’s Big Score” and “No Blade of Grass” on 9th September 1972.

Balham having a large Asian population helped the cinema re-open as the Liberty Cinema on 13th December 1974, albeit later, on a bit of a ‘shoestring’ budget. The Liberty Cinema closed it’s doors in 1979.

Local schoolkids had ‘fun’ breaking many windows with stones and breaking in and wreaking havoc with fire extinguishers…

The auditorium was demolished round about May 1985, and the Majestic Wine Warehouse took over the front and foyer of this cinema.

Later, flats were built on the auditorium site, and then in the upstairs circle foyer, hence the name ‘Foyer Apartments’.

The frontage, thankfully… survives. I did hear a story from one of the ex-chiefs, that when first taken over (as a cinema), rather than changing the whole signage, from Odeon to something completely different, a G was added to the Odeon, making it…temporarily a GODEON…a complaint was made. Later the Liberty signage was added.

Contributed by Kev Phelan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 10, 2005 at 4:06 am

In October 1940, the Odeon Balham was hit by a bomb which destroyed the entire right side of the front of the building. Luckily the auditorium was undamaged and after a clear up, the cinema opened for business as normal. Looking at a photo of the Odeon taken at the time, I would say that if it were to happen today, the cinema would never be allowed to open in the state it was in.

The destroyed right hand side of the front of the Odeon was re-built to its original design when the war was over and can still be seen today as the facade to residential use that has now been built on the site of the auditorium.

kevinp
kevinp on August 16, 2005 at 12:31 pm

www.mawgrim.co.uk

go to Odeon Cavalcade and select B for Balham, et voila

best

kev p

kevinp
kevinp on July 1, 2007 at 2:02 am

Some more photo’s here from the 1930’s

View link

enjoy

woody
woody on September 19, 2007 at 2:23 am

Here is a set of photos i took last weekend, the frontage still looks great apart from as usual with london cinemas, someone has planted a tree in front to hide it.
Little remains of the lobby just the front doors and some sexy curved plasterwork above them, but nothing else from what i could see
Click on the thumnails to open them to a larger size
View link

kevinp
kevinp on September 6, 2008 at 5:05 am

herewith some excellent ( and sad :>( ) pictures from a very talented and passionate cinema historian , who has spent ages scanning thousands of pictures in to share with us all ! Many thanks M.B !

View link

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater