Odeon Canning Town

Barking Road and Newhaven Lane,
London, E16 4DU

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Odeon Canning Town

Built and operated by the Oscar Deutsch chain;Odeon Theatres Ltd., the Odeon was located on the main Barking Road, between Star Lane(today Newhaven Lane) and Alexandra Street and was backed by Edward Street, in the east London district of Canning Town.

It opened on 25th May 1939 with Laurence Olivier in “Q Planes”. Architect Andrew Mather was assisted by Keith P. Roberts in designing this large inner city cinema. It had a low outer lobby which led into a higher main foyer that had large windows to allow light into the area and a twin staircase that led to the balcony. The main facade was dominated by a slender square tower which was set back to the left of the front entrance. The auditorium was set at right angles to the entrance and had seating provided for 1,418 in the stalls and 822 in the balcony. Lighting was provided by two rows of glazed hanging lights (instead of the more fashionable concealed cove lighting) and there were decorative panels on the splay walls each side of the proscenium opening.

During a run of the programme “Case of the Frightened Lady” starring Marius Goring and “Alias the Deacon” starring Bob Burns, a bomb damaged the Odeon on 2nd October 1940 causing it to close down. It had been open just 15 months. Repairs were carried out and it re-opened on 3rd March 1941 with The Dead End Kids in “Hell’s Kitchen” and Jack Hulbert in “Jack’s the Boy”. Disaster struck again when it was hit by bombing on 11th May 1941. The Odeon never re-opened and had the shortest life of any of the Odeon Theatres, just operating for a total of 17 months.

The site was finally sold on 15th December 1970 to the East London Housing Association and the bricks and rubble of the Odeon bomb site were cleared away. A block of flats named Odeon Court was built on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

MikeJC on October 24, 2015 at 10:28 am

Apparently, during building, part of the site was found to be unstable and this was overcome by building the Odeon (or at least part of it) on a concrete raft. The bomb which fell on 11th May 1941 penetrated the raft and exploded beneath it, rendering the structure dangerously unstable and beyond economic repair, as rebuilding would have entailed demolition and completely clearing the site before rebuilding could commence – certainly not an option in war-time and obviously not thought worthwhile in peace-time either! A great pity as I thought that Canning Town was one of the best designs on the circuit.

Ambak on June 28, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Google Earth historic imagery from 1945 shows the Odeon Canning Town to be a complete ruin. I doubt that the condition of the raft came into it!

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