Cannon Derby

London Road,
Derby, DE1 2PA

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Derby Odeon (ex Gaumont)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Derby’s grandest super cinema, the Gaumont Palace, opened on 17th September 1934 with Jessie Matthews in “Evergreen”. It had taken a year to build using over 500 tons of steel, a million bricks and 5,000 tons of concrete according to the publicity at the time. Built on a difficult sloping site, the scale of the building for Derby was quite monumental, the impact of the building was reduced by a large central recess flanked by the staircase towers either side. A flight of white stone steps led up to the impressive marble floored and walnut paneled foyer.

The auditorium was dominated by the stunning Art Deco style ceiling with its long central recess filled with over 500 light bulbs, the Gaumont publicity department boasted that it was “the most beautifully lit theatre front of its size in the kingdom” and the auditorium was a ‘fairyland of light’.

The auditorium walls were decorated with fine vertical ribs and the proscenium was a stunning gold frame. Equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Rank organ which according to the brochure was “a musical giant of a thousand voices”, it was opened by organist Con Docherty. The Gaumont Palace quickly established itself as Derby’s leading cinema.

As audiences began to dwindle, other Derby cinemas began to close but the Gaumont fought back by staging one-night concerts including Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard, Gene Pitney, the Kinks, Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers, the Rolling Stones and the Who.

When the Rank Organisation closed the nearby Odeon Cinema on St. Peter Street, the Gaumont was renamed Odeon in 1965.

The cinema was tripled in 1974 with a drop wall from the balcony front creating two mini-cinemas in the rear stalls area, each seating 138, leaving 800 seats in the balcony. The front stalls seating was retained but never used.

By the 1980’s, Derby had lost the majority of its cinemas with just the Odeon, the nearby ABC (former Regal Cinema) triple and the single screen Metro arts cinema.

Then in 1983 to public outcry, first the Odeon closed and then it was announced that the ABC was to close for an extension of the Eagle shopping centre.

ABC purchased the Odeon and in a very expensive convertion, split the building horizontally to form a single screen in the circle area seating 559 (this was an amazing auditorium with gold curtained walls and the ceiling restored, as well as huge luxury armchair seats) and the former stalls area was converted for bingo.

Sadly the huge lobby was split into two separate entrances for the cinema on the right and the bingo on the left, losing the walnut panelling.

The cinema was called the ABC Trocadero Entertainment Centre. This left Derby with just one commercial cinema screen which was very frustrating as you had little film choice. The cinema changed its name one final time when it became the Cannon.

Then in 1988, Derby received not one but two ten-screen mutiplex cinemas, the National Amusements Showcase and the AMC on opposite sides of the city.

The Cannon was set to struggle on, then one morning shortly before the cinema opened for the early morning kids club, the ornate plaster ceiling collapsed, wrecking the auditorium. The final film to play was Sean Penn in “Willow” on 17th December 1988.

The cinema never reopened and lay empty for many years, eventually the bingo moved out too, leaving only a dance school operating in the former cafe.

Then in around 2000 the auditorium was gutted and whole building was converted into a nightclub and banquet centre called the Zanzibar. This was closed in January 2010.

In spring of 2013, the building was being converted into a restaurant.

Contributed by woody

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

woody
woody on March 23, 2009 at 3:54 am

press advert from the ABC Trocaedro reopening for Blue Thunder
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3377011258/

photos of the original auditorium taken in 1981
detail of the proscenium showing some of the deco lanterns
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/56064749/

looking back up the circle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/56064748/

rear of the circle plasterwork and clock
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/95288677/

rear circle looking across the seats with one of the windows with its shutters open (an unusual feature?)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/95288678/

the circle lobby with original doors in 1981 (one of the few original remaining areas that survive in the Zanzibar
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/95288676/

exterior as the Odeon in 1981 showing Annie
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/155060375/

exterior being converted into the Zanzibar – at this time most of the interior was stripped out
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2121487484/

rear of the auditorium block with shops in 2007
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/253212177/

woody
woody on April 20, 2009 at 5:12 am

more scans of photos i took in 1981, they are a bit dark as my flash was of limited use in such a huge dark space
the original stunning auditorium with its ribbed walls and showing the proscenium arch
View link
one of the huge deco lanterns
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3456514551/
looking up at the ceiling and lanterns
View link
the circle lobby (one of the few remaining areas of original decoration that survive)
View link
screen 2 in the rear stalls, with a row of double love seats at the rear, you had to move around a lot in this screen to find seats that didnt have broken springs
View link

woody
woody on May 16, 2009 at 6:02 am

newspaper clippings from the closure of the Odeon
Odeons films flicker out
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3535849696/
and the coversion to bingo and new abc
Ripping out Odeons heart with some great photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3535029603/

woody
woody on May 16, 2009 at 6:13 am

a photo scanned from a newspaper clipping from the coverage of the opening of the new ABC Troc showing the stunning make over, this was an amazing cinema to watch films in
the ceiling was restores and relit and painted in purple pink and gold but sadly the deco lanterns were removed, i wonder what happened to them
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3534999445/

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on May 9, 2010 at 5:19 am

Nightclub has closed,building apparently sold for [REDEVELOPMENT]

woody
woody on January 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

two more photos
the ornate sidewall of the stalls – at this time a side corridor fire exit for screen 3 (taken in 1983)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/5368488904/
lobby heating grill – taken 1983 – poor lighting
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/5368489304/

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on September 29, 2011 at 5:16 am

A report in today’s local paper says that there is a plan to turn it into a restaurant. Lets hope the same fate has the Kings Heath cinema don’t happen here.!! WWW.thisisderbyshire.co.uk

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on March 23, 2013 at 3:40 am

A report in the Derby Telegraph shows the new restaurant that is taking over this lovely old building is nearly ready for opening.

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on May 9, 2013 at 2:58 am

The fibreglass bust that has sat on the front of the building for around 15 years has been sold by the owners.They have also sold the Zanzibar letters and stars from the canopy. All the money raised is going too a local charity.

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on June 10, 2013 at 9:27 am

I have just uploaded a new photo showing the Gaumont as her new life as a restaurant.They even refurbished the centenary of cinema plaque on the front of the building. Although I have not seen many pictures of the new insides, from the revised planning details I found on line they have only used the ground floor.

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