22 Castle Hill,
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The Odeon Theatre was built for and operated by Oscar Deutsch’s chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. It opened on 28th July 1937 with Merle Oberon in “Beloved Enemy”. Designed by architect Harry Weedon who was assisted by Budge Reid from the architectural firm Harry Weedon Partnership.
It is designed in an Art Deco design typical of Odeon Theatres being built at that time. The auditorium was illuminated by deeply curved plaster troughs which cross the ceiling and extend onto the sidewalls, each one containing concealed lighting. Seating was provided for 1,234 in the stalls and 642 in the balcony.
The Odeon led an uneventful life, becoming part of the Rank Organisation when J. Arthur Rank took over Odeon Theatre’s.
It closed on 22nd February 1975 with Ron Moody in “Oliver” and the Rank release films were transfered to the Plaza Cinema across the road.
The Odeon was sold to the International Bible Students Association. By 1977 it was in use as a church. The current occupants Jehovah’s Witnesses carried out a major refurbishment of the building which they now use as an Assembly Hall.
In October 2000, the former Odeon was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.
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