Odeon Leeds

The Headrow,
Leeds, LS1 6NT

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CGG
CGG on May 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

With apologies for this being the Odeon Leeds site, but in answer to the question raised above, here’s a link to an early picture of the Harrogate Odeon (1930-9) showing a picture being projected onto the fine inner screen curtain(s):

http://viewfinder.english-heritage.org.uk/search/reference.aspx?uid=108220&index=792&mainQuery=odeon&searchType=all&form=home

Whether, 24 years later, this was a single curtain that rose up or centre-closing curtains, I’ll have to leave to someone who worked there during the early to mid 1960s!

CGG
CGG on May 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Hello to the Harrogate Odeon’s assistant/relief manager. The first film I recall going to see at the cinema was ‘In Search of the Castaways’, with Maurice Chevalier, Hayley Mills and Wilfrid Hyde-White, on the original single screen at the Harrogate Odeon, in January 1963. From what you say, then I think it must have been the gold satin screen curtains onto which the adverts were sometimes projected during the earlier part of the 1960s. This is what I recall from the Odeon. Are you sure about the earlier part of the 1960s? Since Harrogate is rather off-topic here I’ll have a think about things and aim to post a comment later under the relevant cinema page.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on May 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

CGG, I was the Harrogate Odeon,s assistant/relief manager in the late sixties and your comments about the, then, single screen cinema make welcome reading. Although we prided ourselves on the standard of presentation, we never had a festoon curtain which, I believe, is the type to which you refer. Our house curtains were plain grey velour while the screen curtains were gold satin (previously used as house curtains and which, in 1968, the projectionists and I reinstated when we realized the CinemaScope screen frame was set far enough back not to foul the tabs on the original screen tabs track. Both sets of curtains parted centrally and opened to the side. The ABC Regal was far more ornate, being one of W. R. Glen’s best interiors, and they did indeed have a gold, festoon curtain which gathered upwards on many wires. The festooning satin looked very attractive when lit by the three-colour circuit footlights.

MikeJC
MikeJC on October 12, 2012 at 9:40 am

I know that a considerable number of cinema organists in the U.K. had the christian name of Reg or Reginald (e.g. Dixon, Foort, Foxwell, Stone, and about twenty others!), but I think you’ll find that Mr O'Grady’s christian name was Rex.

John Farrar
John Farrar on February 24, 2011 at 12:18 am

I recently recieved a letter from Beryl Marshall, who was Assistant Manager at the Odeon during some of my time there.

She writes….
I started at the Odeon in 1961 as a full time Usherette. The Manager was Mr Holgale, the Staff Supervisor was Mrs Burgess. We had wooden ice cream trays, which were very heavy and you had to walk down the aisles backwards. One usherette was spotlighted to commence sales. At the front of the auditorium was a rising platform, originally housing an organ played during intervals. In the building we had a classic restaurant. We had many live shows and I saw stars like; The Beatles, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey. The Beach Boys spent all day prior to the show, fine-tuning the acoustics. I remember meeting the old Leeds United players; Billy Bremner, Alan Clarke, Paul Reaney. We had many Charity Nights and famous Boxing Matches, via satellite from America. We also broadcasted late night Chinese shows. We then changed to three cinemas, the smallest being where the restaurant (then bar) originally was. In September 1968, I was made redundant (closure for twinning) but returned in May 1969 to re-apply for my post. I continued working untill ill health forced me to leave in 1992. I have happy memmories of my time in the Odeon and hope my words have stirred some happy thoughts in readers.

Beryl Marshall

John Farrar
John Farrar on November 12, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Clive is certainly correct when he says Odeon 1 was the perfect auditorium to experience a film. Indeed ‘Fiddler on the roof'was one of many outstanding presentations, when showmanship was the name of the game. Other stand out Roadshows were Scrooge, where full use was made of the ceiling surround speakers during the 'See the phantoms’ scene. Hello Dolly! was another great presentation in 70mm and six track stereo, especially in the parade sequence just before the intermission, the sound was phenomenal. Alan Thornton who was General Manager for 25 years always maintained that the film which stood out most for him regarding great business, was Star Wars which ran for 13 weeks from 29th January 1978. Who can forget the fabulous Dolby Stereo, a new innovation at the time. Odeon 2 also had its moments. Close Encounters played in Odeon 2 in 70mm and Dolby Stereo for 16 weeks from 2nd April 1978. Its no lie that on occasions, the queue for Star Wars along the Headrow and the queue for Close Encounters along Briggate met at the bottom on Vicar Lane!
When I worked there in the 90’s, it was great to stand at the back of Odeon 1 and experience a full house for one blockbuster after another, ‘Dances with wolves’ and ‘Silence of the lambs’ for example but nothing compared to the Roadshow years.

CGG
CGG on November 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

(Continued from above.) Thanks to John Farrar for pointing out where Ryan’s Daughter was actually screened. I’ve since found the newspaper listings and it ran at Vicar Lane from Sunday 14th February â€" Saturday 5th June 1971 â€" 16 weeks! We normally watched films in our home town of Harrogate â€" the Odeon (still there today, thank goodness, but not the single auditorium and large screen with its amazing ‘Austrian Puff’ curtain on many wires!) and ABC (now demolished) â€" so visiting Odeon 1 at the Headrow was always a special occasion. Eventually, in 1972, we moved away to the south, but I did manage to see ‘Diamonds are Forever’, which ran for 7 weeks from April 1972 in Odeon 2 â€" with its gold/yellow upholstery at the time. (Oops, thanks again John for correcting me on the actual colour of the curtains in Odeon 1 â€" the lighting obviously did its magic particularly well.) The big memory from this period is of what I’d describe as the best screening that I’ve ever seen anywhere of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Odeon 1, which ran for 11 weeks from February 1972. Topol knocked the dust from the rafters in the barn and everywhere else at the same time! The power, intensity and effect of screenings in Odeon 1, with 70mm projection and absolutely stunning sound in a perfectly designed and fitted-out auditorium, has not been equalled, let alone surpassed, in any other cinema that I’ve since visited. Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to work so professionally in such a marvellous place, making the experience for the audience such an uplifting and a memorable one. What matters more, perhaps, than that the cinema is no longer there now, is that it was once. I think, possibly, the echo remains when you walk past the surviving exterior or visit the flats and shop within? It is a tribute, in some way, that the entire structure has not been turned to rubble but remains in part as a reminder. When the opportunity arises to create something similar again, then, no doubt, the same high spirit can be reignited in a new setting. (Thank you to: Colindale National Newspaper Library and the Leeds ‘Evening Post’.)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 28, 2010 at 1:23 am

Vintage photographs of the Odeon, and the console of its Wurlitzer organ:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/2169.html

John Farrar
John Farrar on September 30, 2010 at 2:11 am

In response to Clive Gardeners excellent recollections above, just a couple of comments – The Curtains in Odeon 1 were originally grey and the footlights played three different colours on to them, Blue, Red and Amber. They gradually turned cream over the years though, as they were never changed in over 30 years! Ryans Daughter didn’t show at the Odeon. It was an MGM/EMI Release and played at ABC 1 on Vicar Lane.

CGG
CGG on April 14, 2010 at 8:52 am

Those who were there in 1969, at the beginning of the Odeon 1 & 2 era, were there before my time, but only just in fact, since the first film that I went to see at Odeon 1, with my brother and parents, was ‘Cromwell’, which ran for 11 weeks from July 1970. The big films usually ran ‘for a season’ in those days. The auditorium was luxuriously upholstered in blue â€" blue seats and blue screen curtains which continued almost ‘endlessly’ on round to the sides, so there was always excitement and anticipation before the show started as to how far the screen was going to open up. There were Pullman ‘armchairs’ in the front row of the upper ‘circle’ area, but the price was greater than we wanted to spend as a family. However, abject luxury was fun to contemplate … for, perhaps … one day … We were so impressed that we came back for the re-release of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (ran for 7 weeks). What a way to see this epic film â€" if you weren’t there in Odeon 1, then you don’t know what you’ve missed! My brother reckons we also came back for the release of ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ and I certainly recall seeing ‘Waterloo’ in Odeon 1 shortly afterwards. The b/w image posted above by Lost Memory shows ‘Waterloo’ being screened, which ran for 10 weeks from February 1971. I remember seeing the trailer for ‘Black Beauty’ during the screening, which actually only ran for one week in Odeon 2 from 11th â€" 17th April 1971, thereby dating the photograph. Seat prices at this time were: 10s (50p), 13s (65p), 15s (75p) and £1 (Pullman Chairs). Children were half-price, rounded up to the nearest shilling. (To be continued.)

abcman
abcman on April 3, 2010 at 5:20 am

Yes, I saw ‘Funny Girl’ in Odeon 1 just after it first opened. Odeon 1 was the original circle area with the screen brought up to that level and equipped with full 70mm facilities.Very comfortable from what I remember.

janette
janette on April 3, 2010 at 3:59 am

Forgot to say, Funny Girl was the first film when the twin cinema opened and ran for months as far as I remember.

janette
janette on April 3, 2010 at 3:57 am

I applied for a job at the Odeon just before it opened as a twin cinema in spring 1969 and got a job in the Advance Booking Office for Cinema 1, the downstairs auditorium, which was going to show long runs of big blockbuster films, like the Majestic in City Square had previously – The Sound of Music was the last big one there I think. Most people in Leeds had never heard of a twin cinema before and it was quite exciting working there & geting it ready for opening night. The first night was a big gala opening party night with stars! The company paid for us all to get our hair done at a hairdressers across the road in the Headrow. The staff were all agog because we had heard that Omar Sharif was going to be there. In the end it was Telly Savalas and Ingrid Pitt who came – this was before Telly (and his lollipops) became a household name as Kojak – quite impressive now but we were disappointed at the time because Omar didn’t show! The downstairs cinema – Cinema 2 – showed McKenna’s Gold as the first film I think, which also starred Omar Sharif.
I can’t remember many of the staff except Hazel and Joan, who I worked with in the ABO and a guy called Peter Kenyon who was the assistant manager. I loved working there but as 19 year olds do I moved on the next year I think to work in the Bali Hai nightclub at teh Merrion Centre Mecca – anyone remember it? Fake palm trees and carpeted walls?

MrXell
MrXell on March 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Ha, I stumbled on this site while trying to find out what the new cinema in leeds is gonna be. Yup a new one to rival the 13 Screen Vue. Nice to hear peoples memories, I worked there for 2 and a half years until closure and made a lot of good friends. Some lost in the mists of time, some of whom I am still in contact with. Amazing place to work, amazing place to watch films. Loved watching Mr Lumb and Mr Jones’s banter with the legendary Mrs K Noon. The last day was certainly the end of an era. Question to all those people who worked there, what was the most memorable film that was on during your first week? Mine was Captain Jack Starring Bob Hoskins.

John Farrar
John Farrar on January 12, 2010 at 2:53 am

Its Great to hear there are some more Ex Odeon employees out there who have happy recollections of the old place. Can’t place who you are though.

Missezem
Missezem on January 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

I worked there during the goldeneye, toy story, showgirls(lol) broken arrow days. I remember working the kiosk with Mrs K Noon and Les. Remember maureen, rich, eileen Paul, corrin, Spanish gemma, louise, Scott and mr farrar. Carol Anderson, paula and doreen were duty managers at time. I remember getting a black eye from chris towers During a waterfight
in the foyer and getting a written warning for “horseplay” from the manager. Think he was called phil. Reminds me now of Mr Burns. I also fractured my wrist after slipping in the pick n mix back room when a postmix bag burst. I was stuck on the floor in an inch of pepsi syrup shouting for help and les came and lifted me out bless him haha. Some fun times but also some very upsetting times at that place too. It was my first real job while I was at college. The building was amazing. Loads of ‘magic’ doors and hidden rooms. The downstairs loos always reminded me of something from a 70’s horror film too haha.
I’m actually married to an ex odeon employee though we never worked there at the same time. Myself and come.back.abbreviated have 2 little girls and have been married 2 years.  
 

Dalevich
Dalevich on September 14, 2009 at 4:33 am

I worked there when Les was working the Candy Bar and Maureen was box office. There was Also Derek, Kerry and the Management was Doreen and Paula and I think Carol.
I remember Peter the Projectionist too.

I was mainly FOH doing the old ticket tearing and in the screens, standing menacingly in the corner when kids were being a bit rowdy.

John Farrar
John Farrar on August 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm

The Odeon was indeed a great place to work. I worked there from 1990 to 1996. When I started it was the Grey/Candystripe uniform, we progressed to the hideous blue jackets, with the big red ‘O’ on the pocket and bow ties about 1993. I started working there on 19th December 1990, the films showing were ‘Home Alone’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ ‘Little Mermaid’ ‘Repossessed’ and ‘Captain America’. The Manager at that time was Alan Thornton, who had been there since the opening of the Odeon ‘Twins'in 1969. A true showman. He would argue every monday morning with the booking department about which film was going in which screen, he nearly always won, he knew his audience. He had many stories to tell of his long career in cinema. After his retirement, Phil Westhead became Manager followed by Helen Jordan. We had 4 Assistant Managers, Beryl Marshall and Doreen Lee who had both worked at the Odeon in the 60’s prior to conversion. Margaret Walker and Paula Huddlestone were the other two. The place was a labyrinth. In those days we sold ice cream in the auditorium and the Fridge Room, where we stocked the trays up, was behind the screen of Odeon 1. To get down to Odeons 2,2 & 4 you had to carry your fully laden tray down a deep narrow stairwell at the back of the building. This was the stairwell to the old dressing rooms and there was still a couple of those at the very top of the building and the Stage Doorman’s room at the bottom. There also 'The Workshop’ which was in the old Grill Room and Kitchens of the restaurant above Odeon 5. This was where the Handyman did all his repairs and where all manner of stuff was stored, a real aladdins cave of movie memorabilia collected over the years. We had 5 projectionists, two Dave’s, Chris, Paul and Peter. I worked in the Box Office, Kiosk, Bar, Tearing Tickets and seating, selling ice cream, clearing the cinemas after each show. We all did, generally speaking you worked where you were needed at any one time in the day. Working in a cinema is either something you love or hate, once you’ve seen a film (or parts of it) for the 20th time, the magic wears off a bit. Most staff came and went very quickly but some of us stayed for years and because of the long hours, saw more of each other than our families. I made many great friends during my time at the Odeon and still keep in touch with many of them, Val, Maureen, Carol, Eillen, Kath, Beryl, Paula, Richard, Les. We have a reunion every six months in Leeds and have a great time, usually laughing at the stuff we got up to and the things that happened in the course of a day. If anyone remembers any of our motley crew, get in touch.

Dalevich
Dalevich on July 25, 2009 at 3:11 am

I miss the Odeon.

I worked there back in the blue blazer and red clip on bow tie days, I wasn’t there for long but I loved it and made some good friends there. I remember exploring all the ‘behind the scenes’ areas of the building. That building was labyrinthian in parts and you could just about access anywhere from anywhere…I know that doesn’t make sense but you could go through one door and end up somewhere you never expected to be, it was almost as if the building was alive and shifting. That sounds very strange to say and is probably getting your screen a few strange looks as you read this but it did seem that way and the exterior of the building didn’t really give away much as to the scale of the place on the inside…(Tardisian?)

It was a landmark as people have said, when it was still there all places in Leeds were in relation to the Odeon. Before my time there I used to spend a lot of time there.

…and what do we have now? A Primark….marvellous.

BTW if you worked there around the time Independance Day was on release, drop me a line. Love to catch up.

Ian
Ian on December 25, 2007 at 6:48 am

A shot of Odeon 1 towards the rear of the cinema here (1986):–

View link

edgey2001
edgey2001 on July 16, 2007 at 5:46 am

To Odeon Leeds. Were there any reminents of the original interior left after the sub-division in 1969 when you worked there, I would love to see some pics of the interior. You could upload them to flickr.com.

Mikebsc
Mikebsc on July 2, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Would love to see more interior pictures…..

Mikebsc
Mikebsc on July 2, 2007 at 3:37 pm

I remember seeing Jurassic Park 3 in Screen 1 not long before closing. It was an great cinema and I agree that the sound system was pretty amazing.

snapshot
snapshot on April 14, 2007 at 6:33 am

I was the Chief Technician at the Odeon Leeds for its last 13 years. A sad day when it closed, especially since business was good and the screens packed. We closed not because of poor returns, we were one of the most profitable cinemas on the circuit, but simply because an offer was made for the site and the company took it. On hindsite, they admit to a major mistake, pulling out of the fastest growing city in the UK, where city centre apartments are booming, where they owned a massive site that was rent free and lease free. We still filled the thousand seats in screen one on a regular basis, in fact we used to count the EMPTY seats and if there was 400 we’d call the film a flop! Odeon 1 boasted 1000 seats, 48 foot screen and digital sound one engineer commented was superior to the Odeon Leicester Square – with the most powerful amps available and every channel bi-amped, something that isn’t done now even in multiplexes due to the cost. We had first rate presentation, with 3 different coloured footlights on the tabs, and two pairs of pageants on the side walls, all with separate dimmers. I have great memories showing blockbuster movies to one packed house after the next, not to mention all of the world premieres we presented for the Leeds Film Festival. I have many pictures of the interior if anyone is interested.

Ian
Ian on January 1, 2007 at 3:14 am

A sad shot of the auditorium area after demolition, as it was being converted into a shop – note the projection portholes high up – about the only point of reference left in the space :–(

http://flickr.com/photos/12494104@N00/340783644/