Athena Leicester

Rutland Street,
Leicester, LE1 1SA

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from a 1978 slide

Built for Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain, this large Odeon was designed by Robert Bullivant of the Harry Weedon Partnership. It is located on a corner site at Rutland Street and Queen Street (in the city centre but tucked away on a minor road away from the main retail and entertainment centre). It opened on 28th July 1938 with Edward G. Robinson in “A Slight Case of Murder”. Seating was provided for 1,307 in the stalls and 875 in the circle.

It was tripled in 1974 with the main Screen 1 located in the former circle and front stalls having 1,237 seats and two mini cinemas under the circle in the former rear stalls which seated 123 and 111. In 1988 a fourth screen was added by converting the front stalls into a 401 seat screen.

The Odeon closed on 16th July 1997 when a new twelve-screen Odeon multiplex opened at Freemans Park. The last films to play at the Odeon were “Batman and Robin”, “One Fine Day”, “Karma Sutra”, and “The Fifth Element”.

The building stood unused for several years. In 2005 it underwent a restoration back into a single auditorium and re-opened as the Athena, a conference centre and banqueting suit.

In 1998, the Odeon was designated as a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 2, 2008 at 12:38 am

A photograph I took in June 1965 when I was working at the Odeon Leicester as a Trainee Assistant Manager:

AdoraKiaOra on September 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Is this the great looking building that can be seen in the photos for the new theatre complex in Leicester named ‘The Curve’?

Ian on March 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

Some photos of the Athena – exterior, foyer and auditorium – taken in March 2009 can be found here. After 6 years of dereliction, it is amazing that the building has been saved and looks so good now!

Jockanory on November 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm

The Odeon Leicester had BTH Supa projectors until 1962 when Rank changed over to secondhand Kalee 21’s with Strong arc lamps.

CF100 on June 17, 2015 at 12:28 am

Just stumbled on these photos of the cinema under construction:

Construction Photo 1 Construction Photo 2 Construction Photo 3

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