90 Denmark Hill,
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Styles: Art Deco
Located in the south London district of Camberwell. The Odeon Theatre was built on the site of the Camberwell Empire Theatre, later the New Empire Cinema. It was designed by Andrew Mather, assisted by Keith P. Roberts for Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. and was the largest Odeon built in London (the fourth largest built for the circuit). It opened on 20th March 1939 with Fred MacMurray in “Men With Wings”.
Where the New Empire Cinema had its entrance on the apex of the corner of Denmark Hill and Coldharbour Lane, the new building had seven shop units located. The Odeon was designed with two matching entrances on both roads. Each had a square fin tower that were clad in light yellow vitrolite tiles and carried the ‘Odeon’ name.
Inside the large auditorium were 1,484 seats in the stalls and 986 seats in the circle. The decoration was quite plain with a honeycomb pattern of vents on the splay walls beside the proscenium and a painted band across from the side walls over the ceiling. Lighting was via fittings suspended from the ceiling.
The Odeon suffered some minor bomb damage on several occassions during 1944, but things were quickly patched up. In its last years of operation, only the circle was in use and the entrance on Denmark Hill was closed off. The end came suddenly on 5th July 1975 with Dirk Bogarde in “The Night Porter”.
It stood empty for six years until 24th January 1981 when it became a Dickie Dirts emporium selling jeans at greatly reduced prices. This was only a brief respite, as the business folded and the building sat decaying for another ten years, often occupied by squatters. In spring 1993 it was demolished and a block of flats for homeless young people called ‘The Foyer’ was built on the site.
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