127 High Street,
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Located in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. A large and lavish cinema, the Astoria Cinema opened in a Moderne Streamlined style, with 2,750 seats on 15th July 1935. It was one of several Astoria Cinema’s opened in south-east England coastal towns in the mid-1930’s.
It had a 56 feet wide proscenium, a fully equipped 40 feet deep stage with 14 dressing rooms and a Compton 4Manual/10Ranks organ with a Melotone attachment and an illuminated console. All lighting in the pink and bronze auditorium was indirect and the decorative scheme was carried out to the plans of interior decorators Mollo & Egan. There was also a café/dance studio.
The exterior was finished in polished beige artificial stone with three large arched metal windows above the entrance – not unlike the Whitehall Theatre in London.
In June 1936 it was taken over by County Cinemas, and in September 1939 they were taken over by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. It was re-named Odeon on 9th June 1940.
It was equipped with CinemaScope in 1954. It had a major refurbishment in 1960 when seating was reduced to 2,286 by way of increased leg room.
Closed on 7th January 1970 for a complete reconstruction involving creating Odeon 1 cinema in the old cafe area seating 500, and extending the former balcony forward to create Odeon 2 with 1,350 seats. The new result was a comfortable but rather bland auditoria which re-opened on 4th November 1970. A new entrance had been created on the side of the building which had originally been an exit.
A supermarket was created in the former stalls and stage area, and used the original main entrance.
The Odeon was closed on 5th April 1997, due to a new 8-screen Odeon multiplex which had opened in the town centre on 22nd November 1996.
The Odeon stood unused until it was was demolished between July 2004 and January 2005. A University of Essex campus building has been built on the site.
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