Instant Arena

7 Clerk Street,
Edinburgh, EH8 9JH

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Odeon Edinburgh

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The New Victoria Cinema opened on 25th August 1930 with Ralph Lynn in "Rookery Nook" and was a project of Gaumont British Theatres and Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT). Architect William Edward Trent collaborated with J. W. Jordan in designing this lavish city centre cinema.

Externally the facade was clad in cream faiance tiles and had four Doric columns over the entrance. The extremely wide auditorium was decorated in a semi-Atmospheric Greek Revival style, with the ceiling totally plain which represented a sky and allowed for a cloud machine to give an effect. The side-walls had a series of niches that contained sculptures of the muses of art, music and drama which were designed by artist named Beattie. Ionic columns ran in a colonnade across the rear of the balcony and at the rear of the stalls were a series of twelve private boxes. Seating was provided for 1,226 in the stalls, 772 in the balcony and 60 in the boxes.

The New Victoria Cinema was provided with a 32 feet deep stage, five dressing rooms and a proscenium opening of 40 feet wide. Other facilities included a Wurlitzer 3Manual/10Ranks theatre organ (originally installed in the Embassy Theatre, Baltimore, USA) that was first played by Leslie James. There was also a cafe for the convenience of patrons.

The New Victoria Cinema was modified in 1960 when a new proscenium arch was fitted to acommodate a larger screen. From 6th April 1964 it was re-named Odeon and in 1974 was given a Grade B Listed building status. Converted into a triple screen cinema in March 1982 with 695 seats in the former balcony and two mini’s in the former rear stalls seating 293 and 201. In December 1989 two additional screens were opened, seating 259 in the former front stalls and 182 seats on the former stage.

The Odeon closed on 30th August 2003 and apart from temporary re-opening as a live venue during the Edinburgh Festival it remained shuttered. In 2013 Gerry Boyle (brother of singer Susan Boyle) took over the building to convert it into a live performance venue. The foyer and other areas of the building opened on 1st November 2013 as The Instant Arena. The main auditorium is set to open in 2014 as a 600-seat venue.

On 12th December 1974, Historic Scotland designated the Odeon Cinema a Grade B Listed building. It is listed on the Buildings At Risk Register. In April 2012, the building was upgraded to a Grade A Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

garypainter
garypainter on October 26, 2008 at 8:00 am

The New Victoria is under very serious threat now – the planning application submitted in January 2008 which involved demolition of the interior of the auditorium block for a hotel is due to be discussed by the City of Edinburgh Council planning committee on Wed 29th October. The planning officer in charge of the case is recommending that the application be granted, but the councillors on the planning committee may vote against this recommendation – although this is very rare indeed. We are trying to lobby those councillors by emailing them before Wednesday morning to remind them of the importance of the cinema in a national context. We would be very grateful if others could do so too. Their names are printed below, and their email addresses take the form .uk Many thanks for your time.

Jim Lowrie
Charles Dundas
Elaine Morris
Gary Peacock
Marjorie Thomas
Colin Keir
Stuart McIvor
Rob Munn
Lesley Hinds
Norma Hart
Eric Milligan
Joanna Mowat
Cameron Rose
Alastair Paisley
Steve Burgess

garypainter
garypainter on October 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Sadly, the destructive plans were passed, although by a closely split vote of 6-4. Many organisations, such as the CTA and the Theatres Trust, will be requesting that the decision be called-in by Historic Scotland for a possible public inquiry.

smallbrown
smallbrown on January 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

many years ago I started a history project on the Odeon. A couple of days ago I started writing it up as a blog.

http://odeonedinburgh.blogspot.com

pelikan4001
pelikan4001 on March 21, 2009 at 9:59 pm

It’s a shame that it’s now closed. I was a student living on South Clerk Street during the academic year 1994/5 and I remember in May (?) 1995 Brave Heart had its Scotland Premiere in this very cinema. It was sectioned off and people weren’t allowed to go near but I remember I was told that Sean Connery was there!!

garypainter
garypainter on March 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

Although the decision to allow demolition has been passed by Edinburgh City Council, the final say on Listed Building Consent has still to be passed by heritage body Historic Scotland.

A new electronic petition was launched yesterday to try to push for Historic Scotland to refuse this application.

In less than 24 hours, it has collected 500+ signatures, the majority of which seem to be from Edinburgh residents themselves keen to see the building re-used as some kind of cultural or leisure venue, which would be much more sympathetic to the historic fabric of the building than a boutique hotel. It’s situated in a slightly rundown area of the city, and such a cultural or arts venue would be an excellent anchor for regeneration – and would give much mroe back to the community than any commercial hotel enterprise would offer.

You can find the petition here, please take a moment to sign:

View link

Thank You

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Vintage photographs of the New Victoria Cinema:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/1265.html

dennyc
dennyc on November 12, 2010 at 2:25 am

there is a new project dedicated to saving the cinema. If you are interested or want to get involved check out the website:

http://www.thenewvictoria.com/

You can also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm

This article includes a picture of what façade of the theatre would look like if the plans of preservationists move frward: View link

Ian
Ian on October 30, 2011 at 2:26 am

Still derelict in October 2011 – traces of the New Victoria lettering can be seen on the façade

ODEON EXTERIOR

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