94 London Road, North End,
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One of the original Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres. The Portsmouth Odeon opened on 14th December 1936 with Sydney Howard in “Chick”. It was the largest and most expensive Andrew Mather designed Odeon of that year. Total seating was provided for 1,824, with 1,224 in stalls and 600 in balcony.
It has an impressive monolithic tower frontage in cream faience with vertical green bands and a roof of red Spanish tiles. The auditorium’s ornate decoration included tall murals on side walls depicting film subjects.
A two week closure from 10th September 1960 for modernisation, including installation of 70mm with new wide screen and proscenium in front of original. Then began a glorious period through the 1960’s of almost uninterrupted Roadshow presentations (with the Gaumont almost opposite taking the Rank first-run weekly release).
Tripling took place on 26th August 1973, with 573 seats in screen 1 (former balcony) and 132 in each of the mini-screens located in the rear stalls under the balcony. In 1990 a fourth screen was added in the former front stalls area and a new screen was installed in screen 1. Further refurbishment has taken place since then and the current seating is 1. 631, 2. 229, 3. 179, 4. 259.
In 2007 the Freehold on the building was sold by Odeon Theatres Ltd. and after a few false roumors of closure, the final performances were held on 10th January 2008. Demolition is possibly the final act, still to be played out…..but, in December 2008, the foyer was in use as a OJ’s Discount Store and by August 2013 was in use as a Sainsbury’s Local supermarket. The auditoriums remain unusued.
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