Odeon Haymarket

Haymarket & St. James's Market,
London, SW1Y 4SD

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Odeon Haymarket

The former Gaumont Haymarket was completely gutted and most of the space turned into offices, but a basement cinema was included in the rebuild, which opened on June 4, 1962 as the Odeon Haymarket. The opening film was an exclusive run of of Anthony Quinn in “Barabbas”, which was presented in 70mm and ran for over six months.

Seating 600 on a stadium plan, the cinema was designed by architect Leslie C. Norton. It suffered from having a fairly obscure corner entrance (facing away from Coventry Street), but was very comfortable and distributors would often hold a film over to open it here on an exclusive run. On 30th March 1967 the British Premiere of “A Man for All Seasons” was held and began a long run.

The side walls sloped in at an angle of about 10 degrees, hung with panels of Thai silk, and the ceiling had a honeycomb pattern of holes.

The Odeon closed on 14th January 1999 for ‘renovation’. In October 1999 ‘Time Out’ magazine listed the Odeon Haymarket playing the Pedro Almodovar directed film “All About My Mother”. A new style ‘Odeon’ sign (one of the first) was placed on the front of the building. The Odeon was closed in January 2000, and the sign was later removed. After laying empty for several years, work began on stripping out the building. Work was halted for a long period of time when a huge amount of asbestos materials were found. Apparently it was gutted back to the bare brick walls and there were plans put forward in 2007 to open it as a lap-dancing club, but this never happened. The building remains boarded up.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

Lodgesound on July 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hi Edd;

Remember me? I recently removed the projectors from Lord Attenborough’s house as he donated them to the BFI where they will be installed along with their sound equipment at the NFA……

Even as I was starting the job I could see all the trademarks of a Bill Gibb installation…….funny how my life with regard to cinemas has come full circle in some ways….

glyn_lewis on July 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hello, Ranwell. The Odeon Haymarket closed January 2000. And “Regeneration” opened 21 11 97, though it may have played into 1998. Not specified above, the cinema opened as the Capitol in 1927. In ‘29 it was the showcase venue for Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” with sound! And in '41 the first run of “Citizen Kane”.

SethLewis on July 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

One of the few cinemas I have ever been turned away from twice for technical difficulties – a flood once on a Sunday night for Glengarry Glen Ross and on another occasion for Ramblin Rose…for a class cinema they had a hard time maintaining it…still saw A Private Function on first run exclusive here,Bob Roberts, Glengarry, Reversal of Fortune, Woody Allen’s Alice, The X Files day dating with Leicester Sq

theonlysbf on January 21, 2014 at 5:18 am

I worked here for Bill Gibbs in the early 1980s as we were installing new lighting and sound equipment, the box was a bloody mess with Bill always tinkering. We ran a cleaned version of fantasia in 35mm, magnetic 4 track, for god knows how long mainly to empty houses, Disney persisted. There were 3 vic 10’s with carbon arcs I think we were the last in the west end to be running them to real skill to keep the light right. I remember Andy who went off to Germany, Ron who went over to Leicester Square theatre, and George who went off to be a bus driver but kept coming back on his day off. I was just 20 and it interfered with my social life I packed it all in and got a proper job, but it does bring back fond memories if you remember drop me a line

Ian on June 5, 2016 at 2:38 am

Two photos of the gutted auditorium taken in 2015 when the space was being used as a temporary canteen. Interestingly there seems to be quite a bit of plasterwork remaining from the previous Gaumont – possibly from a corridor, possibly the auditorium, it is a bit difficult to place!



Ian on June 5, 2016 at 2:54 am

Actually looking at photos, could this plasterwork be from the even earlier Capitol Cinema (1925)? The 1937 Gaumont was a bit more streamlined. Perhaps the back of the boxes?

bla on December 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

Dear theonlysbf,

I remember the run of the Irwin Kostal re-recorded Fantasia in 4 track at the Odeon. It was fantastic! The Odeon became one of my favorite West End cinema’s and Fantasia, one of my all time favourite films. I saw it at Haymarket several times. Do you happen to remember the date this run started by any chance? Curiously enough I used to keep a movie going diary at that time and I noted on the 16th August 1983 (my first ever visit to this Odeon):“A very pleasant air conditioned modern cinema, nicely designed with comfortable seats and pleasant staff.” On presentation, I noted: “Excellent! Screen nicely lit.” (I didn’t at this time know that it was carbon arc, but I clearly recognised the quality of the light!) I went on to note that admission was £3 and thought that to be dear at the time! Some time later, I followed the same print from the Odeon when it transferred to the Studios, Oxford Circus and on the 5th October 1983 noted: “Previously unscathed print, now scratched!” I think their Westrex tower did the damage, I remember the closing sequence with the sunset having become marred by a rain of scuff marks!!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 8, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Certainly an attractive and comfortable cinema with a reputation for long, premiere runs. Thought to be small when opened – would now be thought a large capacity. I was lucky, never found any flood or air conditioning problems. Fond memories of seeing “Mary Poppins”, “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, “Fantasia”, “The Lion in Winter”, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “On Golden Pond” here, during their very successful runs, among others. Presentation was top notch – two festoon curtains lit by both footlights and from above by colour spots. Both light distribution and focus on the Odeon’s big screen were always perfect in my experience. As a Rank cinema manager myself, I heard about the maintenance problems but wouldn’t have known from having enjoyed the splendid cinema on numerous occasions.

CF100 on September 5, 2017 at 5:02 pm

A 2012 application specifically to confirm that this would be in keeping with Class D2 use and thus not require planning permission, resulted in a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development confirming this would not constitute a material change of use being issued by Westminster Council.

As this scheme has not been taken forward this would appear to be of largely academic (!) interest; however, the application does include existing plans. The remains of old decor on the “right hand side wall” in the photos posted by Ian I would assume to be in the “PLANT/SERVICE AREA” on the existing plans.

Amazing that alterations to these buildings result in them being chopped and changed so much, almost like “Trigger’s broom”!

CF100 on September 23, 2017 at 11:53 am

Just realised my previous post doesn’t say that the planning application was for a “Sports Cinema Venue.”

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