Odeon Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne,
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One of seven Paramount Theatre’s built by the American owned Paramount Theatres Ltd., in cities in the United Kingdom (the others were in Birmingham which is still open as Odeon), Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds which have now closed and Liverpool & London’s Tottenham Court Road, which have been demolished).
The Paramount Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne opened September 7, 1931 with Jack Buchanan & Jeanette MacDonald in “Monte Carlo”, and a stage presentation by Francis A, Mangan “The Ladder of Roses”. The Paramount Theatre was a large and lavish addition to the city’s cinema scene. Designed by Frank T. Verity and Samuel Beverley, it has a strong similarity to the Paramount Theatre at Aurora, Illinois – Charles M. Fox is believed to have been the interior designer of both.
Opulent in the extreme, the decor included "pilasters which flower into glass illumination fittings", silk panels, over 500 motives and paintings applied directly to the walls over a two month period, sequin-spangled drapery, and a series of statues.
There was a full (and frequently used) 30ft deep stage behind the 54ft proscenium. A Wurlitzer 3Manual/19Ranks theatre organ on a lift rose up to the left of the stage. In the basement was a restaurant.
The 6-storey exterior was finished largely in brick dressed with Portland stone. A fancy, American style marquee ran across the width of the Pilgrim Street frontage with a vast vertical "Paramount" sign in the centre of the building the height of three floors.
On November 27, 1939 all the Paramount theatres were sold to Odeon and the Newcastle Paramount was renamed Odeon on 22nd April 1940. Stars who appeared in shows at the theatre include, Billy Cotton & His Band, Joe Loss & His Orchestra, George Robey, Anna Neagle, Al Bowlly and George Formbey.
CinemaScope was fitted in 1954 prior to "The Robe" – the auditorium was modernized and the decor simplified but much of the original still remained. Ten years later the Wurlitzer organ was removed. In the 1970’s pop concerts features The Whoi, The Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart.
A plan to demolish and redevelop the site in 1972 came to nothing and in 1975 the venue was tripled by extending forward the circle to create a 1,228 seat Screen 1, with 158 & 250 seat screens 2 & 3 below the circle. Screen 4 was added 1980 on the former stage – it has 361 seats.
Good years followed – the cinema survived an AMC multiplex opening in 1987 and a major refurbishment was carried out (costing £750,000).
In 1999 the Odeon was Grade II Listed with English Heritage stating "[it is] The best surviving Paramount cinema in Britain, with well composed facade and rich interior with Lalique glass fittings"
In 2001 Odeon Theatres Ltd. decided to build a new multiplex in the city centre and successfully applied to have the cinema de-Listed to maximise its site value for redevelopment.
It closed in 2002 and stood empty and unused. Demolition began in December 2016 and was expected to to take 46 weeks. At 11pm on the evening of 3rd April 2017 while demolition work was underway, the entire front of the building collapsed into the street. Luckily no one was injured or killed, but the bus shelter on the pavement outside the Odeon was crushed and totally demolished. Demolition of the former cinema recommenced in early-May 2017.
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