Odeon Newcastle upon Tyne

Pilgrim Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QE

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Odeon Screen 1

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 stands empty and unused. Demolition is set to begin in December 2016 and is expected to to take 46 weeks.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

Ian
Ian on August 19, 2010 at 1:07 am

Some more photo’s of the Odeon in it’s current sad state (August 2010) can be seen here. Some more of the main screen will follow in a few days.

Exterior:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4906417519/

Foyer:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4907004860/

Screen 3:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4906417351/

Seat standard:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4907004660/

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 28, 2010 at 4:12 am

Vintage photographs of the Paramount/Odeon, and its Wurlitzer organ console:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/2162.html

William Mewes
William Mewes on April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Here is a rather depresing photo taken from the upper level of a Number 21 Bus in April 2011.

View link

The_Tower_Bridge_Fox_1
The_Tower_Bridge_Fox_1 on March 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

This is a Horror story! The exterior of the building is just as worth saving as the interior, You just have to look at sites where they already completely demolished cinemas without retaining any original features. (The Gosforth Royalty. The Queen theatre)

To see just how vacuous the these sites now are. Gosforth still looks like it has a front tooth removed, And the tacky pastiche were the queens theatre stood is urban anti mater.

Much better to sees original features retained even if its not still used as a cinema

In London there are plenty examples of converted cinema , Witherspoon pub housed in a cinema , There is even an apartment store housed in inside a cinema with stalls circle screen and even the original organ retained.

But of course a cinema would be even better.

orence
orence on October 30, 2014 at 5:11 am

Hi. I wondered if any of you could help me out. I am wanting to get access to the inside of the Odeon. Does anyone know who to contact in order to get permission? Many thanks.

project
project on October 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Demolition is set to start on 1st November 2016. When the Odeon was tripled in 1975 it was a drop wall conversion. The two mini cinemas (cinema 2 & 3) were in the back stalls with a wall built down from underneath the front of the circle. This left the original circle, front stalls and original proscenium untouched and this became cinema 1. When the Odeon became four screens the circle was extended forward and a new proscenium was built in front of the old one, this remained as cinema 1. Cinema 4 was what was left of the old front stalls at ground floor level.

NThomson
NThomson on October 23, 2016 at 11:40 am

I worked at this theatre from 1975 till closure, and news recently about its impending demolition is very sad, We`ve experienced some great premieres, special screenings, visits by celebrities etc… what a pity to lose such a historic building…

terry
terry on November 3, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Photo uploaded. I made a rare excursion into Newcastle today and fully expected to see the scaffolding already up. So far, however, nothing seems to have taken place – at least on the outside. I guess that inside the usual asbestos stripping etc must be in progress.

What a pity that the Paramount/Odeon was not considered worthy of restoration as it would have made a fine multi purpose auditorium (there is sufficient space at the rear to deepen the stage). It would have been far superior to the barren looking City Hall and the ‘slugs on the riverbank’ known as The Sage…..

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