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One of the original Odeon’s built for and operated by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. The Odeon opened on 10th May 1937 with George Formby in "Keep Your Seats Please". Although located in the town centre, the Odeon was hidden away up a narrow side street. Designed by Budge Reid working out of the Harry Weedon Partnership office, the exterior is impressive, but a little ‘boxy’. The facade is clad in cream faiance tiles, and there is a large fin tower jutting out of the centre of the facade, which contained the Odeon name on top.
Inside the auditorium, seating was provided for 978 in the stalls and 602 in the circle. The interior decoration was by interior designers Mollo & Egan, and lighting was by a Holophane system over the proscenium and on splay walls beside the proscenium. This consisted of a mass of small circlular dishes, which were lit by a three colour lighting system, that was changeble. There were also troughs containing concealed lighting in the ceiling, again with Holophane lighting.
The Odeon was sold by the Rank Organisation to the Classic Cinemas chain in around 1972, and it was re-named Classic Cinema. Classic Cinemas had previously purchased the former Gaumont Yeovil in November 1967, and that had been renamed Classic Cinema. When the Odeon was taken over, the Classic name was transfered from the Gaumont/Classic to the Odeon, and the Gaumont/Classic became a Vogue Bingo Club.
The Classic Cinema was tripled in November 1972, with 600 seats in the former circle screen and two 400-seat screens in the former stalls area. In the 1980’s it was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon, later taken over by MGM, then by the Virgin Cinemas chain and re-named yet again. On 2nd May 1996 it was taken over by the ABC chain, and re-named ABC.
The ABC was closed on Easter Sunday in April 2002, when the new 10-screen Cineworld multiplex opened in the town. The former Odeon was converted into ‘The Old Cinema Bed & Sofa Store’ which opened on 3rd January 2004. Externally, the building remains as built in 1937, though without signage. Most of the internal decoration has been retained.
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