Odeon Glasgow

56 Renfield Street,
Glasgow, G2 1NF

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Odeon Glasgow

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Opened on December 31st 1934, the Glasgow Paramount Theatre was one of the later cinemas built for the American based chain in Britain. The architects were Frank T. Verity and Samuel Beverly, who designed many of the Paramount Theatre’s in the UK.

Glasgow’s was freestanding, and occupied half a city block. The facade was built in white granite, with five two-storey finned windows curving around and above the corner entrance. At night, the entire building was outlined in neon.

The main foyer had an open staircase and upper foyer, which looked down onto the ground floor, and was home to a tea room and restaurant, situated under the tall corner windows. A further cafe was situated upstairs from the main restaurant.

The auditorium seated 2,784 in the circle and stalls, and was originally coloured green, copper and silver. The stage area was spacious, with a tall fly-tower, and around fifteen dressing rooms at the rear of the side elevation and under the stage. A Compton 4Manual/10Ranks organ rose from this under-stage area.

In 1939, the Paramount Theatre, along with all other UK Paramount’s, was sold to Oscar Deutsch’s chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. and was re-named Odeon. Under this name, it continued successfully until 1970, with live shows augmenting the film presentations. The Rolling Stones played there, as did The Beatles supported on the bill by Roy Orbison. Duke Ellington and his Orchestra appeared in concert in the autumn of 1969.

In early-1970, the cinema was closed and comprehensively remodeled. The Compton organ was removed and by January 2004, the console was being housed in Summerlee Heritage Museum in nearby Coatbridge. It has now been shipped to a private residence in the USA. The remodeling involved stripping almost all of the Italianate interior out and creating 3 screens – one in the former balcony, one in the stalls (both seating around 1,100) and a smaller screen in the former stage area. This latter screen, seating 555, was formed over two levels, with a small circle, and had a separate entrance to the rear of the building. The foyers were remodeled too, with the double height sections being floored over, and the staircase realigned. The cafes were walled off to become offices and staff areas, and a bar was placed in the top foyer, although the view from the corner windows was now blocked.

The exterior suffered then too, the corner windows and fins being hidden behind a giant, full height readograph, lit from behind, and with corrugated metal sheeting covering much of the granite around it. It reopened as the Odeon Film Centre on 2nd October 1970.

In 1988, the screen in the stalls area was further subdivided into three screens, of around 220 seats each, and the smaller Screen 3 was split horizontally to give a total of six screens. Access to all screens was now from the main entrance. A further subdivision in 1999 saw the 1,100 seat Screen 1, in roughly the former circle, divided into four screens, bringing the total to nine. The current Screen 1, at 555 seats, is now the largest in the complex. This refurbishment also saw the bar being removed and, happily, the exterior restored to something like its former glory, with the removal of the readograph and the corrugated sheeting.

Sadly, only a few years later, the future seems uncertain, as Odeon sold the building in March 2003 to developers. On 29th March 1995, Historic Scotland afforded the building a degree of protection with a Grade B Listed building status, but this seems only to apply to the facade. It is listed in the Buildings At Risk Register.

The cinema closed on 7th January 2006, and plans call for the demolition of the interior to be replaced with shops, restaurants, and a nightclub. The facade is supposed to be restored to its 1934 appearance. The auditorium was demolished in March 2013 and will be replaced by a hotel & office block, with the front of the former Odeon and its foyer spaces becoming the lobby of the hotel.

Contributed by Gary Painter

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 7, 2005 at 8:36 am

More information, plus vintage internal and recent exterior photographs of the Odeon Glasgow:
View link

garypainter
garypainter on January 7, 2006 at 11:35 am

This cinema closed on January 7th 2006. Current plans for the building involve the demolition of the interior behind the retained outer walls, for use as shops, restuarants and a nightclub. The main facade is supposedly to be restored to a closer version of the 1934 original than was done during the 1999 refurbishment.

iRoss
iRoss on January 8, 2006 at 1:04 am

A rather poor quality photograph (sorry, only had a phone with me – digital camera nowhere to be found right now) of the Odeon as it closed, with the last audience leaving. Can be found at;

View link

To all at the Odeon, your service was far better than the local competition. To all of you, Thankyou and Goodnight.

Ian
Ian on February 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Photo from 1993 here:–

View link

garypainter
garypainter on November 15, 2007 at 6:11 pm

A new scheme was passed by Glasgow City Council in November 2007 which involves demolition of the auditorium block, to be replaced by a 9-storey glass tower. The entrance block will apparently be restored to an approximation of its 1934 opening appearance.

Story and pics here:

View link

View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Photographed on its 75th birthday on New Years Eve 2009, still empty and unused:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbarr/4230721063/

Ian
Ian on June 16, 2011 at 8:43 am

Two photos taken in June 2011 of the Odeon:–

MAIN ENTRANCE

STAGE END

Jasonmullen
Jasonmullen on May 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Some promising interest shown from Sir Cameron Mackintosh into making this cinema into a Theatre.

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/314772/Showman-s-grand-plan-for-old-cinema

rmayr
rmayr on November 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

The organ from the ODEON is now in the U.S in a private house.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Photo essay http://brucepeter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-odeon-cinema-in-glasgow.html

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