Orion Theatre

Crescent West,
Cleveleys, FY5 1AB

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Orion Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located on the corner of Crescent West and Runnymead Road, in Cleveleys, a northern suburb of Blackpool. It was a cinema taken over in the course of construction by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain. It had a lot of the hallmarks of the circuit, in particular the faiance tiling, a cafe and a parade of shops (five here) along the side of the cinema. The Odeon opened on 24th November 1934 with Gracie Fields in “This Week of Grace”.

It was designed by architect George E. Tonge and had 1,156 seats, only 256 of which were in the small balcony, the remaining 900 in the stalls. It was a very streamlined auditorium with ribs of plaster rising up the walls and across the ceiling – but decorative only, as they did not contain concealed lighting.

The Odeon was closed by the Rank Organisation on 7th January 1961 with Virginia McKenna in “A Town Like Alice”. It became a live theatre for a few years until it became an independent bingo club in 1965 along with the new name of Orion. It going strong for many years, and had a spectacular display of neon above the corner entrance. Sadly, it was closed suddenly in October 2009, and was demolished in June 2010. An Aldi supermarket was built on the site and opened in 2012.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

theshanks
theshanks on March 21, 2005 at 2:00 pm

Hi, I live in Cleveleys and I just came across your website. Being a student surveyor, found it very interesting as im just doing my first pro survey on a art deco cafe around the corner with a damp problem. I can get you pictures of the current site which I will send through soon and I,ll also look for some historical information and images.
Regards
David shanks

Ian
Ian on August 9, 2007 at 4:47 am

Another exterior view here:–

View link

Ian
Ian on July 10, 2010 at 1:47 am

Orion Bingo closed recently, and in June of 2010 the building was demolished – the frontage collapsing across the road during the process.

Two photos from 1992 here:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4778903531/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4779533044/

woody
woody on July 12, 2010 at 5:38 am

shocking pictures of the buildings collapse here
View link

HJHill
HJHill on July 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

Sorry Ian, there’s an error. The Odeon was renamed Orion when it became a theatre. That name continued for the bingo.

There had been an art deco theatre called the Queen’s Theatre on Cleveleys promenade, which ran summer season shows entitled “Happiness Ahead”. The producer was Mildred Crossley. She took over the Odeon (I believe building works were needed for stage use) and renamed it Orion. Whether it was bought outright or leased, I do not know. She has the credit for giving Roy Castle early career employment. He trod the boards at the Queen’s Theatre, playing the trumpet and doing Jerry Lewis impressions.

I saw the Rank film “The Admirable Chrichton” (with Kenneth Moore and Cecil Parker; released 1957) at the Odeon. It may be a false memory but I recall the front stalls seats being on a reverse-rake floor (sloping up, from a cross aisle, towards the screen).

On the blank vertical step wall, where the auditorium bulk dropped down to the flat roof over the screen/stage, there used to be large painted letters greeting tram passengers arriving from Blackpool. THE ODEON WELCOMES YOU TO CLEVELEYS.

HJHill
HJHill on October 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Further to my last contribution: it looks like “Happiness Ahead” ran at the Queen’s Theatre on Cleveleys prom for the 1949 to 1960 seasons. The time at the Odeon (renamed Orion) was 1961 to 64. The summer show then transferred to Fleetwood and the Odeon/Orion continued on bingo. Perhaps someone could confirm those years.

SIMONBLACKAMORE
SIMONBLACKAMORE on October 31, 2013 at 4:38 pm

This brings back memories of when I lived in Cleveleys. It was around 1949 to 1951 when saw several shows at the Queens theatre for free because I attended in my St. John Ambulance uniform to provide first aid which I am glad to say was never called for. What reminded me to google the Queens was because tonight I have been to a live show of Oklahoma in Northampton which I am sure made a big impression on me aged 11 on the Queens stage. I never did see Happiness Ahead the Mildred Crossley shows because I helped out at the nearby rival entertainment – the outdoor Arena Follies starring Charlie Parsons, Eddie Stacey and Mabel Dare and troupes of pierrots. Most shows were cancelled due to rain! Whenever I return to Cleveleys I walk along the prom alone and burst into my old world of song doing poor impressions of Joseph Locke and others recalling those days of my youth on the now defunct arena.

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