Odeon Cardiff

55 Queen Street,
Cardiff, CF1

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Odeon Cardiff

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The Odeon Queen Street Cardiff originally opened in 1911 as the New Imperial Cinema. In November 1935, it was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. It was reconstructed as the Odeon by Cardiff architect William S. Wort, re-opening on 14th September 1936 with the Charles Chaplin movie “Modern Times”. The seating capacity at this time was 1,135 in the stalls and 528 in the circle.

The narrow frontage of the cinema was wedged between shops in the main shopping area of Queen street, this being the case as the ABC cinema virtually next door.

The Odeon remained virtually unaltered until January 1980, when the cinema was twined with Screen 1 the in the original stalls and Screen 2 in the fomer circle area. In 1994 the cinema was given another 300,000 pound facelift with improvements to the foyer area, new seating and carpets.

The Rank Organisation remained committed to running the cinema even after the opening of their new five screen Capitol Odeon, but after attendance started to fall, the twin screen Odeon was closed on the 16th May 2000 with “The Green Mile” and “American Beauty”. Ironically, the three screen ABC cinema just next door had also closed just eleven months before, in June 1999.

The auditorium was demolished in January 2003, and the foyer area of cinema is now a retail shop unit.

Contributed by Peter 123

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 9, 2005 at 3:17 pm

The Odeon closed on 16th March 2000. It was demolished in January 2003 and two retail units built on the site, one of which is an HMV store.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 11, 2005 at 11:43 am

A 1971 exterior photograph of the Odeon, Cardiff here:
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Ian
Ian on December 19, 2005 at 1:12 pm

Another exterior shot here
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and an interior shot here
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geoffjc
geoffjc on October 22, 2006 at 5:21 pm

The Imperial as it was initially called had a troubled history and closed for a period in the late 1920’s.
Local proprietor Max Corne undertook a total redevelopment in 1934 but the new building was still on one floor and within a few months was acquired by the rapidly expanding Odeon chain.
In less than five months, further building work, adding a circle and installing the standard Odeon fittings took place. Surviving pictures and plans show how the practically new (New Imperial) building was altered while retaining some of the design of the architect’s previous building.
A published photograph shows the very steep projection angle, and the plans for the installation of the Cinemascope screen in 1954 are preserved. In the late 1950’s the local press reported a plan to close the Odeon which was Rank’s third cinema in Cardiff, often showing re-runs or taking on films from the Capitol or Gaumont for a further week; but it was the adjacent Gaumont (Empire) which actually closed in 1961.

Seating was improved in the 1970’s,with much greater legroom as well.

The twin Odeon involved building a new box (off-centre) at the rear of the former stalls area. Unusually, two projectors were still used for a time ,though the manageress had to apologise to the audience during a James Bond film for the unexpected interval required when one machine had failed.

geoffjc
geoffjc on February 22, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Architects plans for the addition of a balcony were first submitted in 1935 by “The Elite Cinema Company” and appear to have been adopted and modified in the rebuilding for Odeon.
Photographs recently published from this period show some small differences in the completed building from the plans.

geoffjc
geoffjc on August 16, 2007 at 6:10 pm

During the period when sound had been installed in most of the local cinemas the Imperial described itself as “The home of the silent screen” and featured a live orchestra.

Ian
Ian on August 17, 2007 at 8:18 pm

A photo of the art deco circle foyer here:–

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edithapearce
edithapearce on March 29, 2009 at 6:20 am

In the early 1960s the Odeon possessed two Kalee 21 projectors. These powerful machines were the first to be coloured orange / yellow (all previous Kalee models had black crackle paint) and were considered easy machines to operate. The carbon feed being adjusted by a left and right controls in front of the machines.

Earlier Kalee arc equipment was adjusted by means of one control at the rear with the two adjustment wheels on the one shaft.It was difficult to make this adjustment and view the screen at the same time.

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