Odeon York To Close

posted by Tim on April 3, 2006 at 7:42 am

YORK, ENGLAND — After over 2 years of uncertainty, the owners of the 1937 art deco Odeon York, have confirmed that the building is to close in August this year.

This is despite a rigorous campaign by local residents, which produced a petition of over 13,000 signatures in just over 9 weeks, and celebrity support by Dame Judi Dench, who was born and raised in the city.

Since it was announced that the cinema was being assessed for ‘economic viability’ the condition of the interior has been allowed to deteriorate, which carpets held together with tape, roped off seating, disgusting toilet facilities and naked light bulbs hanging from light fittings.

Investment in the property has been lacking for a number of years and they seem to have deliberately run it into the ground.

The building is a unique survivor of the 1930’s Odeon circuit and was designed in red brick facing rather than the usual cream faience tiling prevalent on other Odeon buildings. This was due to the close proximity of the cinema to Yorks historic city walls and stipulations laid down by the city councillors.

As such York gained a beautiful streamlined picture house that has entertained people for nearly 70 years. It also retains the last 1930’s Odeon signage in the whole circuit.

The owners have said that the decision was taken ‘with regret’ and was due to increasing pressure from other venues in the area, an arts cinema and a 12-screen multiplex. This seems a poor excuse on their behalf as the multiplex has been running for 16 years and is the most expensive cinema to visit.

Rather more cryptically is that they have said they no longer own the building but lease it from a property management company!

At a time when York is experiencing a renaissance in housing developments, retail, tourist attractions and nightlife, it seem ludicrous that the Odeon cannot be a part of the cities future.

What is perhaps more telling is the fact that the whole Odeon circuit is now owned, not by an entertainment company, but a private equity firm, more concerned in property development than property investment.

As a campaigner I intend to carry on fighting to secure the future of this fantastic building.

This is a grand old lady in need of a sensitIve restoration to bring back her 1930’s glory.

I would welcome the support of visitors to Cinema Treasures.

Theaters in this post

Comments (4)

finetyme on April 3, 2006 at 4:15 pm

Is the building listed?
It should be Grade 2 at least.
I spent hours on saturday mornings in the late 50’s in the Odeon and it can’t be allowed to slip away

boogascool on April 4, 2006 at 2:35 am

i just found this april 4th update: This cinema has to be saved :

Film-goers reel over closure
by Evening Press reporter

CINEMA-goers have reacted with shock at the sudden announcement that York’s Odeon is to close after nearly 70 years.

The Evening Press revealed on Saturday that the cinema will shut its doors in August, despite a 13,000 name petition to save it.

Movie fans said it was a sad loss of the traditional picture house, which is a Grade II Listed Building, but admitted it was in need of too much renovation work.

James Hardy, 25, a personal trainer, of Haxby Road, York, said: “It’s too old-fashioned and run down. I don’t think many people use it so maybe it would be a waste of money to save it. They’ll probably turn it into a nightclub or something instead.”

Becky Harris, 20, of Haxby, said: “It’s quite expensive, considering how run down it is. I think the problem is that people are going to City Screen or Vue at Clifton Moor instead, because they’re nicer and more modern.”

Workers were told about the decision to close the cinema on Friday but were angry that bosses had not revealed plans earlier.

They said rumours had been circulating for months that their 23 jobs were under threat but no statement was made by the company until the sudden announcement.

One worker, who said he was called Gary, said: “The company has gone about it in a bad way because they hadn’t said anything until Friday, and then there wasn’t any consultation. We were just told it was closing.

“There’s no redundancy payment or anything like that and they’re talking about finding people jobs in other Odeons, like Harrogate, but I don’t think anyone will want to travel.

“I’ve already got another job, but I’m not sure what other people will do.”

George Shepherd, 82, from Dringhouses, York, who was manager at the Odeon for 26 years from 1967, was also informed of the closure by bosses.

“It’s a very sad day, but I think somewhat inevitable,” he said.

“I have some great memories from my time there.”

It is not known what will happen to the Odeon building, but developers believe it could be worth £2 million.

York MP Hugh Bayley said: “It’s a very fine building and should not and must not be demolished. It would be most sensible for it to be used for the purpose it was originally designed for.”

Developers could be interested in turning the building into everything from a hotel or nightclub to apartments, offices or even a museum, a property expert said today.

The Blossom Street cinema, situated alongside the main entrance to the city, could be worth millions of pounds, said Andrew Hedley, of Blacks property consultants.

But its value would be dependent on how tightly planners restricted its redevelopment, and whether they allowed sufficient changes to be made.

“The problem is it will be worth what planners will let it be used for,” he said. “It’s totally governed by the planners.”

Mr Hedley revealed there was likely to be interest from nightclub operators, and hoteliers as well, particularly in the Mount area.

He said it was rare for a building of its size to come onto the market.

City of York Council has said that the Odeon property was an important building in York and one the authority would want to protect.

A spokeswoman for Odeon said the cinema chain did not own the York building. It leased it from a property management company whose details she did not have.

We asked people what they thought about the closure of the Odeon Cinema

Andrea Loates, 34, of Acomb, said: “It would be a shame if they knocked the cinema down as it does have a long history. It should be modernised and developed – as long as they don’t turn it into flats because there’s already too many expensive apartments in York.”

Mick Tasker, 44, of Acomb, said: “It’s a shame to lose it. They can’t change the front of the building because it’s listed, so I’m not really sure what it could be used for – maybe a supermarket.”

Christine Hick, 55, of Tadcaster, said: “It will be a shame if we lost the building and it is sad for the people who work there. But I’m not sure many people go to the Odeon. Maybe they should turn it into a


Alex Plaisance, 26, of York, said: “All the old cinemas where built in this style, but its looks old-fashioned and shabby and I’m not sure why it’s listed. It is a pity they can’t refurbish it to compete with places like City Screen.”

Updated: 09:49 Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tim on April 4, 2006 at 5:47 am

Colin – The building is thankfully listed Grade 2 so any development will have to contend with this hurdle initially. I’m still going to fight on for its preservation, and hopefully I will be joined by many others?
This really is a sleeping beauty.

Tim on April 10, 2006 at 7:50 am

See the Odeon page for further news on the threatened cinema and a revelation as to who the real owners sre!!

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