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13 November 2014

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The Victoria Institute

The Odeon in Worcester

The Odeon cinema

The Odeon cinema was built on the site of the old Silver cinema - and its opening was delayed by almost 15 years after the building was requisitioned in World War Two.

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When Oscar Deutsch, the man who gave his name to the Odeon cinema chain (Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation), bought the old Silver Cinema in Foregate Street in 1935, and began work on a grand new picture house, he could not have suspected that it would be 15 years before it finally opened.

The Silver Cinema was in a building originally built in 1835 to host the Public Library and Hastings Museum.

The museum went into serious decline in the 1860's, and eventually the Victoria Institute was built to replace it - the Silver Cinema opened in the converted building in 1915.

By the 1930s it could no longer compete with custom-built cinemas like The Northwick and The Scala, and so the site was bought and the building demolished, along with the buildings either side, to make room for a big new cinema.

Unfortunately the outbreak of World War Two saw the building requisitioned, and until 1948 it was home to Spitfire parts, amongst other things, rather than film-fans munching their popcorn.

Grand opening

Even once the war office was finished with the building, it was still two years before it opened as a cinema, on 2 January 1950.

The first film shown was The Rocking Horse Winner, directed by Anthony Pelissier and starring John Howard Davies, Valerie Hobson and John Mills.

The Worcester Evening News reported that a crowd of "5,000 or 6,000" people turned up for the official opening, waiting four hours to see some of the stars of the film, and the various civic dignitaries.

In a nice link with the past, the chief projectionist at the new Odeon was EP Rouse, who had held the same post at the Silver Cinema - he served for three years in the Royal Navy between the two jobs.

When it opened the cinema had 1,688 seats and a single screen - since 1974 it has gradually added more and more screens, and the biggest screen now seats 273 people.

last updated: 26/02/2009 at 15:10
created: 26/02/2009

You are in: Hereford and Worcester > Places > Places Stories > The Odeon cinema

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