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Restored Odyssey art-deco cinema in St Albans reopens

image captionA long queue formed outside the former St Albans Odeon when tickets went on sale for the first time
An art-deco cinema left derelict for 19 years is reopening after a community campaign to save it from demolition.
About £1m was raised in three months to allow a consortium led by James Hannaway to buy the former Odeon cinema in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Hundreds of people queued for tickets to Saturday's opening of the newly-named Odyssey.
A spokeswoman said there had been "huge interest and excitement".
image copyrightGary Fellows
image captionThe London Road site was derelict for 19 years
The former Odeon in London Road is the second cinema Mr Hannaway has saved after restoring The Rex in Berkhamsted, which reopened in 2004 following its 1988 closure.
In November 2009, he announced his intention to buy the four-screen St Albans' cinema, which closed in 1995, if he could raise £1m.
image copyrightjames hannaway
image captionThe four-screen cinema closed in 1995
The Odeon to Odyssey journey
1908: St Albans' first cinema, the Alpha Picture Palace, opened by Arthur Melbourne-Cooper
1927: The first cinema burned down
1931: The Capitol Cinema opened on the cleared site, seating 1,168 in the stalls and 452 in the balcony
1945: The Odeon renamed the cinema
1995: All screens closed on 20 August
1995-2009: Various proposals put forward for a new cinema but the owners want to use the site for flats
2009: James Hannaway announced he had agreed to buy the building, subject to raising the funds
2010: £1m raised between January and March
Local people raised the cash in three months.
An extra £2m needed to turn the site into a 500-seat, single screen theatre, with seating and tables on the lower level and a balcony above, was raised by buying shares, advance booking membership, sponsoring seats, donations or small loans.
Its new name is inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the science-fiction epic from director Stanley Kubrick, who lived in the city.
Jill Leslie, who has been involved with the project for three years, said the building was a "really important part of the history of St Albans".
The cinema reopens on Saturday afternoon with a singalong screening of Frozen and is followed in the evening by The Theory of Everything, a biopic of Stephen Hawking.
image captionThe building, including the projection room, has taken four years to restore
image captionMany of the original fixtures have now been restored
image captionPrevious owners of the Odeon site had wanted to use the site for flats

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