The 1937 Odeon Cinema


Artist's impression of the Odeon Cinema
Artist's impression of the Odeon Cinema
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

The 19 April 1937 saw the opening of the Odeon Cinema at 114-116 High Street Epsom. It was just latest of the cinema chain run under the Odeon brand by Odeon Theatres Limited. This group, whose chairman was Oscar Deutsch, opened its first cinema in 1930 and by 1941 there were 258 Odeon cinemas throughout Britain. The name Odeon had been used on the continent before Oscar Deutsch first used the name in 1930 dispelling the claims that Odeon was an acronym of Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation. Their art deco buildings and plush interiors became icons of their age using the latest audio-visual technology; they were, as the firms publicity states "not only simply somewhere to watch films, but somewhere to experience them."

The widespread use of television in the post war years saw a rapid decline in cinema audience numbers. Bingo was introduced to the Epsom Odeon in 1961 but this was not well received in the town so the management experimented with more upmarket films, including some with opera and ballet themes. These were in turn replaced by midnight horror movies in 1968. However the big single-screen auditoriums of the 1930s simply were not economic to run and the concept of multi-screen cinemas was now very much in vogue. Where practical the old 1930's cinemas were converted to the new format but some simply did not lend themselves to the necessary adaptions. Epsom was one of the latter and it closed in 1971. A new multi-screen Odeon was opened in 1999 in the Upper High Street.

Location Map
Location Map
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

Early stages in the construction
Early stages in the construction
Image Source: Epsom & Ewell Local & Family History Centre

During construction 1During construction 2
During construction
Image Source: Bourne Hall Museum

The Finished Building
The Finished Building
Image Source: Bourne Hall Museum

The Interior
The Interior
Image Source: Bourne Hall Museum

The Opening Programme
The Opening Programme
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

A Page from the Opening Programme
A Page from the Opening Programme
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

Seating
Seating
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

Typical Projection Equipment
Typical Projection Equipment
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

F. J. Walsh - The Epsom Odeon's First Manager
F. J. Walsh - The Epsom Odeon's First Manager
Image Source Odeon Cinema Opening Programme

114-116 High Street Odeon Cinema demolition
114-116 High Street Odeon Cinema demolition.
Photographed by LR James on the 15 April 1972
Image Source: Epsom & Ewell Local & Family History Centre

With thanks to Jeremy Harte for suggesting the idea and lending the Opening Programme.