Paramount / Odeon

Paramount – London Road

The site of the Paramount Cinema was originally a boxing club at the corner of London Road and Pudsey Street. The company, who already controlled an impressive circuit of cinemas, converted it into a 3000 seat super cinema; after a string of unsuccessful objections by the owners of the Futurist, Scala, and Palais du Luxe to the monopoly that Paramount had by producing, distributing, and exhibiting films.

After a £240,000 construction the new modern cinema was finished on the 30,000 square foot site.

Inside and out the Paramount was elegant; from the well lit, neon build adorned, facade; to the broad staircases with middle and side banisters; and the lounge, made up with patterned carpet, furniture, and artificial flowers.

It was the largest purpose-built cinema that Liverpool had ever seen. The auditorium was a massive 120′ wide, boasted 70′ high ceilings, and a stage opening of 80′. The large orchestra pit contained a Compton organ with two organ chambers.

The impressive cinema was to become the home of not only films but famous bands, stage performances, and organ interludes; having the most modern sound system the Western Electric Wide Range.

On the 15th of October, 1934 the Paramount opened its doors for the first time with a ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor George Alfred Strong. The programme consisted of films, Cleopatra by Cecil B Mille; a stage show by Teddy Joyce; presentation by Francis A Mangan’s Mirror of Delight; John Kellawy, BBC artist; 24 Dream Girls and 18 Helliwell Girls; and an organ recital given by Rex O’Grady.

The cinema maintained its title as the premier cinema in Liverpool by being the first to install CinemaScope with four-track magnetic stereophonic sounds, in 1954. With this upgrade came a 51; by 21′ curved Miracle Mirror screen; this was a screen hat designed with tiny lenses which would direct light outwards from the screen instead of the up and down as did the conventional screen. The sounds was delivered by twelve speakers around the auditorium as well as three sets of eight behind the screen. The theatre upgraded again in 1958, increasing the speaker count to 83 and the screen dimensions to 51.5′ by 24.5′.

On the 6th of June, 1965 the Odeon began the longest single film run in its history with The Sound of Music. The film ran continuously until the 29th of April, 1967.

After The Sound of Music closed the audiences were waning too much for the single large hall so the Odeon, closed down in 1968 to be converted into a two screen cinema.

The Odeon 1, which seated 989 people, maintained the old equipment, stereophonic sound and a Philips DP 70/35mm projector. The newer Odeon 2, while only seating 595 people, was fitted with a new Cinemeccanica 8 Projector and long-running Cakestand system.

This processes of division occurred again 4 years later when the Odeon 2 was converted into 3 separate cinemas.  They reopened on the 23rd of December, 1973 with the following line-ip: The Belstone Fox, in the Odeon 2; A Touch of Class, A Nice Girl Like Me, in the Odeon 3; and Live and Let Die, in the Odeon 4. In 1979 the area of the bar was converted into a theatre as well, making a grand total of five screens. 

Twenty years later the Odeon Cinema spent £2.8 million to double the size of their theatre to ten screen in only 6 months, while still screening films on two of the existing screens. The multiplex re-opened on the 16th of July, 1999 with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The Odeon remained in business until 2012 at which point the building was demolished and a car park has been erected in its place – an image of the demolition can be found in the slides below.

 

“I loved going to the cinema and remember going to see Dr No James Bond here, and there was always  a queue to get in”

 

You can play each gallery by clicking on Start, and if you want to see the full sized photograph click on it’s title beneath each photograph.

[slickr-flickr search=sets set=”72157637453922056″ size”m640″ autoplay=”off” descriptions=”on” captions=”on” flickr_link=”on” flickr_link_target=”_blank”]

 

Odeon – London Road

After The Sound of Music closed the audiences were waning to much for the single large hall so the Paramount, which by this time was being called the Odeon, closed down in 1968 to be converted into a two screen cinema. The Odeon 1, which seated 989 people, maintained the old equipment, stereophonic soud and a Philips DP 70/35mm projector. The newer Odeon 2, while only seating 595 people, was fitted with a new Cinemeccanica 8 Projector and long-running Cakestand system.

This processes of division occurred again 4 years later when the Odeon 2 was converted into 3 separate cinemas.  They reopened on the 23rd of December, 1973 with the following line-ip: The Belstone Fox, in the Odeon 2; A Touch of Class, A Nice Girl Like Me, in the Odeon 3; and Live and Let Die, in the Odeon 4. In 1979 the area of the bar was converted into a theatre as well, making a grand total of five screens. 

Twenty years later the Odeon spent £2.8 million to double the size of their theatre to ten screen in only 6 months, while still screening films on two of the existing screens. The multiplex re-opened on the 16th of July, 1999 with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The Odeon remained in business until 2012 at which point the building was demolished and a car park has been erected in its place – an image of the demolition can be found in the slides below.

Mike Taylor was the projectionist at the Odeon and gives a wonderful insight what went on in ‘the box’ and remembers the Sound of Music being the longest running film screening for over two years with 2,500 people visiting everyday.

 

“As a kid before I went blind, I used to go to the Granby, I still liked to go to the cinema when I could no longer see. I took my two nephews to see Close Encounters, they were letting me know what was happening”.

We’d sit on the back row holding hands at midnight courting

I loved the musicals in those days. I don’t like the multiplexes

 

You can play each gallery by clicking on Start, and if you want to see the full sized photograph click on it’s title beneath each photograph.

[slickr-flickr search=sets set=”72157638018496773″ size”m640″ autoplay=”off” descriptions=”on” captions=”on” flickr_link=”on” flickr_link_target=”_blank”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Paramount / Odeon”

  1. American Simplex projectors were employed when it was the Paramount. In 1942 the cinema became the Odeon. In 1948 Gaumont kalee projectors were introduced and installed at the Odeon. In 1958 the Philips DP 70s were put in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Gaumont Kalee projector mentioned above is the Gaumont
    Kalee 21. Cinemas that were built as Odeons were fitted with British Thomson Houston (BTH) machines.

    Liked by 1 person

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