Odeon Hendon

48 Church Road,
London, NW4 4EW

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Odeon Theatres Ltd., Rank Organisation

Architects: Robert Bullivant, Harry W. Weedon

Firms: Harry W. Weedon Partnership

Styles: Art Deco

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Located in Hendon, north London. This was the last of the original Oscar Deutsch built Odeon Theatres to open before the outbreak of World War II. It opened on 28th August 1939 with Laurence Olivier in “Q Planes”.

It was located in a residential area of Hendon on the corner of Church Road and Parson Street, as opposed to the Ambassador Cinema which was in a prime location besides shops and opposite Hendon Central underground railway (tube) station.

The Odeon was designed by Robert Bullivant from the Harry Weedon firm of architects and had all the hallmarks in style of a typical ‘Odeon’. There was a slab tower, a rounded corner which formed the entrance (similar to the Odeon Leicester) and the only difference to the majority of Odeons was the elevation was in brick, rather than in cream faiance tiles.

Inside the auditorium there were two large light fittings over the balcony and a stepped ceiling rising up from the top of the proscenium which held concealed lighting. The splay wall on each side of the proscenium had horizontal bands of plaster which contained concealed lighting.

The Odeon closed on 13th January 1979 with Robert Shaw in “Force 10 From Navarone”. The building was untouched from its opening, although looking a little jaded. It was demolished in December 1981 and a block of flats/sheltered housing for the retired named Ferrydale Lodge was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

SJT on June 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm

There most certainly was a Circle! I sat there often enough (and indeed had several formative encounters there unrelated to film) It must have seated between 400-500, the rest being in the Stalls (around 800)the back of which had a semi-occluded view of the whole enormous screen because of the overhang. If you look at any of the surviving photos of what was a large building http://www.mawgrim.co.uk/cavalcade/hendon2.jpg you will see that it was very high, with an giant tea-rooms/restaurant behind the windows on the first floor, which backed on to the Circle entrance through a single, central door. As far as I know, right to the end it retained its original, multi-drop curtains: and the decor was pure Art Deco. Do any interior shots exist?


PeterBradshaw on October 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I have very happy memories of this cinema when I was growing up! I vividly remember watching John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King there!

blencowee on August 8, 2012 at 4:15 am

I have so many wonderful memories of this place, I walked past everyday on my way to school my mother worked there for many years and as a child I spent every weekend at the Saturday morning pictures. Mr John Cross the manager was there for years and he was still in post when they closed it down he always let me and my friends in for free and I spent most of the summer holidays playing with his step daughter Gail Harding we had the run of the entire building and we would spend hours watching T.V up in the very top of the cinema in a special room that looked out over the Quadrant. They say that this Cinema was hunted by an old camera man named George I think. The manageress was Mrs Mills and the caretaker was called Ken Brain. I wish I could find Gail we lost touch many years ago she was my best pal at the time. I loved the Oden and was very sad when they knocked it down I seem to remember that Toya Wilcox the singer wanted to buy it and have it as her home, that might just be an urban myth though. Thanks for posting this on here the photo made me smile.

ArtDirector on June 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

This cinema boasted of its original art deco furniture in its circle lounge into the 1970s. The proscenium arch looked as though it had been altered as the plaster did not match, as though it had been reduced in height to accommodate Cinemascope. It had double doors in veneered dark wood with window openings with the squared-off Odeon ‘O’ in each door. It had a good feel to it as a cinema and it is sad that it closed, probably when the lease on the land was up.

FanaticalAboutOdeon on December 20, 2015 at 7:59 am

The capacity at the time of opening was 1,362 (Stalls 868, Circle 494). SJT, there is a fine shot of the auditorium in “ODEON”, published by the erstwhile Mercia Cinema Society and edited by Rosemary Clegg (ISBN 0 946406 09 X). The reproduced photograph is one of the “definitive” views taken by John Maltby Ltd., the Birmingham-based photographers commissioned by Odeon Theatres to photograph the exteriors and interiors of their cinemas on, or as near as possible to, the day they opened. The interior appears less plain than many earlier Odeons though incorporating features typical of Harry Weedon’s practice. The grand, pendant light fittings are reminiscent of those at Blackpool while the dado design on the side wall of the circle curves downwards every few rows towards the beginnings of the splay walls is not unlike Leicester Square’s surviving pattern. The splay wall treatment is quite rich and incorporates, at its base, a series of overlapping circles making quite aesthetic grillework to conceal the plenum intake/extract filters. The proscenium was already very wide (virtually level with the front stalls exit doors) and the house, or front, curtains were side opening but with a handsome design featuring large swags of a contrasting fabric. If I have a criticism of such a good looking interior, it is that the octagonal “Odeon clocks” were sited much too near the screen, being within inches of the proscenium and rather low down, as at Muswell Hill.
Overall, to my eyes, a more opulent auditorium than many original Odeons – especially for a suburban example.

damiano on September 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Hi all and blencowee in particular. My mother (Mary O'Toole) also used to work there. I used to go there after school and the projectionists became unofficial child minders. I would sit in the projectionists room and watch the movies through a small window they had. I had to keep it quiet if it wasn’t a movie for children, otherwise someone would be in trouble! (not me). I remember John Cross, and the name Mrs Mills. Ken was one of the projectionists I’m sure. He was a kind soul. And yes I vaguely recall the story of a ghost. We also had a run of the whole place. We would go up to the Circle when it wasn’t open. I remember a compliant about us laughing and joking during the movies if we were in Circle (we were kids). Saturday morning was the ‘Saturday morning picture show’ which was great entertainment for us kids. I remember the rabbit warren corridors and stairs in the non public areas. Toya Wilcox used to live in hendon, so maybe its true. Happy memories. I hope blencowee that you to read this!

SJT on January 10, 2017 at 10:05 pm

After years of trying to track down a picture of the interior, I finally find one which ought to have been freely available – it’s one of Maltby’s pictures – but oddly doesn’t feature in the otherwise complete national archive collection of his work. Never mind: it’s now in the photo section above, so have a good long wander down memory lane….

Ron Knee
Ron Knee on May 3, 2021 at 8:50 am

As mentioned in Ken’s Overview, the two very large pendant light fittings which featured in the auditorium were made by cinema specialists F.H. Prides of Clapham. Sadly these spectacular light fittings rarely survived demolition because of their size, whereas smaller wall and foyer lighting did.

Ron Knee

blencowee on March 25, 2023 at 4:41 am

Hi Damiano it’s been many years since I looked on here and was pleasantly surprised to see your message. I remember you mum Mary, I loved the Saturday morning pictures, I was there with my friends ever week. What wonderful times they were. It’s a shame that Cinemas don’t do this for kids now days. I guess having a stage made it all the more magical. I wish I could find my friend Gale I am hoping she may one day be curious as was I and look up this site and see my message.

blencowee on March 25, 2023 at 5:06 am

Damiano I meant to add my Mothers name was Rosie Todd and mine is Elaine. Don’t suppose you remember her as she was only the cleaner.

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