Odeon Haymarket

48 Haymarket,
London, SW1Y 4SD

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 29 comments

Lionel on January 3, 2020 at 2:27 pm

@CF100 I obviously agree with your comment about how wonderful it looks. Compared to today’s standards, it would make a premium experience when it comes to scenery. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to see a film there.

Lionel on January 3, 2020 at 2:17 pm

In the above-mentioned film, we also see the projection booth sound rack. It contains a Dolby CP65 processor along with a Dolby DA20 converter, so I would assume that the Odeon Haymarket was equipped for Dolby Digital around 1994 and that the amps and speakers were replaced with new ones because of the stringent demand of the new sound format(s). Does anyone know which speakers (make, model, quantity – for both screen and surround) the Odeon Haymarket had during its last years of operation?

CF100 on January 2, 2020 at 7:49 am

Lionel: Thank you for posting the link. Not sure if I have seen it before, but it was worth watching in any case.

The lighting and “festoon” tabs look wonderful!

Lionel on December 27, 2019 at 9:28 pm

I’m sure the regulars of this site already saw this, but I’ll post the link anyway for archival purposes (short film made to introduce the theatre in 1998):


CF100 on September 23, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Just realised my previous post doesn’t say that the planning application was for a “Sports Cinema Venue.”

CF100 on September 6, 2017 at 1:02 am

A 2012 application specifically to confirm that this would be in keeping with Class D2 use and thus not require planning permission, resulted in a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development confirming this would not constitute a material change of use being issued by Westminster Council.

As this scheme has not been taken forward this would appear to be of largely academic (!) interest; however, the application does include existing plans. The remains of old decor on the “right hand side wall” in the photos posted by Ian I would assume to be in the “PLANT/SERVICE AREA” on the existing plans.

Amazing that alterations to these buildings result in them being chopped and changed so much, almost like “Trigger’s broom”!

FanaticalAboutOdeon on January 9, 2017 at 12:36 am

Certainly an attractive and comfortable cinema with a reputation for long, premiere runs. Thought to be small when opened – would now be thought a large capacity. I was lucky, never found any flood or air conditioning problems. Fond memories of seeing “Mary Poppins”, “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, “Fantasia”, “The Lion in Winter”, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “On Golden Pond” here, during their very successful runs, among others. Presentation was top notch – two festoon curtains lit by both footlights and from above by colour spots. Both light distribution and focus on the Odeon’s big screen were always perfect in my experience. As a Rank cinema manager myself, I heard about the maintenance problems but wouldn’t have known from having enjoyed the splendid cinema on numerous occasions.

bla on December 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Dear theonlysbf,

I remember the run of the Irwin Kostal re-recorded Fantasia in 4 track at the Odeon. It was fantastic! The Odeon became one of my favorite West End cinema’s and Fantasia, one of my all time favourite films. I saw it at Haymarket several times. Do you happen to remember the date this run started by any chance? Curiously enough I used to keep a movie going diary at that time and I noted on the 16th August 1983 (my first ever visit to this Odeon):“A very pleasant air conditioned modern cinema, nicely designed with comfortable seats and pleasant staff.” On presentation, I noted: “Excellent! Screen nicely lit.” (I didn’t at this time know that it was carbon arc, but I clearly recognised the quality of the light!) I went on to note that admission was £3 and thought that to be dear at the time! Some time later, I followed the same print from the Odeon when it transferred to the Studios, Oxford Circus and on the 5th October 1983 noted: “Previously unscathed print, now scratched!” I think their Westrex tower did the damage, I remember the closing sequence with the sunset having become marred by a rain of scuff marks!!

Ian on June 5, 2016 at 10:54 am

Actually looking at photos, could this plasterwork be from the even earlier Capitol Cinema (1925)? The 1937 Gaumont was a bit more streamlined. Perhaps the back of the boxes?

Ian on June 5, 2016 at 10:38 am

Two photos of the gutted auditorium taken in 2015 when the space was being used as a temporary canteen. Interestingly there seems to be quite a bit of plasterwork remaining from the previous Gaumont – possibly from a corridor, possibly the auditorium, it is a bit difficult to place!



theonlysbf on January 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I worked here for Bill Gibbs in the early 1980s as we were installing new lighting and sound equipment, the box was a bloody mess with Bill always tinkering. We ran a cleaned version of fantasia in 35mm, magnetic 4 track, for god knows how long mainly to empty houses, Disney persisted. There were 3 vic 10’s with carbon arcs I think we were the last in the west end to be running them to real skill to keep the light right. I remember Andy who went off to Germany, Ron who went over to Leicester Square theatre, and George who went off to be a bus driver but kept coming back on his day off. I was just 20 and it interfered with my social life I packed it all in and got a proper job, but it does bring back fond memories if you remember drop me a line

SethLewis on July 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm

One of the few cinemas I have ever been turned away from twice for technical difficulties – a flood once on a Sunday night for Glengarry Glen Ross and on another occasion for Ramblin Rose…for a class cinema they had a hard time maintaining it…still saw A Private Function on first run exclusive here,Bob Roberts, Glengarry, Reversal of Fortune, Woody Allen’s Alice, The X Files day dating with Leicester Sq

glyn_lewis on July 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Hello, Ranwell. The Odeon Haymarket closed January 2000. And “Regeneration” opened 21 11 97, though it may have played into 1998. Not specified above, the cinema opened as the Capitol in 1927. In ‘29 it was the showcase venue for Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” with sound! And in '41 the first run of “Citizen Kane”.

Lodgesound on July 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Edd;

Remember me? I recently removed the projectors from Lord Attenborough’s house as he donated them to the BFI where they will be installed along with their sound equipment at the NFA……

Even as I was starting the job I could see all the trademarks of a Bill Gibb installation…….funny how my life with regard to cinemas has come full circle in some ways….

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on January 29, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I saw a film there when I when the air conditioning was broken down,we saw the sign informing the patrons of the problem,we should have heeded it. I liked the cinema very much but we were just unlucky to have visited it at this time.

I’ve recently retired as chief projectionist in my hometown in North Wales,and having read edd’s remark that it was hard to work without a chief for six months. I started at the age of 15,and when the former chief became the manager I was on my own for many years,including running two machines (change-overs and all that)with carbon arcs,and I like to think I was very particular with the standard of presentation,and remember in a smallish town where most people know each other if only by sight,you had to face them in the street if you had suffered a technical fault the previous evening.

People could not understand how I could be called the chief if I was working on my own with no one below me.I was occasionally releived by the manager so I could go & see the local football team,to think there were three of us up in the box when I started.

scott99 on October 16, 2008 at 2:24 am

I worked at this place in the late eighties in the box office, which was pretty shabby. Rank had a policy of putting certain films on exclusive presentation there, on my first day When Harry met Sally sold out 5 presentations on a single saturday. Rank underestimated the power of Meg Ryan faking and orgasm, and it’s effect on the zeitgeist….The box office was dead shabby, and while the auditorium looked pretty, I remember the seats were made of really itchy material. They also had a problem with fruit flies, due to crates of empty tomato juice bottles from the bar. That summer the air conditioning broke down, but still they squeezed 500 people underground on a sweltering August evening. Loads of people complained and got refunds. I am not suprised it closed down. But it did have a lot of character, and you will be hard pressed to find a cinema like it these days.

Edd on May 11, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Hi Fred,
The use of the word rayne was a play on words

As many people know, Henry Rayne was a notable cinema engineer of the 1920’s and 30’s

He was most noted for his standardisation of procedures and equipment in British cinema projection rooms

Bill Gibb maintained many of these high standards at the Odeon Haymarket.

After Bill left the Odeon, to continue his work with Dickie Attenborough, we ran the projection department without a chief for approximately 6 months.

It was hard; however we persevered, and if anything, were able to maintain a high level of showmanship.

By early 1988 a new generation of management had taken over.
They were more interested in their ego than quality and presentation.

Less skilled projection staff were employed due to ignorant management (Apparently the new chief had only recently started work for Rank Cinemas, after loosing his job as a bus driver in Liverpool) Am I correct Fred?

Quality showmanship vanished as the standards were dropped to the level of the new chief and his staff.

This in turn led to a loss of patronage, followed by product and budget, resulting in the building becoming run down.

The rest is history!!!


Ian on January 1, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Two further exterior views from 1989 here:–

View link

View link

ranwell on December 23, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Can anyone tell me when it actually closed. Sad to see it go. Saw lots of films here in 70s Last saw here Regeneration in 1998, ironically what I would wish for here.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 3, 2006 at 6:38 pm

A view of the marquee and new ‘Odeon’ sign, photographed just after closing:
The new style Odeon sign went up on the building just weeks before closure! This is a good example of bad sign design as it can only be read correctly from one direction. Here we see it viewed from Piccadilly Circus with the letter ’D' reading correctly. Imagine aproaching from the other direction! A similar situation occurs at the Odeon Camden Town when viewed from the main Camden High Street the letter ’D' reads backwards….Ridiculous!!!

Ian on August 13, 2006 at 6:38 am

Another photo of the exterior whilst still open :–

View link

fp30e on July 23, 2006 at 11:57 am

Hi Edd,

This is Fred here. Re: The (first) user comment from yourself (above). Rayne is actually spelt reign?

Cheers Fred

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 20, 2006 at 4:28 pm

A colour view of the auditorium. Image by Bridget Smith – 1995:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 29, 2006 at 10:52 am

A b&w photograph of the auditorium taken on opening week in June 1962:
View link