Odeon Merrion Centre Leeds

Merrion Centre,
Leeds, LS2 8PJ

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Rank Organisation

Firms: Gillinson Barnett

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Odeon Merrion Centre

The Odeon Merrion Centre Leeds was the first cinema built in Leeds since the 1930’s and had the shortest life. It cost £100,000 and was notable in that an induction loop for the hard of hearing was part of the design.

It was opened as a ‘Roadshow’ cinema by the Rank Organisation on August 17, 1964 with Stephen Boyd in “The Fall Of The Roman Empire” presented in 70mm. It was designed by Leeds based architectural firm Gillinson Barnett. The auditorium was externally a very plain brick box hidden from view in the Merrion Shopping Mall service area. It had a stadium plan with a well raked auditorium entered at 1st floor level with seats above and below entry level. The entrance (seen after closure in the photo) was inside the Merrion Centre at 1st floor level adjacent to Morrison’s supermarket. It was closed on 17th May 1969 to be equipped with Cinerama, and re-opened in August 1969.

The display panel is now mirrored but behind the entrance doors the cinema remains intact. It closed on October 1, 1977 with a revival of "Gone With The Wind" presented in 70mm. This was after the Odeon on The Headrow/Briggate (former Paramount Theatre) had been twinned and just before the 3rd screen was added there.

A waste of a fine modern and comfortable cinema which has not been used for anything useful since and was gutted internally in 2019.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

cinemabuff on October 15, 2003 at 2:23 pm

this was a fine modern cinema for its time.I remember going to this cinema when I was younger than I am now. It is hard to understand why such a fine odeon cinema never proved a success. I feel sure even today the right company with the right programing could make this cinema work. what a waste of a fine cinema.

derek atkins(public relations officer mercia cinema society).

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 18, 2005 at 8:17 pm

An interior view of the stripped-out auditorium, looks in good condition considering it closed 28 years ago:
View link

chriso on April 29, 2008 at 9:21 am

Always a favourite cinema, it has now stood empty for twice as long as its use as a cinema. Its final years seemed to be obscure new films and 70mm re-runs to fill the Cinerama screen that was installed in 1969. Even when open it seemed to be Leeds' forgotten cinema, people either didn;t know it existed or they knew of a cinema in the Merrion Centre but had no idea it was an Odeon.

smoothie on April 29, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Special BBC Leeds 2006 feature here: View link

John Farrar
John Farrar on February 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

Some Roadshow dates:

FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (opening film 9 weeks) 17th Aug – 10th Oct 1964
IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (4 weeks) 1st Nov – 28th Nov
MARY POPPINS (11 weeks) 4th April – 19th June 1965
THE GREAT RACE (6 weeks) 3rd Apr – 14 May 1966
THE BIBLE (6 weeks) 12th March – 22nd April 1967
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (9 weeks) 14th May – 15th July 1967
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (9 weeks) 20th Aug – 25th Oct 1967
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (19 weeks) 17th Dec 1967 – 27 Apr 1968
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (10 weeks) 16th Dec 1968 – 22 Feb 1969
ICE STATION ZEBRA (8 weeks) 13th July – 6th Sept 1969
KRAKATOA – EAST OF JAVA (4 weeks)7th Sept – 4th Oct 1969
THE LION IN WINTER (6 weeks) 5th Oct – 15th Nov 1969
SONG OF NORWAY (18 weeks) 20th Dec 1970 – 24th April 1971
NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA (7 weeks) 26th Dec 1971 – 12th Feb 1972

bestontreasure on March 15, 2015 at 7:42 pm

I was a projectionist at this theatre for 2 years, the showmanship possibilities, were virtually endless, remote start tape recorder at both projectors, the dimmers were Electrosonic, took 30 seconds to go down and or change colour, they used par38 75watt reflector lamps, there were 200 in each colour, red, amber and white. The tab (curtain) cue was 40 feet on 70mm, we had three presets for the tabs as well, small W/S, big W/S as well as two for scope. The tabs were slow and graceful, to match the lights coming up, they also took 30 seconds to close. I only left because we started showing “Beast in the Cellar” and other blockbusters like “Blood on Satan’s Claw”, I knew then, that things were being engineered to look bad The best theatre I have ever worked in.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on February 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm

A wonderful cinema to visit and to work in. The projectionists, the chief and the 2nd John Ramsden were true showmen who took much trouble to find non sinc music to fit with the mood and style of each feature film being shown.

HowardBHaas on December 26, 2018 at 12:27 pm

article with photos of existing conditions showing remnants of this cinema https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/the-secret-leeds-cinema-inside-the-merrion-centre-is-up-for-rent-1-9466002

Tony Newman
Tony Newman on December 12, 2019 at 5:34 pm

The Odeon Merrion Centre has now been completely stripped out.:–(

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