139 New Street,
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Odeon Cinemas Group (Official)
Operated by: Odeon Theatres Ltd.
Firms: Verity and Beverley
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre opened on 4th September 1937 with Errol Flynn in “Charge of the Light Brigade”. It was one of seven Paramount Theatres built in major UK cities by the American owned Paramount Theatres chain; Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and London (Tottenham Court Road) were the others. The original seating capacity was for 2,439 with 1,517 in the stalls and 922 in the circle. It was equipped with a Compton 4Manual/10Rank theatre organ which was opened by Al Bollington. The Paramount Theatre had a large stage, dressing rooms and a cafe/restaurant.
On 25th August 1942, it was sold to Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. and it was re-named Odeon on 29th November 1942. In the 1960’s the Odeon was used for many ‘One Night’ concerts by pop groups, including The Beatles. In April 1965 it was closed for a period while major modernisation was carried out, removing most of the original Art Deco style decorations, and it re-opened on 24th June 1965 with “Genhis Khan” and a 30 minutes stage show starring Cliff Richard and The Shadows.
On 26th May 1988 the Odeon was closed for conversion into a six screen cinema, which re-opened in August 1988. Unfortunately, the Compton organ, which had still been used for concerts, was dismantled and sold. In 1991 two additional screens were opened in the former restaurant area and a former bar in the basement.
The cinema used to have a very ornate auditorium until it was altered. Now it is all very plain, including the foyer entrance. The last refurbishment was carried out in 1998 when an eighth screen was added. By 2013, it was the only one of the seven original U.K. Paramount Theatres still operating as a cinema.
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