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For 67 years, the original Odeon cinema was one of Guildford's most-loved entertainment venues. It was located at the corner of Epsom Road and Jenner Road on the Upper High Street. The auditorium had space for 1,145 people in the stalls and 478 in the circle.
The Guildford Odeon opened on 13th May 1935. The iconic building was designed by architects Andrew Mather and J. Raworth Hill. Alongside the iconic brickwork and tall church-like windows, there were four white stone plaques on the outside of the building each depicting scenes of young couples dancing and kissing! Due to local council regulations, there were no neon signs and lighting allowed on the building. The first film to be screened was the 1935 Musical Comedy 'Brewster’s Millions' starring Jack Buchanan.
You could see anything at the Guildford Odeon, from 'An Evening With The Royal Ballet in Technicolor' to 'The Nightmare On Elm Street'. The programme even included special Saturday Morning Pictures and Midnight Matinees with films starting at 11:30PM.
"Remember selling kia-oras in my blue and yellow uniform and sitting on the steps of Screen 1 with my torch whilst Crocodilel Dundee was playing revising for my English Lit A level the next morning!" - Lisa Elston reminisces on the Guildford Past and Present Facebook group about her time working with refreshments in the cinema.
Lynda Fernandez worked in the cinema in 1969 and remembers "being sent up to Leicester Square Odeon to collect 2 reels- think it was a film that had premiered on Friday night and we needed it for showing on Sat night- I was only a slip of a kid! Remember thinking how grand Leicester Square was! Those were the days."
The Beatles Play Guildford Odeon
On Friday 21st of June 1963, the Odeon was visited by none other than The Beatles themselves to play a concert that included hits such as Please Please Me and I Saw Her Standing There.
The night was compered by Vic Sutcliffe and also starred artists such as Jimmy Crawford, The Vampires and The Hayseeds. According to the Guildford Dragon, the Guildford Odeon staff had to play the National Anthem over the speakers at the end of the performance in order to quieten the audiences' screams and make everyone leave for home!
The cinema closed in 1996 and the building was later demolished in 2002. Today the location has been replaced by commercial property and the Trinity Gate flats.
Video: Bryan Richardson was joined by David Corrie at The Keep Pub in Guildford to talk about his experience of managing one of Guildford's most popular entertainment venues for 30 years.
Thanks for reading "Cinema Manager Of 30 Years Looks Back At Guildford’s Original Odeon" on January Media.