Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Simply Majestic

Sitting idly in the waiting room at Blackett's surgery last week, I spotted on the wall a grainy photograph cut into a ceramic montage of scenes from the Bondgate area. One of them was of the old Majestic Cinema, which later became the Odeon and is now occupied by Riley's Snooker Club.

The original front to the Majestic has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in town. The top photograph above was taken in 1951. Beautiful stained glass windows occupy almost half the frontage, painted brilliant white, which must have looked great when the five huge floodlights on the canopy roof were lit.
Opened on Boxing Day, 1932, at the height of the art deco period, the cinema crammed 4500 people in to see three shows on its opening day. It was the height of luxury and became the most popular picture house in town. The Majestic was one of eight cinemas in the town, where there were more seats per head of population than anywhere else in the country.

In 1943 it changed its name to the Odeon, which it kept until its closure in 1981.
At some point, unfortunately, the owners of the Odeon decided to box in the art deco frontage. They erected a number of vertical end-on planks of wood above the entrance, completely hiding the original frontage, which they had painted black, so that it was impossible to see it through the planks of wood.

Now look at it in the third photograph. The planks of wood are rotting and in some cases missing. Plants have started to grow out through the slats. It's a sorry sight indeed.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine, Cllr Dot Long. She told me there might be money available to fund the restoration of buildings like this. It is such a shame that this glorious frontage is hidden from view, yet with a little work it could be returned to its former glory and be a delight for everyone passing by.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. I was passing the other day and noticed what I thought was some stained glass. Wonder what it would cost to restore it?