Friday, 12 July 2013

Local: The Odeon

This week's local post is a nostalgic look at one of Colchester's iconic building, which now lays derelict... although happily now seems to be "Under Offer".
The old Odeon Cinema in Colchester is a well loved local building (especially by those old enough to have frequented there as a cinema.

This impressive art deco building was built in 1931 from designs by Cecil Masey, and began it's life as The Regal.  It was initially a cinema plus more, with stage facilities and a Wurlitzer.  You can imagine it being a hub of the social scene in Colchester in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  

It closed its doors on 13 October 2002, and now no longer plays host to Hollywood Stars on its screens but is filled with pigeons.  In just 11 years the gorgeous building has gone from an impressive piece of the town to a rapidly crumbling sad pile of bricks.  
Personally, I would love to see this building used again, brought back to life- as I know most of the inhabitants of Colchester would do also.  Ideally the new owners would not just keep the facade but the entire internal structure, bringing the features back to their former glory.  And what would be even better (and is on our "when we win the euro-millions" list) would be if it was turned into another social hub for Colchester like it was in it's golden days.  Not a nightclub, but something which nods back to its former history, perhaps a music venue, a cinema (showing not just mainstream film, but old classic or even cult TV series), a theatre, with a small cafe and bar within it- even a  museum of the entertainments and social lives of Colchester's population.  Or if this could not be achieved an enormous indoor arts, crafts and vintage market space, with lots of different food providers each with their own unique and different identity.  A space to celebrate the town traders, not just global or national chains.

But all of that is hoping, so in the meantime take a look at some of these images which show the  direction this piece of history is currently falling in until it eventually falls into itself (courtesy of LostPlaces and 28DaysLater forum- each image links to the website it can be found on).  Colchester is town full of people and places which are full of ideas and enthusiasm, so I believe that soon this beautiful building will come back in to its own- when the right plan, person and most importantly money come together.

You can find more about the plans for the old Odeon here.  Sources used for the history the building were LostPlaces, Colchester Historic Buildings Forum and 28 Days Later forum

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