The grand, maritime inspired art deco architecture of The Odeon cinema on the corner of Highland Road and Festing Road made it one of the most striking buildings in both the city and the south coast. The cinema was opened in 1937 and was the height of luxury at the time, built to accommodate 1,700 customers with ample leg room plus a grand foyer and balconies. It later changed it’s name to the Salon in 1977 and in 1981 was changed to two screens. Like many smaller cinemas at the time the cinema was hit hard by the growth of home video and sadly closed in 1985 and then demolished. The space where the cinema was located is now part of the grounds of Craneswater Junior School. A real pity such a beautiful cinema such as this was not saved as old cinemas have been in other towns and cities such as The Dome in Worthing.
The photos below show the exterior and the interior and they belong to Portsmouth City Council and the John Maltby collection, which belongs to English Heritage.
23 Comments to Vintage Portsmouth: The Odeon Cinema in Southsea
I vividly remember my mum’s aunt taking me along to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture when I was 8 and when it was called the Salon, sitting in the front row of the balcony seats, and experiencing incredible vertigo as the Enterprise made its way through the inside of V’ger.
I saw my first films there – Pete’s Dragon, one of the Herbie films, Space Cat (scared the hell out of me, as did 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea). There was something of a campaign to preserve the facade when the cinema closed, but it came to nothing. Glad to see the Odeon at North End has been kept as it is.
The Co-Op round the corner in Albert Rd used to be a cinema, as you can probably tell from the shape of the building. That was before my time – it was a Fine-Fare supermarket by the time I was going to the Odeon/Salon but I’m told there is quite a bit of cinema left “behind the scenes” – maybe something for you to investigate in the future?
Cool photo’s. My uncle (Jack Nicholas) was a projectionist at the Odeon Southsea, in the early 1940′s during world war 2.
Also my dad (Fred Nicholas) used to work at the Odeon Southsea, in the 1940′s and one of his jobs was to take the Pathe news reels from the Odeon to the Plazza Cinema at Bradford junction (that’s now the mosque and was a bingo hall during the 1970′s). It’s just around the corner from Priory school.
On a related note, yesterday (wed 8 jan) in ‘The News’local paper there was a photo of the other albert road cinema ‘The Gaiety’ thats now the co-op.
I remember Saturday morning ‘pictures’. Used to walk with my little bruv down the alley (by the side of Mumms). Chaos ensued ….but it was just brilliant fun and no ‘trouble’ just pure enjoyment of the atmosphere, place and films.
We went to the sweet shop in Winter rd first with our pocket money. For the penny sweets that we took along with us.
I remember going to Saturday morning pictures at the Odeon, great fun, you knew the sort of film showing as the kids would be pretending to sword fight on the way out or using their coats as capes.
Went here to see the Graduate (1967) and were only a few minutes into the film when we had to leave because of a bomb scare, we all queued outside for about twenty minutes and then they let us back in to carry on with the film.
Such a long time ago.
I saw my first ever colour movie at the Odeon.
As kids we used to go and watch the Sat morning shows, Flash Gordon, Rin Tin Tin.
(I’ve never seen Rin Tin Tin since.)
I think the last movie I saw there was Battle for the Planet of the Apes, about 1974 or 75. We emigrated to Sydney in 1976 and I did not return for a visit to Portsmouth until 1994 and again in 2009.
A lot of changes, but at least the seafront still looks pretty much the same.
Fancy knocking the Odeon down, what do local councils think of?
I recall the Odeon Southsea with affection, it was also my local, just 5 minutes from where I used to live in Rochester Road. It is a tragedy it was not saved. With ref to the former Gaiety, now for the past 54 years a supermarket, I have been in that one quite a few times when I was a lad in the 1950s. It was quite ornate with plenty of guilding work on the plaster walls and barrel vaulted ceiling. The house lights were like big maple leafs or stars in amber and green glass. beautiful. My late Dad had a hand in desiging those. I have been after photos of the inerior of this cinema, but no luck as yet, if anyone knows where, be delighted to know. I did a local radio broadacst on our local radio station Express FM with Robin Kay The History Show, that programe at the moment is off air, on all Portsmouth art deco cinemas their wonderful interiors. Also as well, I did a exhibition at Gunwarf Quays Aspex Gallery, on the cinemas of Portsmouth in 2011, 4 of my scale models HAND MADE on display, these were, Odoeon North End, Criterion Gosport, Majestic Kingston Road, and my favourite cinema in all Portsmouth the Essoldo Albert Road Southsea. The Odeon was presented to the gallery and can also take a 7 inch screen dvd player, so a real working model cinema. If you go to the Aspex Gallery archives, you may see photos of the models I have made. All models are FULLY DETAILED, with stage, seating, clocks, projection room etc. Best wishes David Barber
This year we have changed the way we are compiling our 2014 calendar. Instead we are inviting entries of all themes all year round.
We will dedicate at least two of the months for images taken on Instagram. If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2014.
We will still primarily be accepting submissions via email email@example.com.
This year the calendars will be available from mid November from the Strong Island online store and Southsea Gallery. I’d also ask that you keep 14th November free from 7pm, we’ll announce why in late July.
This year we will again be supporting the Alzheimer’s Society as well as another local charity which we will be announcing very very soon!
Strong Island & Strong Island Recordings are very proud to present our 2nd year at one of the premier new music festivals, Southsea Fest and we are also very proud to be the first stage announcing this year too. We follow up from last year’s ‘Drunken Sailor’ event where queues of one in one out were formed within the opening 15 minutes of the stage starting and where our infamous stage was known for sweat dripping from the walls and ceiling while rabid mosh pits brewed…all in the early afternoon.
This year we have upgraded venues to just across the road with the upstairs of the Southsea Social Club where we have a few new ideas planned for the day while ensuring the same chaos and vibe from our label parties resume. To celebrate what will be Strong Island Recordings’ 1st birthday we like to think we have pushed the boat out this year with a heavy line up ranging from grunge, surf punk, noise pop to space math rock.
So we are really stoked to present the following who will be playing our 1st drunken, messy birthday bash:
Arrows of Love
The Black Tambourines
The Physics House Band
You’re All Smiling But We’ll All Turn Into Demons
A Spotify playlist of some of the acts can be listened to HERE.
We are stoked, as always, to be working once again with local artist My Dog Sighs on what is set to be one of the largest mural paintings in the city.
Rick from Head Hairdressing on Albert Road conceived the idea of having the courtyard to the rear of the local barbers transformed in to a permanent giant art piece. From precision multilayered stencils, through bubble gum cutsie to surreal illustrative mayhem, My Dog Sighs has hand picked his favourite artists from across the country to produce the ultimate street art dreamscape courtyard.
Head Jam will run all day so feel free to pop along, take a look, have a chat, hang out, meet the artists and enjoy the atmosphere. There will be music on all day, a BBQ turning over in the background if you want to stick a burger on (not supplied), and please feel free to bring along a beer too. Everyone is welcome, so bring the kids so they can see some of the countries finest street artists working together in this unique environment.
As you are probably well aware from reading the news recently, the Portsmouth Supporters Trust succeeded in their bid to take control of Portsmouth FC making it the biggest community owned club in the UK. It is a long and hard fought victory by the fans that have endured years of bad fortune, bad news and bad performances and a couple of the SI crew have seen most of them! PST’s aim is to bring about responsible, democratic representation at Portsmouth Football Club and so help promote the highest standards of transparent governance, accountability and embed Portsmouth FC deeper into its community through greater communication and co-operation with its fans.
We contacted the PST back in November last year to put forward our idea of doing a Strong Island PFC edition T-shirt to raise money towards buying a share in the club. The PST warmly welcomed the idea and we are pleased to say we are now putting our plan into action.
Strong Island is keen to get behind the trust as are many others. We’re going to pledge £5 of every limited edition SI X PFC tee sold towards Strong Island buying a share of the football club, therefore financially helping PFC in it’s aim to become stable again and continue to be a hugely important aspect of the city.
The design itself is a re-imagining of the common elements from the iconic Portsmouth FC logo from the 1980s and the Strong Island logo, with two swords in place, each dated with the club’s FA Cup wins. The Strong Island Clothing Co. items are normally hand screened in East London but for this particular tee they are produced literally just down the road from Fratton Park and will be at a special price of £15 (plus P&P).
No matter if you are passionate about football or not, we hope this tee is a way of showing support for a club that is now a beacon to the rest of the country for a city and a community that strives to work together for the better.
To pre-order the t-shirt click on the link below. Tees will be back from the printers soon and we hope to have orders in the post by the end of the month, if not sooner.
We are very proud to announce The Creating Balance Project, a new, collaborative project between Anglepoise, Strong Island & the University of Portsmouth to celebrate a design classic and local creativity in Portsmouth. The project aims to showcase the working studios and disciplines of artists and designers across the island and connect them to local photographers to capture, document and collaborate.
Anglepoise lamps have been given to each of the 10 participating artists/designers and the 10 photographers involved have used the lamps to light the photographs, give a sense of place and document the artist, where they work & how they create. During the collaboration sessions University of Portsmouth BSc TV and Broadcast students Massimo Marzullo and Jonas Jakunas have been documenting the project, producing short films for each collaboration.
Later this summer key images from each photographer will be printed and displayed with the films, lamps, photos and more in an exhibition in Portsmouth and one in London (TBA).
The collaborations are:
Andrew Whyte & Peter Clutterbuck
Matt Sills & Lorna Apps-Woodland
Paul Gonella & Tristan Savage
Russell Squires & Farkfk
Josh Knill & I Love Dust
Thor Haley & William Pounds
Rob Luckins & Roo + Barry Abrook
Cotton Candy & Neal Layton + Sadie Tierney
Matt Saxey & Deer Park Alpha
My Dog Sighs & Jack Daly
The project is progressing over the next couple of months and already two films are finished and many collaborations complete. Below are the completed collaboration films and we will be posting updates on The Creating Balance Project regularly here on Strong Island. To keep up to date with the project also please check the Creating Balance website where you can see loads of photos from behind the scenes of the collaborations.
It’s been a while (apologies) but the Strong Island Clothing Co. spring 2013 capsule drop is now available and online in the Strong Island Shop Ahoy store! The drop includes some brand new Branded tee colourways, a new grey crew (highest quality, carefully selected and sourced) and a collection of accessories including new beanies, our seriously high quality Branded iPhone cases (4 & 5) from Etch and our hand crafted, leather coin pouch collaboration with Raw & Auburn.
To kick this capsule drop off right we visited the home of Portsmouth’s Eberhardt signwriters and neon sign specialists. Eberhardt are a true creative business gem of the city with a very long history and still produce hand crafted, carefully designed neon signs, a rare and special craft these days. Check the photos below and the behind the scenes edit too to see more. Photography principally by Jack Daly.