The Odeon c1960s

t15055A photograph of the Odeon showing ‘The Young Doctors’ initially released in 1961, Stockton High Street.

 

 

 

 

t15076I have taken a snapshot from a BFI.org video that shows the Cinema in Stockton High Street, it was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton to Darlington Railway in July 1925, the video is well worth watching in it’s own right. There are some interesting shots of steam trains from the beginning of the railways and up to when the film was made in 1925, the unveiling of the plaque on the ticket office is also shown in the film as well as the crowds thronging the High Street, the film has no sound but in true silent movie tradition it displays placards with relevant information. The film can be found at: http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-the-official-film-of-the-railway-centenary-1925/

27 thoughts on “The Odeon c1960s

  1. The original 1935 Regal cinema was purchased in 1944 by the Oscar Deutsch ‘Odeon Cinemas’ Corporation, a wider-screen was fitted in the mid 1950s, in 1966 it was demolished due to damage caused to its party-wall and foundations by the builders working next door in the Post office building. During the 1960s various alterations occurred in UK cinemas due to the arrival from the USA of new film projection methods such as Cinerama, Cinemascope and Panavison, these depended on block-buster film sales to be profitable. Due to the arrival of National TV, the British Film industry collapsed and it’s only offerings were the lamentable Carry-On films, or the Norman Wisdom ‘Mr Grimsdale’ – ‘Mr Grimsdale’ films.. The local cinema was no match for TVs Coronation Street, Sunday Night at the London Palladium or Opportunity Knocks, as a result of these tv shows runaway success many small picture houses shut their doors for good, or became Bingo Halls. National TV did do some good – it caused public houses to suffer a loss of trade, closed a hundred or so dog tracks, and altered Britain for good. One could argue that one day a week without TV would do our nation a great deal of good, or restricting its broadcast hours from 2.00 pm to 10.30 pm only would do even better. Because of similar sentiments to this, the Hays Office in the USA commenced Policing the USA Film Industry and introduced moral guidelines after several risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood’s image. Many felt the movie industry had always been morally questionable and legislators in 37 states introduced almost one hundred movie censorship bills. Hollywood give us years of great entertainment and for that we should be grateful. God Bless MGM, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Columbia and Paramount studios, they sure did brighten up life for millions who wanted to dream a little or to borrow a Dime. .

    Like

    • Bob, my Film going peaked by 1947 though there after I did see films in open air cinema’s where you had to wait until sundown before the film could be shown. It did remind me of Picture houses with Stars painted on the ceiling only there was no ceiling and the stars were real.
      One of those films was the Outlaw, the seats all taken standing round the walls and even some brave souls sitting on top of the walls, the most risqué film I had seen although by todays standards it would be classed as a “U” film.
      When we got a TV and my lovely wife wanted to watch soaps I always had something to do in the garden or garage, it was hate at first and only sight, I see the adverts of Chaos Murder Incest fire and storm and think to myself “this is supposedly real life” “where a war zone”?
      Two people on a bed in my day had to have at least one foot on the ground, now two people in bed is where I go make tea, standards have definitely dropped to where it all has to be seen rather than inferred, a bit like a Crossword puzzle where all the squares have been filled in for you.
      The Picture Houses did a wonderful job for our morale in wartime, we could enter another world free from the bleakness of war and a nice warm place to take our Girl Friends on cold winter nights if there wasn’t a dance anywhere.
      All the things you mention above did at least get people out of the house and talking, TV certainly knocked that on the head and now there are even programmes about people watching TV, I think I have lived too long.
      A thought, I am six years older than the Globe, they could refurbish me at much less cost??
      Frank.

      Like

      • Well said Fred and well appreciated, Thank you. I had a part-time job plucking chickens, geese and ducks, and worked 28-hours a week part-time for a Thornaby butcher cum egg-seller. During the school holidays I averaged about 45 hours a week. My earnings were handed over to my mother each week, and I kept 3/6d a week back for the picture house entrance fee. I had no idea that Hollywood existed, that writers were employed to write the scripts, and famous books were turned into films. I knew very few actors by name but If I did Alan Ladd was my Shining Star. Being a typical young person, I ‘ran’ to the pictures without knowing or caring what was on. I walked straight in, if it was a Bogart / Cagney crime film, or Western, that was fine with me, also Stan & Laurel, Bud and Lou, the Bowery Boys were O.K, but easily beaten by the Three Stooges: Moe, Curley and Larry (R.I.P) talkies and musicals was out. Maybe 3-times a year we had a new Johnny Weismuller “Jungle Jim” film came out. I recall this actor as the most famous of all the Tarzans, a person who when middle age arrived changed roles and became an African Game Warden character- a Jungle King who righted wrongs and could be relied on to kill a crocodile or two with nothing more than a blunt-knife and superb swimming skills. The Jolson Story was a crossroads film for the industry. And it was on our doorstep and easily accessed. Regards to all.

        Like

        • Nostalgia Bob a wonderful feeling, the times we had with the memories of entertainment as it was in the Cinema’s, The wonder of colour in mainly black and white times (Are we allowed to say that in this PC world), the Musicals, the glamour, I had large pictures of Betty Grable pinned to the lid of my ditty box, I listened and Danced to Glen Miller tunes and laughed myself silly at Loony Toons and other short fill in films.
          Last night the Apollo came on TV and had you taken out the bad language the half hour show would have been over in ten minutes, Why I ask, what is funny about bad language, I admit we all had to hold the laughter in when the DS had apoplexy on the square when someone dropped his rifle but that was the expression on his face not the language. I would have cut my tongue off rather than swear in front of a Lady, today I have been cursed by women for daring to hold a door open for them?
          Those wonderful places of entertainment in Stockton were our dream factories, we lost ourselves in the Picture, Gungha Din Beau Geste and those wonderful musicals, we would sing all the way home.
          Now it is Netflix, YouTube and Google at least I can watch what I wish to see and listen to music that has some tune to it. As I said Nostalgia, real life to us ancients.
          Do you think we should book up for Glastonbury to see what it is all about?
          Frank.

          Like

  2. I seem to remember reading an article some years ago about excavation work being carried out with the foundations of the Odeon when a foul smell was noticed coming out from the excavation work, and after an investigation of historical documents it was discovered that the site had been a mass burial site for victims of he plague. Maybe Frank Mee can recall some details of this incident.

    Like

    • Sorry Ben, the Oracle I am not, never heard of that though do remember some horrible smells coming from the River at low tide on hot days.
      The only Plague pit I knew of was in Bradbury Road off the Green at Norton, it is still there a green area with a huge Oak Tree growing on it. We youngsters played there and would frighten the girls living around there with Ghost stories.
      Jean Dent Elsy and June Robinson Ruth Edwards older than us, Sylvia Nixon Christine Pollard and so many others I remember.
      It had the bonus that the girls after the Local School Hall Dances made us boys walk them right to the gate which earned us a very chaste kiss before Fathers shouted “Get your selves in here” “Who is that you are with” where upon we did a vanishing trick.
      Holding hands sweetheart days, were they Halcyon days I ask, all my friends from that time had long happy Marriages mine lasted 60 years Queens Telegram the lot before my lovely Lady passed away.
      Frank.

      Like

  3. I was there the night that Kennedy was shot, they stopped the film and the manager came onto the stage to announce it.
    Strangely enough, my wife was also there that night, but we were both with different people!
    It was also the night that the Beatles were on the Globe.

    Like

  4. Odeon Cinemas was created in 1928 by Birmingham businessman Oscar Deutsch, his very first cinema was called the ‘Picture House’, following its success he opened more cinemas under the Odeon brand name. By 1930, Odeon Cinemas was a household name.By the time of Oscar Deutsch’s death in 1941, 258 Odeon had opened throughout Britain. Each Odeon cinema had a distinctive character, often having a unique and spectacular interior. In 1938 Deutsch sold his Odeon cinema chain to the interests of J. Arthur Rank, who was in the process of forming the Rank Organisation. In addition to the Odeon chain, the Rank Organisation also purchased Gaumont cinemas in 1941. During the pre-war era, Odeon – Gaumont Cinemas developed or acquired many smaller cinemas across the country, eventually owning 343 properties. Many of these cinemas had a theatre organ for musical entertainment before the show, or during the intervals between films.

    J. Arthur Rank, born in Hull, UK, was a wealthy industrialist through his father’s flour milling business Joseph Rank (Flour) Ltd, when he made his somewhat unlikely start in film-making. From modest origins, the Rank company grew quickly, largely through acquisition. Significant purchases included: 1938 Odeon Cinemas, 1939 – Denham Film Studios, Paramount Cinemas, 1941 – Purchase of the Gaumont Picture Corporation 251 cinemas.

    Like

    • Bob I always knew it as the REGAL until it was rebuilt in 1968 as the ODEON. many of the Theatres in Stockton were rebuilt a couple of times including the money pit Globe, that was rebuilt and opened in 1935 although I was only six at the time we went there to see a film, I think it was a Saturday Matinee but could be wrong it may have been first house showing. From then we went to live shows pantomimes and Pictures.
      The Regal Organ always fascinated me, for me it was the high light of the night and although I was learning Piano wanted an organ, Dad said he would build one in the Stables but had to shoot the horses first, I declined the offer but did get a three manual Yamaha with all the bells and whistles much later in life, now I am back to the Piano having worn out the organ.
      Stockton in my youth had everything Cinemas, Dance Halls Live shows at the Hippodrome though of course we only had radio for home entertainment everything was outside the home apart from Mother taking all my pocket money off me at Rummy on winter nights.
      That Stockton is full of memories mostly good and of people long gone, Stockton today as would be expected is a different place, my grandchildren love it as I did in my time, change happens as they say.
      Frank.

      Like

      • Frank, I always knew it as the Odeon, never the Regal. It was my mothers favourite cinema, I recall the organ and organist, who whilst playing the organ, bounced up and down on his seat, when the musical interlude ended this huge organ was lowered into the pit below. During the 1950s cinema film intermissions you could order then tea and biscuits to be served to you in your seats, I can remember it being served on a tray and my mother balancing this tray on her knees. I recall in the mid-1950 the Odeon was gutted and remodelled, and a wider screen and better loud speakers installed, after the refit the first film shown was I think ‘The Man from Laramie’ starring James Stewart, who was looking for the men selling guns to the Indians, in one scene he got held down by two other desperados and shot in his gun hand by the baddie. A scene that most of us will always recall with anger. When this great western opened the theme song “The Man from Laramie” rung out (sung by Al Martino) it was incredible how well it sounded. An extra in this film was the ever so famous Jack Elam, him with the leery eye who must hold the worlds record for being either shot, hurt or wounded in every film he appeared in. Years later I was driving from Seattle to Houston and drove past the crossroads for the town of Laramie, Wyoming. Because of this film, I was sorely tempted to make the detour. I agree with you about Stockton on Tees, like racing pigeons we humans get imprinted from birth about where we ‘home to and belong and it never leaves us. Regards: Bob.

        Like

      • Frank are you saying that you called it the Regal although it was the Odeon. As a child in the late 40’s early 50’s we went to the children’s Saturday morning shows and at that time it was known as the Odeon children’s cinema club.

        Like

        • Bob,
          Frank is correct, it was the Regal during the war though I can’t remember when it changed after that to the Odeon. During the war lots of young lads stood outside and asked the Canadian airmen going in to take us in as it was an A classification, also hoping they would pay for us to go in as well, which they always did. They were based at Goosepool, now Teesside Airport

          Like

        • Two Bobs, sounds like the price of the circle ticket although the Regal Odeon did not have a circle.
          It would seem we were often influenced by our Parents, Dad called it the Regal and it stuck although I believe it was renamed Odeon some time after the war.
          The Empire Cinema (remember that) was to me always the Castle, the Plaza was the Grand or more often the Flea Pit.
          Dad Loved live theatre so I got dragged to the Hippodrome first house a more subdued presentation or so I was told, I believe it got much more shall we say saucy after eight.
          The Empire put on live shows in my early years but if Mother was with us it had to be the Modern, Globe or Regal to her more selective, saying that the Plaza did get a bit noisy at times.
          One thing to note during the War the Cinema’s always seems to be full and nor rattling of sweet papers Rationing and Pop Corn had not been invented although watching the screen could often be through a smoke screen as I was the only none smoker in the place.
          Travelled widely Bob but when I got to Thirsk by train car or plane even I relaxed, I was home, never wanted to live anywhere else.
          Stockton with its close packed street housing, smelly at times river and dilapidated Town Centre after the war has evolved into a lovely green area. Travelling around by car these days down tree lined roads with lovely green open spaces, the renewed river side and clean up my thoughts are we are lucky people us Stockton Folk.
          Frank

          Like

        • I started going to the Odeon in the fifties and it was the Odeon then in the first photo it says the film was showing in 1961 and the Odeon sign is clearly visible on the front it was a really lovely picture house

          Like

  5. The manager of the Odeon Theatre in Stockton was Bernard Goldthorpe. He sometimes appeared in the foyer in evening dress.

    Like

  6. I worked at the Odeon as a projectionist 1955 to 1965. I have been looking for people who worked there at the time, it was a great cinema, some great movies, and very busy, it was great times, such a pity that it is no longer there. Last I heard it had been bought by the council, does anyone know what they plan to do with it?

    Like

    • Malcolm, It hasn’t been a Cinema for a number of years. But the Council may well own the Land/Building that the Odeon stood on. It’s been a night club type of venue for quite a while. I didn’t know the Council owned it.

      Like

    • Current plans are to build a car park and a ‘pocket park’ there. From the Gazette:

      ‘Cllr Nigel Cooke, Stockton Council’s cabinet member said “big, ugly buildings” like the former Post Office and the Glam nightclub were “never going to interest” new occupants.

      “They face right onto the high street and rather than leaving them standing empty we want to flatten them and put the site to better use,” he added.’

      Personally I think should flatten Pearl Assurance House too and maybe the buildings down Yarm Lane to the Garrick and make use of the whole part. You’d lose a couple of period fronts which is a shame but that row has been ugly takeaways and taxi companies for years.

      Like

    • Malcolm, my father Benny Brown worked there as the odd job maintenance man about this time, after retiring from the British Titan as a Joiner, He was very happy after years of work in a Chemical Plant with all he poisons and acids etc, they had to put up with , I remember as a kid Dad coming home with half a shirt on his back after a acid spill at work. Very bad working conditions in those days at Brutish Titan so the Odeon was a little bit of Paradise for him.

      Like

  7. The Odeon was quite a swish place to see a picture. I think it was expensive and I’m sure they had a restaurant on the 2nd floor I took my girl-friend there once for a birthday treat then went on to watch the movie.

    Like

    • I worked at the Odeon as a projectionist 1955 to 1965 great times. Does anyone know what is happening to the building now?

      Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.