Tim's One Photograph a Day

Twilight at the Bournemouth Odeon.

Bournemouth Odeon Cinema.

Bournemouth Odeon.

The Odeon on Bournemouth’s Westover Road.

This is a shot I have been after for a while. With time running out now, I am delighted that conditions were so good tonight. I had tried once before, in the mist, but that didn’t work out at all well.

In just a couple of weeks, this scene will be very different, as this Odeon closes in just over a fortnight. Sadly, it is being replaced by a new, purpose-built multiplex. Bournemouth cinema will never be the same again.

I remember this cinema well, particularly in the 1970s. Not the Bournemouth Odeon then, it was the far more impressively sounding Gaumont. Originally built in May 1929 as the Regent, with a capacity of 2,300, and one of the first to be wired for sound. It became the Gaumont Theatre in 1949. In 1969, it was twinned, as the Gaumont 1 & 2, in the former balcony and stalls respectively. It was in the guise that I remember it, queuing 4 deep up the side of the building, under the watchful eye of the suited commissionaire. The screen in the converted balcony was apparently one of the largest “cinerama” screens in the country.

In 1986, it became one of the last cinemas in the chain to relinquish the Gaumont name, becoming the Bournemouth Odeon. In 1989, the large auditorium in the stalls was destroyed, being subdivided into 4 small screens, numbered 2-5. In 1995, a further screen was added in the former restaurant area. Screen 1 still remains largely intact.

Three further screens were added to the Bournemouth Odeon family when they took over the former ABC chain. The cinema and name remained, until this was sadly closed at the beginning of the year. I missed the chance to photograph the interior, which was largely unchanged from the 1970s, although I did at least get to see a film there at the end of last year. When this Odeon closes, that will be the end of cinema in Westover Road.

The next building further along from the camera is the former Ice Rink, which was housed in the upstairs. Now a Fitness Suite, it remained empty for many years. The former ABC canopy is just visible in the distance. The new Bournemouth Odeon will be in a purpose-built building, combining with shops and restaurants, scheduled to open on 20 February. This has been built on the site of the former Bus Station in the Town Centre, destroyed by fire in 1976 and derelict ever since.

Such is progress…

Photograph Details

  • Taken: 4 Feb 2017
  • Camera: Canon 5D MkIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L II USM
  • Focal Length 24mm
  • F/14
  • 15 Sec
  • ISO 100

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