Former Odeon Cinema, Castle Hill, Dudley
Image by ell brown
On Castle Hill in Dudley is this former cinema – it was an Odeon. 1930s Art Deco style.
The Odeon Dudley was built on a plot opposite Dudley Castle and opened on 28 July 1937. The cinema was designed by Harry Weedon and Budge Reid of the Weedon Partnership in the Art Deco style. The general outline of the design was used for many Odeon cinema including Swiss Cottage in London, Bolton in Greater Manchester and Loughborough in Leicestershire. The symmetrical design of the cinema is in a single, brick-faced block outside a steel, inner frame. Both corners of the main facade feature gently curved corners, the corners are distinguished by horizontal ribbing forming bands of brick that rise the full height of each corner.
Projecting from the main block is a faience frontage with subtly curved corners in cream tiles with prominent black faience bands. The frontage features five deeply recessed window openings, topped with a moulded canopy. Beneath the windows is a cantilievered canopy beneath which are five doors in recesses mirroring those above the canopy. above the window canopy, the five letters of the Odeon name are spaced to line up with the recesses of the window. Smaller letters spell out the Odeon name, this time vertically at the corner of the faience frontage. Behind this lettering, on both the left and right sides of the projecting frontage, are large un-tiled areas for film advertising.
The cinema closed on 22 February 1975, instead residents of Dudley could use the Plaza Cinema which a few hundred yards downhill on Castle Road. In 1976 the cinema was purchased to be used as a religious assembly hall which it remains to this today. When so many buildings of this age suffer from lack of upkeep, externally, the former Odeon Dudley appears excellent. The building was awarded Grade-II status on 5 October 2000.
On Heritage Gateway it was listed as "Jehovahs Witness Hall". Grade II listed building.
Also Known As: Odeon Cinema, CASTLE HILL, Dudley
Former Odeon cinema. Opened 1937, architect Budge Reid of the Harry Weedon Partnership. Brick, with steel frame; foyer block clad in black and cream faience. Double-height auditorium with balcony, reached via foyer and staircases.
Symmetrical facade to Castle Hill in Moderne style. Five entrances to foyer in deep recesses. Wide curving canopy above entrances, over which are five ventilation apertures. Five deeply recessed vertical windows at first floor level surmounted by moulded canopy. Brick rear wall of auditorium behind foyer block, with rounded and channelled corners. Pitched roof hidden. Single-storey curving links either side also in faience. Return walls in plain stock brick.
Wind lobby – five sets of original glazed swing doors with acid-etched decoration. Pay box in centre facing outwards. Wide entrance foyer with stairs at either end leading to balcony. Three plaster saucer domes in ceiling with concentric mouldings.
Large double-height auditorium splayed out from proscenium. Shallow stage. Ceiling stepped down in arched lighting coves, with plain segmental ceiling over balcony. Continuous plaster mouldings on splay walls sweep to proscenium from last cove above balcony. Moderne style ventilating grilles on splay walls. Continuous moulding over proscenium and flanked by wings studded with roundels. Honeycomb design fibrous plaster grille in ceiling cove nearest balcony and again at high level in ground floor rear wall. Original standard `Odeon’ style doors with streamlined mouldings over glazing panel in rear ground floor wall, right hand proscenium splay wall and rear balcony wall. Wide vomitory entrance at centre of balcony. An atypical feature is the greater number of rows (nine) in the front of the balcony compared to the rear (seven) – the reverse of the usual arrangement.
Included as an almost complete example of typical Odeon cinema of the 1930’s, with no subdivision of the auditorium or alteration of its floor levels. The Odeons were style-leaders in cinema design of the time. The Odeon became a Jehovah’s Witness Hall in 1976.
Ned Williams, Cinemas of the Black Country, p.147-9, Urlaia Press, 1982
Rosemary Clegg (editor), Odeon, p.155, Mercia Cinema Society, 1985
Allen Eyles, Oscar and the Odeons, Focus on Film No.22 p.43 & 54, Autumn 1975
Dennis Sharp, The Picture Palace, p.135 & 144, Hugh Evelyn, 1969
Francis Lacloche, Architectures de Cinemas, p.172, Editions du Moniteur, 1981
Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain, p.138, Lund Humphries, 1996
From what I saw, couldn’t tell if it was in use or not still.
There was a light sprinkle of snow in Dudley – was cold in this area.