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article imageMagnificent 'old time' cinema proves popular in St. Albans Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 23, 2016 in Entertainment
Saint Albans - A cinema, originally built during the early 1930s and operated in the city of St. Albans, has recently re-opened and restored to its former glory. The building and experience offers an evening more enjoyable than the crowded multiplex.
The cinema is The Odyssey and it stands on the site of a picture house built in 1908. This building was designed by Arthur Melbourne-Cooper and it was called the Alpha Picture Palace. It was one of the first buildings recognizable as a cinema (or 'movie theater'). The cinema was destroyed by fire in 1927.
Restored  open and popular. The outside of The Odyssey  August 2016.
Restored, open and popular. The outside of The Odyssey, August 2016.
A few years later a new cinema opened on the same spot along London Road. This, a 1930s Art Deco inspired building, was called the Capitol Cinema. Later on it was renamed The Poly, and later rebranded as The Regent. In 1945 the independent cinema was purchased by Odeon, and it continued as part of the Odeon chain until 1995, when, coinciding with a downturn in cinema visits and facing competition from a nearby multiplex, it closed.
Darren Pickard (@darrenpickard) "Love watching films at the #odyssey in St Albans. Like watching a massive tv in your fav armchair while eating sweets and drinking Peroni!"
Gary Painter (@Withnail74) "Just been to The Odyssey in St Albans - stunning restored 1930s cinema. Glasgow needs an Odyssey!"
The building then stood empty, crumbling a little at the edges, for nearly twenty years. With the building facing demolition, a campaign was launched to save the building and slowly £1 million ($1.3 million) was raised to save it.
Even the carpet in the cinema carries the air of something special.
Even the carpet in the cinema carries the air of something special.
Following this the cinema was gradually restored to its former magnificence. The aim was to return to the glitz and the glamour typified by the 1930s era. This has certainly worked and visiting the cinema today is like stepping back in time.
The steps leading down to the screening area  designed to capture the 1930s vibe.
The steps leading down to the screening area, designed to capture the 1930s vibe.
Little touches  an Art Deco style lamp at The Odyssey.
Little touches, an Art Deco style lamp at The Odyssey.
The additional spending for renovations came to £1.5 million ($2 million). The project took three years to complete. The campaign to save the cinema was led by James Hannaway, who saved a similar cinema in the English town of Berkhampstead.
A seating area where patrons can relax before the start of the movie.
A seating area where patrons can relax before the start of the movie.
The attention to detail is mind boggling, but not all is old-fashioned. The cinema has a state of the art projection and digital sound.
Art Deco features restored  a scene of the stage and screen area.
Art Deco features restored, a scene of the stage and screen area.
The cinema has standard seating upstairs. Downstairs there are many chairs arranged around tables. At the back is a bar selling a range of snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
A view from the seats. A hush. A movie is about to be screened at The Odyssey cinema.
A view from the seats. A hush. A movie is about to be screened at The Odyssey cinema.
The name of the new cinema — The Odyssey — is a homage to the work of Stanley Kubrick, who lived nearby (that is the name is derived from Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey). The arts basis is captured in the program. The cinema screens a mix of recent releases, arts movies and classics from yesteryear.
This eclectic mix helps the cinema to thrive and to compete against the chain cinemas. The repertoire at The Odyssey is diverse, exciting and busy.
A view of the outside of The Odyssey  August 2016.
A view of the outside of The Odyssey, August 2016.
More about Cinema, Restoration, st albans, the odyssey, Stanley Kubrick
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