Surely one of the most remarkable and outright spectacular cinemas in the country, the Odeon Salisbury shows both what can be achieved in cinema design and what twenty-first century audiences are missing in their modern picture palaces.
Built by Gaumont British Picture Corporation in 1931, it backs onto a fifteenth-century banqueting hall, which today provides the cinema's picturesque High Street entrance. The auditorium itself was therefore designed by architects William Trent and Ernest Tulley in a faux-Baronial style, with ceiling chandeliers and wall tapestries completing the illusion that this is a "Tudor cinema".
Even in terms of pure cinema history rather than its deeper historical context, it's a fascinating building as there are portions of the original 1930s build that are still intact, including the original box office, paraphernalia from a vintage fire alarm system, and, most importantly, a poster tucked away in one corner of the foyer that was placed there in 1931 by Gaumont's architects, giving a complete history of the building.
More recent subdivision has not robbed the main screen of its original flavour, but photographs of the complete interior (Odeon Cavalcade) show just how jaw-dropping it must have appeared when it opened.
Both the original baronial hall and now the cinema auditorium itself are protected by statutory listing.
Cinemas In Britain by Richard Gray (ISBN 0-85331-685-6).
The 1931 poster of the building's history (reproduced twice due to quality considerations) and commemorative placque:
1949 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
1972 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
2006 - facade:
2006 - rear of building, showing integration between 1930s cinema and fifteenth century hall:
2006 - interior:
2006 - original entrance and box office (now part of a fire escape):
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This page last updated 24th November 2006.