TODAY (September 7) the Odeon cinema in New Canal, Salisbury celebrates its 90th birthday.

To coincide with this milestone a gathering was held in the Odeon which also celebrated the publication of a book telling the history of cinema in Salisbury.

Our photograph shows a reception of specially invited guests who included the Mayor Caroline Corbin, former MP Robert Key and Cllr Atiqul Hoque. Authors Richard Nash and Frogg Moody were also joined by Sara Richardson – daughter of Alan Richardson ‘the man who saved the Odeon’, publisher John Chandler, and family members and friends.

The new Salisbury cinema was completed within 18 months and on 7th September 1931 the ‘Gaumont British Wonder Theatre’ opened with showings (to a full house paying between 8d and two shillings) of The Chance of a Night Time starring Ralph Lynn and Winifred Shorter, A Yank at King Arthur’s Court, Micky Mouse’s Birthday Party and the Movietone News.

The Salisbury Times estimated that nearly 5,000 people visited the theatre during the day, and it was formally declared open by the Countess of Pembroke in the afternoon. The hall was also crowded during the evening, with its seating capacity taxed to the limit.

At the opening ceremony Mr Saunders of the Gaumont British Picture Corporation said that he thought the architect, Mr Trent, was to be very heartedly congratulated on his skill and conception, which gave them such a wonderful theatre. “There was not another theatre quite like it in the whole world” he said.

Indeed, retaining its magnificent medieval hall entrance and well deserving of its description as a ‘palace’, the old building had been converted into a state of the art cinema, designed with a Tudor theme, with seating for 1,687 people.

Let us raise a glass to this grand old lady on her 90th birthday!

Projected Passion – The History of Cinema in Salisbury is available from the Rocketship Bookshop in Bridge Street and the History Bookshop next to the Fisherton Mill.

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