Odeon Kensington

The Odeon Kensington started out life in 1926 as The Kensington and then renamed the Majestic in 1940 (in case German parachutists dropped in and used it to identify where they were) Its then-revolutionary architecture - a smart, portal-like opening, designed by Julian Randolph Leathart and W.F. Granger (the first of their four cinemas for Joseph Mears' small London circuit) was a deliberate attempt to move away from the fairground origins of cinema and give cinemagoing a new respectability. However, the austere building lacked the exuberance of mid-thirties cinema designs and (deliberately) left no room for film publicity.

The Rank circuit took over the Majestic in 1944 and re-opened it as an Odeon. It was tripled in 1976 and later sub-divided still further.

Appearing in the press every now and again for no better reason than being the late Michael Winner's local - he had an arrangement with the management where he donates money to charity each year and in return receives free pick 'n' mix whenever he visits - the Odeon Kensington is repeatedly threatened with closure. Described by Winner as "a wonderful piece of cinema architecture", the cinema's original Art Deco interior unfortunately (probably) does not remain intact, which prevents English Heritage from listing the building for preservation. The Cinema Theatre Association suggests that some original features may be hidden away behind false walls and ceilings.

Website: 
Location: 
Current or most recent chain: 
Previous chains: 
Date visited: 
2006
Sources: 

Cinemas In Britain by Richard Gray (ISBN 0-85331-685-6).

London Evening Standard (and London Metro) via Find Articles

"Stagedoor" (Flickr user)) has some photographs dated 1989 including one taken above the suspended ceiling, showing the original barrel-vaulted ceiling intact.

Previous names: 
Kensington
Majestic
Recent images: 
Odeon Kensington 2006 - front
Odeon Kensington 2006 - front and side
Odeon Kensington 2006 - front detail
Odeon Kensington 2006 - side detail
Odeon Kensington 2006 - front detail
Image credits: 

Cinematopia