Odeon Cinema, Scarborough.

Odeon Cinema, Scarborough.

Westborough, Scarborough,

North Yorkshire. YO11 1JW


Owners: Odeon Theatres Ltd/ Oscar Deutsch.

Architects:  John Cecil Clavering, assisted by Robert Bullivant. Harry Weedon practice.

Additional interior plaster-work artists:  Eugene Mollo and Michael Egan.

Seating Capacity:  Stalls. 946.  Balcony. 765  Total capacity: 1711.

Date Opened:  Saturday 28th March 1936.

In attendance at the Gala Opening:  Oscar winning film star~ Charles Laughton.

First Film Shown: “The Ghost Goes West” starring Robert Donat and Jean Parker.

British Heritage Grade-II listed: 8th June 1973.

Date Closed: Friday 21st October 1988.

Present use: 2 auditoria venue: Extant.





Oscar Deutsch, founder of the Odeon Theatres circuit managed to secure this moderately sized site on the corner of Westborough, at the junction between Northway and Filey Road, Scarborough. Although it was to be situated away from the town centre, it benefited by being opposite to the railway station. It was one of the first buildings that holiday makers would see when arriving at this busy North Yorkshire seaside town.

A dapper Oscar Deutsch at an opening night.

The plans were drawn up by the Harry Weedon Partnership. The architects tasked to produce a building that would be part of Odeon Theatres rapidly expanding circuit were primarily John Cecil Clavering, assisted by Robert Bullivant. The Weedon Partnership had already designed several striking Odeon cinemas built in an Art Deco house style. Odeons were famously stylish and comfortable, catering to the increased middle-class respectability of the cinema, and bringing the idea of the ‘picture palace’ to Britain. Scarborough Odeon would be no exception.  Template drawings were adopted for sites where cinemas occupied a corner plot at the junction of two roads, and tweaked to local requirements.

The main façade was clad in buff faience tiles. A chunky tower incorporated a central fin with an eye catching full length vertical channel of red faience set into the apex of the curve of the fin, which at night was lit by red neon. On the top of the fin at Scarborough was a sign announcing ‘Cinema’ in bold lettering. The six storey, brick clad tower, housed a stairwell with a slender vertical window frame arrangement that rises from first floor level to the top floor. To the left of the main entrance and tower is a contrasting straight block section of four bays with a tiled buff faience. At ground floor level the faience tiles were black in colour, with two thin red faience borders towards the top of the section.

Sharply contrasting with the black faience, above were again buff tiles that complemented those on the fin and the main curved entrance. Within this block were large rectangular windows, diminishing in height from the first to the second floors. Above these windows was the main red ‘Odeon’ sign set beneath three slender horizontal bands of green faience, illuminated at night by neon strip lighting.

A deep, three tiered curved canopy runs in line with the curvature of the façade and pavement line. Four sets of entrance doors are positioned underneath the protection of the canopy. Each door set has a generous overlight window frame.

The main entrance foyer was of an adequate size and fairly typical of the Weedon design at other Odeon Theatres that were being constructed at this time. There was a café located on the first floor.

The auditorium was a surprising exception to the plain designs preferred by the company. The ornate plasterwork created by artists, Eugene Mollo and Michael Egan, was a prominent feature, not just on the two square side panels that were positioned near to the splay walls, but also faced three separate deep borders that progressed towards the proscenium.


Concealed lighting (facing towards the screen) was placed with good effect within these borders. The splay walls had delicate stencilled designs. The proscenium, although generous in width and height did not frame a full working stage, restricting the entertainment to film presentation.

A twin illuminated recessed trough was set centrally in the ceiling above the balcony providing defused lighting.  The plain vertical corrugated design of the front edge of the balcony contrasted with the ornateness of the Mollo & Egan plasterworks. The original stalls area seated 946 patrons; a further 765 were accommodated in the balcony, with an overhaul capacity of 1711 seats.

Walls surrounding the stalls area were full length veneer boarding set in two tone horizontal strips. The quality carpets, seats and soft furnishing were taken from the Odeon house brand designs, overseen by Lillian Deutsch, “the charming wife of the Chairman of Odeon Theatres (Scarborough) Ltd, Oscar Deutsch”.

Lillian Deutsch

The Grand Gala opening of Scarborough Odeon took place on Saturday 28th March 1936.


centre back-row~Oscar Deutsch.   L~R front-row~ Lillian Deutsch, Charles Laughton and Eliza Laughton.

Among the civic dignitaries and company executives attending this glittering evening were Oscar Deutsch and his wife who had invited local film star Charles Laughton, his mother, Eliza and his brother. Oscar winning Charles was born at the nearby Victoria Hotel which was owned by his parents.

Charles Laughton with his mother and brother, photographed in the foyer of the Odeon Scarborough at its opening.


The first film shown to the capacity audience was “The Ghost Goes West” starring Robert Donat and Jean Parker.

The cinema enjoyed brisk business during the heyday of cinema, benefiting by being part of the large Odeon Theatres circuit.  Like most seaside town cinemas, the summer season was vital to swell the coffers to keep the cinema profitable in winter months. As the general decline of UK audiences started in the early 1950s, Cinemascope was quickly installed. Although this helped, the Scarborough Odeon began to slip back in attracting patrons through its doors. The business during the 1960s & 70s could be described as respectable. It was rumoured that the building maybe inline to be turned into a multi-screen Film Centre.  The building was quickly granted a Grade-II listed status on 8th June 1973. This gave it a degree of protection from alteration. However, when a planning application for extra screens was rejected on the grounds of this listing, the Rank Organisation decided to close the single screen Odeon on Friday 21st October 1988, reasoning that the cinema was no longer viable without the additional revenue from the extra screens.

After lying derelict for several years, the building was subject to an ambitious scheme by the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Their plans involved major internal alterations and demolition of part of the building. Despite the Grade-II listing, on this occasion the planning application was successful.

The Stephen Joseph Theatre opened in 1996 and comprises two auditoriums. The main theatre, which seats an audience of 404, is known as The Round.  A small cinema/ theatre seating a further 165 customers and is named The McCarthy. A restaurant and shop are located within the venue.

Business extant.