Odeon Cinema, South Harrow.

Odeon South Harrow

337 Northolt Road,

South Harrow, HA2 8JB


Owners:  Odeon Theatre (South Harrow) Ltd/ Oscar Deutsch.

Architect:  Arthur Percival Starkey.

The first Oscar Deutsch cinema to be designed in Odeon’s House style. 

Date opened:  Monday 4th September 1933.

First film shown:  ‘Waltz Time’ starring Evelyn Laye and Fritz Schulz.

Final film shown:  ‘Cromwell’ starring Richard Harris and Alec Guinness.

Seating capacity: In the front area- 718. The rear raised area- 279 seats. Total capacity- 997 seats.

Date Closed:  Saturday 12th February 1972.

Building demolished:  1972.  Replaced with residential apartments. 




Oscar & Lillian Deutsch, pictured left, with two of their directors at a cinema opening.

Businessman, Oscar Deutsch and his wife, Lillian, had been dabbling in the cinema film exhibition during the 1920s. However, it was in his hometown, Birmingham, in the district of Perry Barr, that he built and opened the first cinema that was to be known as Odeon during 1930.

The first cinema to be named Odeon in Perry Barr, Birmingham.

A close friend had been on holiday in Europe and had seen the name used on cinemas there, he suggested the name to Deutsch that it would be the perfect branding name for his fledgling cinema circuit. With the name in place, he moved forward, opening successful cinemas. One area that he thought needed to be addressed was a house style that would identify his cinemas apart from the very ornate old theatre style of his competitors.

A site was secured on Northolt Road, South Harrow. This cinema was the first Odeon built in the London area.  Oscar Deutsch engaged Harrow based architect, Arthur Percival Starkey, to produce a building, both externally and internally that would be the anchor streamline design of future Odeons and the first that would have the cream or buff faience tile cladding that was to become synonymous with the Odeon builds that were to follow. This was the building which experts agree was the first to create and crystallise in the public mind the Odeon house style.

Starkey created a façade that was modernistic, taking up the space of at least a dozen shops. Described as “like an ocean liner that had berthed inexplicably on this Northolt Road”. The contrast between the cinema’s sleek facade and its red-brick suburban setting was both dramatic and extreme for the period. Set back from the two flanking blocks of shops, it had an attractive art deco themed auditorium and included a café. The long, low frontage, cleverly concealed the bulk of the auditorium building that was behind and ran parallel to the road.

The bay of five double entrance doors were placed centrally under an oblong canopy with the newly styled lettering of the Odeon sign that had been designed by Pearce Signs of Birmingham, placed up on high on the facade.

The long, stadium style auditorium was of a modest size, with no overhanging balcony. In the front area, it accommodated 718 customers. The rear raised area held a further 279 seats, giving a total capacity of just 997. The main ceiling was dominated with a rectangular laylight feature that was bordered with art deco designs. The walls were given the modernistic treatment with art deco fan clusters in panels. The proscenium was bordered in a stepped pattern that completed the art deco theme.

The first feature film screened.

The Gala Opening took place on Monday 4th September 1933, when a capacity audience watched the British musical ‘Waltz Time’ starring Evelyn Laye and Fritz Schulz.

Despite strong local competition, the Odeon enjoyed good admissions during the 1930s and 1940s. With the restrictive width of the proscenium, when Cinemascope arrived in the 1950s, the picture size was a disappointment. Challenging times lay ahead with the sharp drop in admissions.

Without sentiment for the importance of this iconic cinema, Rank Theatres decided to close the cinema on Saturday 12th February 1972. The final film shown was ‘Cromwell’ starring Richard Harris and Alec Guinness.

The replacement development that retains the two flanking blocks.

The central entrance block of the facade, foyer area and the auditorium were demolished, leaving the two flanking blocks of shop units intact and are still to be seen today.

Duncan House, a residential development for the elderly replaced the Odeon, South Harrow.