Chester Odeon~ lit and ready for the final audience on Thursday 14th June
2007 as Odeon prepares to leave the building~
It is somewhat ironic that as the doors closed on that final rainy evening, the building could not officially be referred to as Odeon anymore. Chester people, of course, will keep on calling it the Odeon as it has too many memories for them, and links to the heart of the city. When visiting Chester, chances are you will overhear “meet you at the Odeon in ten minutes”. It is as much a landmark as the Town Hall itself!
The nearest Odeon (at the moment), is a state of the art eight screen multiplex in Wrexham. The company is still opening new cinemas at a steady rate, and remains the leading cinema circuit in the UK and Europe.
Ross Lewis, who worked at the Odeon Chester as duty manager at one point in his career recalls“ I have always been interested in the art deco design of the earlier cinemas, and although the Odeon had been sectioned off into five screens by the time I arrived, there was still plenty of the original features and fittings to see which to me gave the cinema a uniqueness that could not be matched in modern cinema builds. I thought that Odeon One was very impressive in design, and without doubt was my favorite screen. I liked that cinema very much, and enjoyed every minute I was there”.
Ross began employment with Odeon at another cinema. He was intrigued with the technical operation. As well as working in his downstairs position he would be found in the projection department learning the skill of film projection in his spare time. Eventually he trained in general management securing a position as duty manager. However, he decided to follow his technical interests and was appointed technician, quickly being promoted to a senior technician position.
In fact it is significant that it was Ross, and his projection colleague Phil Barrett, who returned to Chester Odeon as it closed. The technical manager had requested that they assist the company engineers in dismantling and removal of all the projection equipment over a two week period. The original Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors which had been installed new in the 1960’s were shipped to Ireland. The rest of the equipment was put into company stores ready for re-use as required. Little was left in the projection rooms, other than some unwanted stands.