Paramount (Odeon) Cinema, Oxford Street, Manchester.

Paramount (Odeon) Manchester 

Oxford Street,

Manchester, M1 4PL


Original Owners:  Paramount Theatres (Manchester) Ltd.

Architects:  Frank Thomas Verity,F.R.I.B.A. & Samuel Beverley, F.R.I.B.A.

Original Seating Capacity:  Stalls- 1370, Circle- 940, Mezzanine 610.  Total: 2920.

First General Manager:  William Greenfield.

Overseen by Paramount’s Earl St. John.

Date opened: Monday 6th October 1930.

Cinema Organ Installed:  Wurlitzer Publix One, 4Manual/20Ranks. Opened by Charles D. Smart.

First film shown: “The Love Parade” starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald.

Date Closed: September 2004.

Demolished:  April 2017.


The Paramount Film Company of America had intended to build some fifty cinemas in the UK. For a variety of reasons this ambitious target fell well short.  The handful of Paramount Theatres that did materialise on the company’s wish list, Manchester was included.

It was designed by Frank Thomas Verity,F.R.I.B.A. & Samuel Beverley, F.R.I.B.A., known as Verity and Beverley, and originally had seating for 2920 patrons. There were 1370 in the stalls, mezzanine 610, and the grand circle 940. It was the first of the companies UK theatres to use the name Paramount over the canopy.

The balcony and stalls seats had plush backs and brown hide seats. The mezzanine seats were all plush. It was said that Paramount broke away from convention, the walls of the theatre relieved with figures and canopied cathedral niches, which added to the atmosphere.


A typical American idea was to place the paybox outside entrance doors. The main entrance foyer was flanked by artistically designed display frames built into the walls. This area housed cloakrooms, telephone kiosks and other conveniences for customers. Lighting that was concealed by the mouldings of the concave ceiling. The auditorium was decorated in a free treatment of the Baroque period. The mezzanine foyer walls were in dark red and silver. The balcony foyer walls consisted of a pale green tint. There was no expense spared and all flooring was covered in heavy Wilton carpet in a rich brown design.

The main ceiling was lit concealed lighting and treated in sky blue with a white cloud effect. In addition there were six thirty six light old gold chandeliers, 7’6″ in diameter and weighing half a ton each. The huge 50’wide proscenium front was in old gold with a hollow section in bright gold, illuminated by concealed lights. A four rank Wurlitzer Hope-Jones unit organ was a feature. The console was on a rise and fall platform. On the opening night it was played by the renown BBC broadcasting organist, Charles D. Smart.

Henry Croudson at the Wurlitzer 4Manual/20Ranks theatre organ.

Up in the spacious projection room measuring thirty feet by twelve feet were three American Super Simplex projectors, made in New York. These were installed in all Paramount theatres. The picture throw was one hundred and forty feet using Taylor Hobson lenses. The lamp houses were Hall and Connolly, and the sound system was Western Electric. The press said that it is believed that it was the first theatre in Manchester to install a Brenograph effects machine. The equipment was installed by Frank Brockliss Ltd through their Manchester manager Mr W Chilton.


Later to become one of foremost film producers within the Rank Organisation.

Overseen by Paramount’s Earl St. John, the theatre opened for business on the Monday 6th October 1930. The opening attraction was ‘The Love Parade’ starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald.

The Paramount Symphony orchestra, consisting of twenty four players and under the direction of Lionel Falkman gave a fine rendering of Tschaikovsky’s 1812 overture. There was also a stage ballet. At the time of opening there was a staff of 200 and performances were from 12noon until 11pm.

Following the performance there was a reception for hundreds of guests at the Midland Hotel and dancing was enjoyed until the early hours. Some Paramount theatres, including Newcastle, were taken over by  Odeon in November 1939. The Liverpool Paramount wasn’t taken over by Odeon until 1942. The Manchester cinema was named Odeon in 1940.

From Paramount to ODEON

In 1973 it went the way of many 1930s cinemas and was carved up into several screens, first as a twin, and ending up as a seven screen cinema in 1992. In 2004 it was all over for this magnificent building, having screened moving pictures for seventy-four years. It was considered for listing but had been altered too much. The building sadly suffered the fate of so many others. It was demolished beginning in April 2017.

Odeon Manchester – “The End”

David A Ellis©



click on other Paramount theatres listed below for their histories & photographs~

Paramount, Leeds.

Paramount, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Paramount, Liverpool.

Paramount, Glasgow.

Paramount, Tottenham Court Road, London.

Paramount, Birmingham.