Paramount (Odeon) Cinema, Glasgow.

Paramount (Odeon) Glasgow

56 Renfield Street,

Glasgow, G2 1NF


Original owners:  Paramount Theatres (Glasgow) Ltd.  Acquired by Odeon Theatres Ltd:  25th August 1942

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

Interior Decoration Consultant:  Joseph A. Nerini.

General Contractors:  Robert Rogerson & Company, Glasgow.

First General Manager:  Charles R. Young.

Seating Capacity:  1760 stalls, 1024 circle.  Total original capacity: 2784 seats.

Date Opened:  Monday 31st December 1934.

Opened by:  The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Mrs A. B. Swan.

First feature shown: “She Loves Me Not” starring Bing Crosby and Miriam Hopkins.

Cinema Organ Installed: Compton 4Manual/10Ranks organ console, played by Henry Croudson.

Opened as a 3 screen Odeon Film Centre:  Friday 2nd October 1970.

Date Closed:  Saturday 7th January 2006. 

Main final film shown in Screen 1:  “King Kong” starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black.

Main building demolished:  March 2013.

Facade remains integral to the new development.



At its peak of cinema openings Glasgow and its districts could boast over 110 cinemas. With an impressive overall seating capacity of excess of 175000 seats there were more cinemas per head than anywhere else in the British Isles. Many of these structures were either halls or shops converted into picture houses or crudely purpose built cinemas. Glasgow became of extreme interest to the larger quality exhibitors who could afford to build large luxurious cinemas showing first run films, many exclusive to them.

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, Glasgow was included, their only cinema north of the border.  A prime site was secured that occupied half a city centre block, bounded by Renfield Street, West Regent Street, West Nile Street and West Regent Lane.

The architects, Frank Thomas Verity and Samuel Beverley, were commissioned to produce a large standalone cinema/theatre venue; the likes of which could not be equalled within the city. They managed to produce an individual masterpiece in design with this Paramount Theatre. The general building contractor was Robert Rogerson & Company of Glasgow.

The bulk of the steel framed main building would be in red brick. The towering main entrance façade would be in white granite. A cluster of eight fins above the canopy framed the five two storey tall windows that followed the curvature of the corner line. The generous canopy gave protection to those queuing along Renfield Street.

Opening Night

Boro’ Signs installed large quantities of neon tubing that highlighted the sleek lines of the street facing building together with the corner entrance block and canopy. Numerous flood lights added even more luminance to this dazzling frontage topped by the Paramount neon sign. A further large vertical sign was placed on the side of the building.

The main entrance foyer was perfectly proportioned and set out with numerous art deco features.  Verity & Beverley had introduced a modernistic theme to the theatre’s auditorium, foyers, cafés and restaurant, maintaining a luxurious atmosphere that was associated with their previous, more ornate UK Paramount designs.

The circle foyer

The staircase leading to the first floor foyer and restaurant had a modern open balustrade that continued around the perimeter of the landing.

The restaurant/café.

The splendid tall windows were a feature in the lofty restaurant area. With quality curtains and carpets, Lloyd Loom furniture, stunning drop pendant light fittings and palms, that created a tranquil atmosphere for the 180 diners.

It was anticipated that this new Paramount was going to be one of the busiest in Scotland which reflected in the large seating capacity of 2784, consisting of 1760 seats in the Stalls with a further 1024 in the Balcony, Royal Circle and Grand Circle.

The ceiling in the auditorium was a mixture of large bordered rectangular illuminated recessed bays that were side edged with ornate segments of wave designed fibrous plaster work that rolled upwards, each terminating with a decorative panel at ceiling level. The walls at circle level were clad with large, slightly recessed panels that blended into the ceiling segments. The fabulous decoration of the entire building had been entrusted to London based consultant, Joseph A. Nerini. His striking yet subtle colour scheme was in tones of green, copper and silver continued throughout all areas.

The stage provided full facilities that included a fly tower and approximately 15 dressing rooms.  The proscenium was over 50’ wide. In the projection department Super “Simplex” projectors supported with Hall & Connolly high intensity carbon arcs had been chosen together with Western Electric Wide Range Sound equipment. Four Stelmar spotlights were also located in this room for stage show use.

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

General Manager, Charles R. Young, had been appointed to take charge of this important venue. Overseen by Paramount’s Earl St. John, the theatre was opened by The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Mrs A. B. Swan. It opened on Hogmanay, Monday 31st December 1934.

The “mighty” Compton 4Manual/10Ranks organ console, played by Henry Croudson, rose from the orchestra pit on a revolving lift. Two organ chambers were placed to the right hand side of the stage containing hundreds of pipes, varying in size from 1” to 16’, all helping to produce superb tones.

The Cinema Stage Producer for Paramount, Francis A. Mangan, had put together a presentation titled “The Volcano” that featured performances by Betty Ann Hagler, the St. Hellier Sisters and twenty four dancing Halliwell Girls.

The first feature film shown was “She Loves Me Not” starring Bing Crosby and Miriam Hopkins.

The cinema traded under the Paramount brand until a deal was brokered on November 23, 1939 between Oscar Deutsch and his rapidly expanding Odeon Theatres circuit and Paramount  to take control of the companies seven cinemas on 35-year leases. Paramount retained its London venues, the Plaza and Carlton.

Oscar Deutsch (1893 – 1941), founder of Odeon Cinemas, in his London office, 23rd November 1939. He is signing an agreement with David Rose of Paramount Theatres, to take over seven Paramount cinemas.

Now as the Odeon Glasgow it proved to be one of the busiest venues in Scotland for both film and stage presentations. As a key theatre within the Rank Organisation it was well maintained and enjoyed all the latest technical advances being installed.

Early 1960s photograph of the auditorium

In the 1960s artists such as Johnny Cash, Duke Ellington, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played to record breaking audiences.

The Beatles making their getaway from the Odeon Glasgow on 21st October 1964.


The 1960s

Entrance doors.

Entrance foyer.

Entrance foyer viewed from the staircase.

Upper foyer.

However, regular film business had waned due to heavy competition from other sources of entertainment.  A controversial decision was taken by Rank to divide the building into three separate cinemas that would provide more choice. The single screen Odeon closed on 13th September 1969.

Photographed shortly before the auditorium was gutted. c. late 1960s.

The lengthy alterations were extreme and affected the whole building. The live performances were ended and the Compton organ was removed. Most of the original Verity & Beverley Art Deco design was either destroyed or covered over. The white granite façade was clad with corrugated sheeting and a giant illuminated read-o-graph covered the windows.


Downstairs foyer entrance leading to screens 1 & 2.


Screen 2.

Screen 1

These extensive alterations took more than a year to complete. Two large auditoriums seating approximately 1100 each were formed from areas previously occupied by the stalls and circle.

Screen 3 formed in the stage area.

Even the stage area was transformed into a 555 seat cinema with a small balcony. The separate entrance to this cinema, to be known as screen 3, was located near the rear of the building. The main entrance, foyers and restaurant were comprehensively remodelled.  The cafés were walled off to become offices and staff areas. A bar was formed in the top foyer.

bar area created in the upstairs foyer of screen 1

The building re-opened as the Odeon Film Centre on Friday 2nd October 1970. The cinema was now one of the busiest on the Rank circuit. The three cinemas remained in place until 1988 when the large cinema at ground level was subdivided into three auditoriums with seating of approximately 220 in each screen. Screen 3 at the stage end of the building was divided horizontally into 2 further cinemas, giving a total of six screens that were now all accessed from the front entrance.

A Grade B Listing was placed on the corner facade by Historic Scotland on 29th March 1995. The main structure was not included, due to the aggressive alterations that had previously taken place. However, this did not deter the company that was now controlled by venture capitalists, from dividing the 1100 Screen 1, which was at the original circle level. In 1999, with the threat of the new UGC (now Cineworld) eighteen screen megaplex opening up the road, Odeon embarked on what was to prove a final refurbishment that included the alteration to Screen 1.

The screen seating count along with screen sizes are listed as –

Odeon 1- 555 seats (43’5” screen).                                           Odeon 6- 235 seats (26’ screen).

Odeon 2- 152 seats (23’ screen).                                               Odeon 7- 253 seats (27’ screen).

Odeon 3- 113 seats (22 ‘ screen).                                              Odeon 8- 252 seats (33’ screen).

Odeon 4- 173 seats (25’ screen).                                               Odeon 9- 222 seats (31’5” screen).

Odeon 5- 192 seats   (26’5” screen).                                         Final Total capacity:  2147.

During this refurbishment the bar was removed from the foyer area and the corrugated cladding and read-o-graph were taken off the corner façade. It was now listed in the Buildings at Risk Register.

Odeon sold the building in March 2003, although the business continued under a short lease back arrangement with the new owners while plans were drawn up for the site to be put to another use.

The Odeon closed on Saturday 7th January 2006. The cinema was stripped out completely. Several years later when numerous ideas were put forward on how a new building would take shape, the main structure of the cinema building was demolished in March 2013.

June 2018.

The façade was left intact and was incorporated into the design of a new building that was then built and named Reel House.




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

Paramount, Manchester.

Paramount, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Paramount, Liverpool.

Paramount, Leeds.

Paramount, Tottenham Court Road, London.

Paramount, Birmingham.