My good friend Peter has directed me towards an article featured in the Guardian newspaper’s online ‘culture’ section which brings back memories of my childhood – spent in my home town of Weston-super-Mare.
We all went to ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’ at the Odeon Cinema where it was never advised to sit immediately beneath the balcony because the kids up there targeted you with their not-so-empty ice-cream cartons while you were watching Roy Rogers gallop to somebody’s rescue.
The movie house is closing – as the parent company says it is no longer commercially viable – but we don’t know what is going to happen to the building or its amazing Compton theatre pipe organ.
The British-made instrument and the building are both listed.
The organ – surrounded by illuminated coloured glass – literally rises out of the floor and was played for the last time on Sunday.
It’s all change in this seaside resort, but there are encouraging signs that some of its past can be saved.
Hopes rise for the old pier at Birnbeck – now let’s hope someone comes forward with a commercial plan to save this art deco building and organ which both date from 1935.
The instrument was the only Compton theatre pipe organ in an Odeon cinema outside London, and one of only two working theatre organs left in the country still performing in their original location in commercially operating cinemas, the other being in the Odeon Leicester Square in London.
A pity. But such an iconic building is bound to find a new use, perhaps spearheading a much needed Weston-super-Mare’s renewal. Margate has benefited tremendously from the Turner Contemporary art gallery, showing that cultural enterprise – not more retail – is the key to attracting a new generation of visitors to beleaguered sea-side resorts.
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