Odeon Kemp Town, c1940, following reconstruction
After the bomb.
Photo courtesy of Brighton & Hove Royal Pavilion and Museums
40 St George's Road, Kemp Town, Brighton
1933 February 24 Planning application is made by Odeon Theatres Ltd for a site (across Paston Place from St George's Church) that was formerly the Sassoon family riding school and stables. Another site at Moulsecoomb was also being considered.
1934 February 1 Opened by Sir Harry Preston and designed by Andrew Mather. This is the first Odeon in Brighton, built at the low cost of £7,838, and one of the first few in the country. (Within two months, Oscar Deutsch, the founder of the Odeon chain, is involved in opening the ROTHBURy in Portslade but soon withdraws there.) The screen is positioned on the long wall of the auditorium, which is tiered in two sections without a balcony overhang; 958 seats, of which 556 are in the lower front section and 402 in the raised rear section. British Thomson-Houston sound system. The opening film is Cuckoo in the Nest (starring Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn). Variety acts included on Fridays.
1940 September 14 3.30pm Four children and two adults in the cinema are killed and 20 others injured when the balcony collapses during an air-raid that severely damages the building. In the surrounding area 49 more people die. A Luftwaffe Dornier, isolated from its squadron and being pursued by a Spitfire, drops its bomb load, two of which hit the cinema. In the surrounding area 46 more people die and 85 are injured. This incident accounts for just over a quarter of all death from air raids in Brighton during the war.The surviving staff are later taken for a day trip to Denham Studios during filming of Major Barbara, starring Rex Harrison and the film debut of Deborah Kerr.
1947 900 seats; prices 1s-2s 3d, continuous performances, booked in London
1953 Prices 1s 6d-3s 1d.
1957 Prices 1s 10d-3s 3d.
1960 November 5 Cinema closed. Last film: Light Up the Sky.
• Used for bingo from 1962, then from 1983 as a social centre called The City until it was demolished in January 1986. Cavendish Court stands on the site.
• A personal account of the bombing of the cinema can be found on the My Brighton & Hove website.
Brighton cinema directory
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