Modernist Chester

The last thing I expected to find in Chester on our trip was Art Deco buildings, but it was riddled with them.

Just outside the city wall, right where the clock is, lies this former Burton’s.

Burton's, Chester

Almost opposite Burton’s was an Art Deco (former?) Marks & Spencer which was so tall and wide I couldn’t photograph it. I also can’t find a picture of it on the web.

Further along the same road was what is now a night club or something (called Brannigan’s and Lot 76) but looks as if it was once a cinema.

Former cinema? Chester

Most strikingly, and inside the city wall, was the now disused Odeon Cinema. A great example of Art Deco in the fascist tendency. On Flickr I found these pictures from when it was still open. I particularly like the trianguloid columns.

Odeon Cinema, Chester

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Here’s a very minor example of Art Deco just opposite Lot 76.

New Look, Chester

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  1. Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 21. Perth – A Son of the Rock -- Jack Deighton

    […] interplay. It’s a strange mixture, though, of brickwork and white rendering. Both the Chester cinemas I featured a while back have features in common with […]

  2. Spike

    The Brannigans on the corner of Love Street used to be an ABC cinema. It closed down in 1994. Until a couple of years ago you could still see the stalls upstairs in the nightclub. Over the years a number of famous bands have played there.

    There were at one time about five cinemas inside the city walls of Chester. Some of these included the Odeon & ABC, there was a newsreel cinema on the grounds of what is now the defunct Woolworths, it was called The Tatler, there was the Picturehouse on Northgate Street, now Superdrug, there was a cinema in what is now part of Mecca Bingo at the top of Brook Street. All of them are now gone.

  3. jackdeighton

    Thanks, Spike, for looking in to my blog and for the info. It was suprising to see so much Art Deco in such surroundings.
    But cinemas were the Deco buildings par excellence.

  4. Durham 2 – A Son of the Rock -- Jack Deighton

    […] though and despite my experience in Chester last year, I thought pickings in Durham would be […]

  5. Peter Davies

    Chester’s complement of cinemas were The Glynn, The Regal-ABC, The Tatler (later named Classic (all 3 in Foregate Street). The Picturedrome (now Next) in Eastgate Street. The Music Hall (now Super Drug) in St.Werburgh Street/ Northgate Street. Gaumont Palace, and The Majestic (both in Brook Street), and The Odeon (the final one to close) in Northgate Street. Although not considered a city centre cinema, The Park Cinema was a short distance away in Saltney. All the cinemas had a rough ride through the planning stages to ensure that they were in keeping with the rest of the buildings within Chester’s boundary. In 1935 The Odeon’s original plans were booted out several times until the frustrated Odeon’s owner, Oscar Deutch nearly pulled out and then had to accept that the building would never be accepted in his usual circuit design, but then he produced an art deco delight, opening on 3rd October 1936 and that still standing today, thanks to it being Grade 2 listed.
    I worked at the last 3 remaining cinemas in Chester (Tatler, ABC & Odeon) and actually, as Technical Manager, closed the technical operation at Chester Odeon 3 years ago, being employed in these local cinems spanning almost 50 years- and still employed by Odeon!

    Peter Davies.

  6. jackdeighton

    Thanks Peter,

    The Odeon building is a delight. I wonder what was so bad about the previous designs that they weren’t allowed to be built.

  7. Rachel Cross

    Chester Cinemas – thanks to Peter Davies for providing that complete list. The photo on this site with “Lot 76” on it was the old Regal ABC cinema. One other building not mentioned was the “Cinema that never was” – a building just outside the city centre on Christleton Road, Boughton which intended to open in 1939 as a cinema but didn’t because of the War. It, too, is a striking example of Art Deco and now houses Auction Rooms. Have a look at http://www.bonhams.com/eur/chester/

    Chester Film Society is enjoying its 40th Season and will have the 25th Chester International Film Festival in March 2011. As part of the Festival we will be exhibiting a display of the History of Cinema in Chester.

  8. jackdeighton

    Thanks for this, Rachel.
    I missed the building on Chistleton Road, I was only in Chester for 18 hours or so – including sleep!
    It is a nice example of Deco, though.

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    […] It’s similar in style but not detail to the Odeon in Chester. […]

  10. DAVID A ELLIS

    The ABC Regal, Love Street opened on 30 October 1937 and closed in December 1990. It was left empty for nearly five years before becoming Brannigans in 1995. The Tatler, which was a few doors down, opened in 1936 as a news theatre, later going over to features. It became the Classic in 1957 showing features that were several years old. It closed in 1970 and was demolished in 1971. The Music Hall showed Chester’s first talkie, The Singing Fool in 1929. It closed in 1961 and became a Lipton supermarket. It was later a Fosters men’s wear, Reject shop and today is a Superdrug store.

  11. DAVID A ELLIS

    The Mecca bingo club in Brook place, which was originally part of Brook Street was originally the Gaumont Palace cinema, which opened in 1931. It later dropped the Palace, becoming just Gaumont. It closed as a cinema in 1961 becoming a ten pin bowling alley. Later, it became bingo, which it remains. Some say the Gaumont was Chester’s finest cinema. Brook Street had another cinema called the Majestic. This opened as the Pat Collins Cinema Deluxe in 1921. It became the Majestic in 1926 and closed as a cinema in 1956. It became the Majestic Ballroom and then bingo. The auditorium was demolished for road widening. The front part was retained and it went on to become a camping shop.

  12. jackdeighton

    Thanks a lot for this, David.
    It’s good some of these old Art Deco cinemas have found a new use. Was the Tatler Deco?

  13. jackdeighton

    Thanks again. Sounds like Chester had a fair few cinemas.

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