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The Orpheum Theatre, Finchley Road, Golder's Green, London

Later - The Odeon Cinema

See Also in this Area - The Golder's Green Hippodrome

The Orpheum Theatre was situated on the Finchley Road between Golder's Green and Finchley. The Theatre was designed by the architects Yates, Cooke and Darbyshire and opened on the 11th of October 1930 with a showing of the film 'Condemned'. Built as a Cine / Variety Theatre it had a large stage, 40 feet deep by 35 feet wide at the proscenium, and was equipped with ten dressing rooms for artistes. The Theatre, which could seat 3,000 people, also had a cafe for its patrons and was equipped with a Compton 3Manual Theatre Organ which was played by Lewis Gerrard on its opening.

The Bioscope reported on the new Theatre in their November the 12th 1930 edition saying:- 'One of the major attractions at the Orpheum, Golder's Green's new 3,000-seater, is the elaborate stage show incorporated in each week's programme. General manager Wilson Speakman has at his disposal one of the finest stages in London, complete with a one-man counter-weighting system of 38 lines, a very fine lighting installation and an orchestra 24 strong. With these and a number of extraneous first-class vaudeville attractions he is able to build up a presentation lasting about three-quarters of an hour, and he has succeeded in inducing patrons to flock to his house from a very wide area...

One of the stage attractions at the Orpheum, Golder's Green, is the house orchestra, directed by Kottaun. The elegant draperies form an effective background for this popular 'turn' - From The Bioscope November the 12th 1930.

Above - One of the stage attractions at the Orpheum, Golder's Green, is the house orchestra, directed by Kottaun. The elegant draperies form an effective background for this popular 'turn' - From The Bioscope November the 12th 1930.

...A typical Wilson Speakman show was that given on Monday last. First of all he put his orchestra on to the stage, and for ten minutes the audience was regaled with tuneful selections, the music being backed up by clever play with the lighting effects and draperies. This part of the programme was elaborately and very effectively put over, and the various items were enthusiastically received. The orchestra was followed by several clever turns, which gave an opportunity to demonstrate the facile manner in which flies and curtains could be handled. The presentation was concluded by further selections from the orchestra, playing this time from the well, play with the lighting on the closed tableau curtains giving a happy finishing touch.'

The above text in quotes, and the accompanying image, was first published in 'The Bioscope', November the 12th 1930.

The Theatre was taken over by ABC in 1932, and then acquired by County Cinemas two years later in March 1934, who would themselves be taken over by Odeon Theatres in 1937, although the Theatre was not renamed The Odeon until 1945.

The Orpheum Theatre was used primarily as a Cinema from the beginning but it did also stage a large variety of live stage shows including regular productions of Ralph Reader's 'Gang Shows', touring productions, and annual pantomimes. The Theatre was even graced by a Royal visit when the Queen attended one of the Gang Shows there in 1972.

Considered too large and too far away from anywhere by the 1970s, Odeon eventually closed the Theatre on the 27th of April 1974. The building then remained empty and derelict for many years until it was eventually demolished in May 1982. A photograph of the Theatre being demolished can be seen here. The site was then used for the construction of an apartment building.

Some of the information for this Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Trasures Website where you can also see some photographs of the Orpheum Theatre here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

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