Oscar Deutsch’s cinemas were the most exotic architecture in many British towns. But the wrecking ball has claimed many – and is still swinging
Photographer Philip Butler has been trying to capture as many as possible before they disappear. “Unfortunately, since starting the project late last year, I have already missed the demolition of two former Odeons, and there are question marks hanging over at least another three,” he says.
“I may not be able to save them from their ultimate fate, but at least I can produce some fitting memorials in image form.”1
The cinema-opening pace accelerated after Deutsch met the architect Harry Weedon in 1932. Weedon had been in Birmingham making alterations to a factory run by Deutsch’s father Leopold and the cinema boss hired him to work on interiors for an Odeon in Warley, Staffordshire.
It was the start of a prolific partnership. They opened five new cinemas in 1933, and 16 the year after. Another 33 opened in 1936 – and the same again in 1937.