PUBLISHED: 11:39 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010
SIR, — My name s Odeon and I can be found in London Road, St.Albans. I was born in 1931 coming from a family of cinema in this part of the city that goes back even to a part of British film history. Being a product of the thirties, I have an art-deco look
SIR, - My name's Odeon and I can be found in London Road, St.Albans.
I was born in 1931 coming from a family of cinema in this part of the city that goes back even to a part of British film history.
Being a product of the thirties, I have an art-deco look with some Egyptian influence. I may not be out of the top drawer in style and pedigree, but I was considered to be worth a second look in St Albans and have become locally listed by the district council.
Up until 1995 when I closed my doors to the public and retired, I had played host to thousands of local residents. I'm told that I'm still held in much affection by many folk who would like to see me come back out of retirement. And I could if given the chance. While a covenant stops me being called Odeon again, it's said I could take on another name - Phoenix perhaps.
Planning applications and appeals have got me nowhere. Meanwhile bits of me have dropped off and my insides could do with a transplant. Old age has taken its toll as it does when you cut down on regular maintenance.
There's even been talk of some cinema benefactor coming to save me and give me a new lease of life like my cousin Rex over in Berkhamsted.
Which brings me to the present day. I was again put on trial at a council planning meeting on June 9 last. Once again the aim was to put an end to me and replace me with a block of 14 flats. This trial wasn't a pleasant experience. The jury was 10 St Albans councillors. I can't go into too much detail because it wasn't that easy to hear let alone follow all the proceedings. But I'm most upset at the outcome: I've been condemned to death. One of my loyal fans was allowed to speak up for me, but only for three minutes. Alas, the jury didn't appear to be listening that much.
Then for almost one-and-a-half hours they talked about me. One said I was art-deco rubbish and that no one wanted me back as a cinema again. That's just not true - I've got supporters and even a website of fans. My historical credentials were brushed aside by the same person saying St Albans suffers from this "imaginative cod history". What a thing to say for a council that states it wants to promote its history and heritage and encourage local distinctiveness. The council's Heritage Champion was one of the jurors and I looked for some response to this - but no.
And so it went on, and on and on. I was even likened to Colditz, something that really wasn't known about until a decade after I was born - and my present neighbours had moved in. As for my replacement, the flats. One person said they looked like a "container ship". How ignominious is that!
In the end my fate was decided by seven votes to three, although there was some confusion over the voting. I'm to be bulldozed and for what? Even that most ardent critic of mine had a view about that too saying the 14 flats won't actually happen because of the economic situation.
What a way to go. Pretty soon you may well be looking at a boarded-up site covered in rubble and weeds. A situation just waiting for some 20-something blockbuster to enter onto the scene.
Think of me when I am gone.
(With help from Eric Roberts).
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