Curtain finally goes up at St Albans’ reborn picture house

The Odyssey Cinema opens to its first guests - photo Sophie Crockett

The Odyssey Cinema opens to its first guests - photo Sophie Crockett - Credit: Archant

It’s been over a century since the city’s London Road cinema first opened its doors and promised a portal to a world of entertainment.

And hopefully now they will never close again following James Hannaway’s intervention which has seen the early 20th century cinema brought back to life as The Odyssey.

Lucky residents were given a sneak preview of the new attraction over a serious of nights last week, commencing on Thursday and finishing on Sunday.

Films shown to christen the new 23 feet tall screen included James’ favourite, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 80s classic Back to the Future, Cinema Paradiso, and Singing in The Rain.

The picture house has had a turbulent history, which has seen it threatened by fire and the possibility of becoming flats.

Paul Hurford, who was among those who went along on Thursday night, said: “What a privilege and delight it was to attend the opening night at our re-born cinema, The Odyssey.

“With its elegant décor, plush interiors and the best audiovisual technologies, it will be a huge success for St Albans. It would not have happened without one person: entrepreneur, showman and local hero James Hannaway.”

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The cinema is now closed until December 13 to finish off building work.

To coincide with the opening of the cinema a local author has released a book about the venue’s history and its journey to becoming The Odyssey.

Penny Dade’s ‘Alpha to Odyssey’ book begins in 1908 when Arthur Melbourne Cooper first opened the cinema, which was designed by local architect Percival Blow - also the architect of the Holywell Hill Seed Hall (now Café Rouge).