Richmond is a stylish area of West London next to the river Thames and it the location of one of the best preserved old Odeon cinemas.
The Richmond Kinema opened on 21st April, Easter Monday, 1930. The first films shown that day were Gold Diggers of Broadway and The Cockney Spirit In War.
It was built for the Joseph Mears Theatres circuit. It had an original seating capacity of 1,533 in stalls and circle levels, making Richmond Kinema the largest Cinema yet built in teh West London area. It was re-named Premier Cinema from 29th June 1940 this was to enable the removal of the Richmond name on the cinema, in case German parachutists landed nearby).
It was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. from 3rd January 1944 and was re-named Odeon in May 1944. Converted into a triple screen from 30th December 1972. Screen 1 in the old circle is beautiful. It retains the original Atmospheric style auditorium, modelled in the style of a 17th century Spanish courtyard. Its owners confidently informed the public that their intention was to “make this Kinema equal to any in the West End,” The front of the auditorium was modelled on a fanciful recreation of a seventeenth century Spanish Grandee’s courtyard, features included ornate grillwork, Spanish tiles, Moorish windows and an intricate system of coloured lights was projected onto the ceiling to create an artificial sunrise and sunset in the intervals between films.
Features include ornate grillwork, Spanish tiles, Moorish windows, even stone and plaster oranges and doves. Screens 2 & 3 are located under the circle and both have seating provided for 118. The entrance foyer plasterwork depicts all the various trades of the people the original owner (Joseph T. Mears) employed, lots of them.
In 2008, the seating capacities are given as 406, 178 and 178.
The Richmond Odeon is a Grade II Listed building because it’s the most architecturally interesting of Richmond’s Cinemas. It is believed to have been the first “semi-atmospheric” cinema in Britain.