A facelift for an old favourite

By Emily Glass

The dilapidated old Odeon cinema on Clerk Street, Edinburgh is set for renovation to restore it to its former art deco glory. The New Victoria Project has revealed its detailed plans today for the site if its planned purchase is successful.

The decrepit old Odeon site

The New Victoria Project is made up of Edinburgh University Architecture Graduates to whom this extensive restoration project is a welcome job opportunity after spending the months since completing their degrees working in bar management positions.  The project are looking for investors to aid them  to buy the property from current owners Duddingston House Properties.

Their scheme aims restore and update the Grade-B listed building to produce a modern events venue with cinema, theatre, exhibition and private party capabilities.  With a first-floor bar opening-up onto the balcony, a large open area in the roof for bigger events and three smaller venues downstairs there are many exciting  possibilities for The New Victoria. The designers are also planning to return the main auditorium to its original 1930s decor. Many of the original features have been repeatedly repainted and covered-up over the years in the main auditorium so it looks set to be a length job. Operations Director Sarah Colquhoun explained: “A lot of them have been very heavily painted over so they need a lot of TLC. The French windows on the balcony are original so we’re looking at getting them restored and the skylight, which is an original feature, has been covered over as well.”

The original Victoria theatre. Credit The Guardian

The original auditorium

Lead designer Vicki Simpson was behind the renovation of The Ale House pub which stands over the road from the old Odeon earlier this year. After breathing new life into the Southside pub and attracting new, younger punters to the traditional ‘old man’s’ local the New Victoria looks set to be a success under her design. The heavy restoration that is planned is exciting for any Architect to get stuck into as Vicki said: “The highlight for us is restoring the main auditorium back to the original proscenium arch and exposing the statue recesses that are still there, and enhancing that with some new features.” Pulling the decor back to the original prosenium arch will mean that a large stage area will be placed in front of the cinema screen allowing for theatre productions as well as big screen productions to be shown.

The closing date for the sale of the site is 5th January 2011 so The New Victoria Project hope to secure financial backing over the next month to ensure the restoration can go ahead.

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