GLASGOW City Council leader Gordon Matheson is reported as being "delighted" that the former Odeon cinema in Renfield Street is being demolished to make way for an office block ("Odeon redevelopment to start", The Herald, November 27).
I'm sure his opinion is not shared by those who value Glasgow's cinema and architectural history. The cinema opened in 1934 as the Paramount before being taken over by Odeon. Generations have been thrilled by great movies as well as being wowed by ground-breaking stage acts like the Beatles, Oscar Peterson, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder.
The whole affair has a depressing, if familiar, air about it Before the cinema was closed with alacrity in 2009, Historic Scotland had moved to ensure that at least the stylish art deco facade was preserved. We were then promised that the interior would be developed into shops, bars and cafes. Regrettably (and predictably) this never happened and those who loved the cinema and have happy memories of times spent there with loved ones watched in sadness as it was allowed to deteriorate before their eyes; just like the Coliseum in Eglinton Street, another venue with a fantastic history.
So is Historic Scotland's "B" listing of the facade worthless? It seems bizarre to be building an office block in the middle of Glasgow's entertainment district. Surely there are better sites?
It seems that the council has washed its hands of the building and those who supposedly are guardians of our heritage care nothing for it. At the very least there should have been an insistence that the site be used for entertainment purposes. One only has to try to gain entry to the Cineworld on at least three nights of the week to realise that Glasgow – once known as "Cinema City" – no longer has sufficient screens to supply the demand. Edinburgh, for example, has many more screens than Glasgow, yet has only around 60% of its population. Even when the UGC (now Cineworld) opened and the city centre Odeon had a rival in its sister cinema at the Quay, it more than held its own in attracting customers.
In the wake of the Odeon's former rivals the Green's Playhouse and Coliseum, buildings of historic importance and significance to the entertainment industry, Glasgow is faced with the loss of another part of its heritage and for it to be replaced by yet another soulless office block. Maybe they'll call it Paramount House and put a plaque on the wall.
13 St Leonard's Road, East Kilbride.
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