NEXT time you go past the York Odeon building - now an Everyman cinema - take a moment to reflect on the people who battled to save the building for the city.

The cinema, which opened in 1937, has had a rollercoaster history in York, particularly as cinema audiences began to decline.

In 1972, the single-screen cinema was turned into one with three screens in a refurb programme that cost £30,000.

The cinema reopened as a three-screen complex on August 20, 1972, with the films Carry On Matron, Cabaret, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Further challenges came in 1990 when a 12-screen cinema complex opened at Clifton Moor, currently Vue cinema.

By January 2004, the future of the cinema - by then, the city's last remaining traditional picture house - was looking grim and The Press launched a campaign to save the Odeon.

An editorial at the time reported: "The newspaper believes that the city's last remaining traditional picture house is too important a facility – and of too much architectural significance – to be lost without a fight. We are asking you to support our call for the Odeon to continue as a cinema in Blossom Street, and for a sensitive refurbishment of the building."


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* Amazing memories and photos of the night the Odeon York first opened


The building's owners said the site was being assessed for its economic viability, with staff told that it may be put on the market and developers saying the site could be worth up to £2 million if re-developed for flats.

Cinema enthusiasts and residents backed our battle and by the summer some 14,000 people had signed a petition to save the Odeon.

But by 2006, it was announced that the Odeon would close. Condemnation of the decision was widespread and led by the then York central MP, Hugh Bayley.

But the Odeon's owners said the closure decision had been taken because of increasing pressure from competition in the area, including the City Screen in Coney Street and Vue at Clifton Moor.

Happily, this was not the final curtain for the cinema. After a spell under the stewardship of independent cinema chain Reel, it was bought by Everyman in 2017, which is still showing films in the building today.