In 1935 George Cole, who was an experienced cinema architect, was commissioned by Oscar Deutsch to build the Muswell Hill Odeon, together with a complex of nine shops and ten flats, with a private car park behind for the cinema goers. Although Deutsch had no interest in shops or flats he was often forced to build mixed complexes if his cinema plans were to be accepted by local planners who wanted something extra besides the cinema as a planning gain. Thus at Muswell Hill and no doubt elsewhere, he built shops and flats but immediately sold them off when his cinema was opened.

The site was at the corner of Muswell Hill Road and Fortis Green Road, opposite St James's Church. All but a couple of the 1860s terrace of houses, once occupied by surgeons, doctors and other professional people, were demolished to give Coles a commanding corner site on which to make his statement, with the height of the original terrace dictating the building height. Coles placed the cinema entrance boldly in the corner as a flaring display, the main feature of the complex, not unlike the Astoria at Finsbury Park. The St James's Church congregation was immediately roused to anger by this flamboyance. The sedate and respectable church opposite would be faced by enormous posters of naked film stars and violent gangsters, floodlit and topped with a dramatic neon sign raining red fire against the night sky. This, in of all places Muswell Hil opposite the oldest church, was completely unacceptable. Muswell Hill would not tolerate such desecration.

 

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