Church was faced by a quiet, simple frontage in a warm brown brick, midway between the traditional Muswell Hill red brick and the grey Ancaster and Bath Stone of the Church. The Cinema remained where it was, but the entrance was moved along to the end of the site and into Fortis Green Road. Movement from the foyer into the cinema was skewed. A slip road was built in front of the shops, distancing them from the Church, while the sharp curve of the shops and a group of trees formed a screen, discreetly hiding the Cinema from religious gaze. A most sophisticated solution.
The top of the flats is horizontal and the long Crittal windows, typical of the period, stress the horizontal form of the design and make the building appear lower than it is. The architect has cleverly disguised the fact that the site is sloping. To achieve the level top to the flats mid so give peace to the design, the shop ceilings have to vary in height. The ground slopes downwards towards the car park entrance, so the heights of the shop ceilings gradually increase as one troves from the corner of the building towards the car park entrance. Thus all the shop ceilings are at the same level and the flats can have a horizontal roof. When Bond & White's took over a row of four adjacent shops and knocked them together, the changes of floor level became apparent. Today the floor rises and sinks in Bond and White's, as we move, vaguely bewildered, from one level to the next. This change would not have been noticed when the shops were separate.
Since the whole cinema complex had to conform to the rigid Fire Regulations governing cinemas, all the materials had to be fireproof. Thus the buildings are in steel framed construction, concrete and brick, with aesbestos roof tiles for the cinema and asphalt for the floors and roof of the flats. The speed of construction was astonishing. The Cinema and flats each took eight months to complete, but the flats were not started until the cinema walls were almost complete and were not finished until four months after the cinema had opened.
The Odeon was a modern, purpose-built cinema, not a converted theatre and the shape reflects this. Coles designed a splendid Art Deco interior, with the ceiling sweeping down from the balcony to the screen in great curves. The concealed lighting in the long central ceiling light and the sweeping curves which carry the ceiling down to the screen create the appearance of a giant cash register, with the seat backs as keys. Fortunately, despite the conversion of the cinema into three smaller units, the view from the balcony is unimpaired and can still be enjoyed as an excellent example of Art Deco design.
Oscar Deutsch had boundless energy, was able to work until two in the morning, and is said to have needed only three hours sleep at night. He built some 140 cinemas, acquired about the same number of existing ones and spent more than £10 million in capital outlay The expansion had been so rapid and everyone was so fully committed that, as was mentioned earlier, they were all oblivious of what was going on in the world outside. This lack of perspective allowed Harry Weedon to take Bullivant and two others into partnership in April 1939 and in September they were operating from four offices with a total staff of 160. War was declared on 3rd September 1939 and all the work they were engaged on came to a full stop the next day.
The War caused a complete crisis in the cinema industry. Anticipating immediate mass raids, cinemas and theatres were closed by order. No cash was coming in and cinema shares could not be sold for fear of a price collapse. After several weeks the Government decided to allow places of entertainment to reopen and audiences soon reached all-time records. Thus the cash flow and bank credits were eased, but building
Finchley Press 24.6.1977