Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The Athena, Rutland and Queen street, Leicester

Formerly - The Odeon, Queen street

Leicester Theatres

The Athena, Leicester in 2011 - Courtesy David Garratt

Above - The Athena, Leicester in 2011 - Courtesy David Garratt

The Athena Leicester is situated in the new Leicester Cultural Quarter on a corner site of Rutland and Queen street. Although now situated in the Cultural Quarter, the building has stood on this site since 1938, and the Cultural Quarter recently built around the existing building. The Athena is a Banquet Hall, Conference Centre and Live Performance venue, staging one night events of Stand up Comedy, Singers, Groups and Entertainers.

It started its life as the Odeon Cinema designed by Robert Bullivant of the Harry Weedon Partnership, for Oscar Deutsch's Odeon Theatres Ltd. The famous chain of cinemas.

The Odeon Queen street, as it was known, opened on the 28th July 1938 with Edward G Robinson starring in 'A Slight Case of Murder.' seating 2,182 people, 1,307 in the stalls and 875 in the circle.

The Cinema continued to offer the latest films by the Rank Organisation for many years. It had been built with a shallow stage behind the screen, and in the 1960's it also staged one night events of pop groups and singers. There were also one night showings of cultural films of Opera and Ballet.

By 1974, as television was taking its toll on cinemas up and down the country, Cinema started to combat this trend by changing to smaller capacity 'screens' offering a range of films in the same building, and so the Odeon was split into three mini cinema's. This was achieved by incorporating the circle and front stalls into one cinema seating 1,237 seats, and two smaller cinema's constructed under the circle in the rear stalls seating 111 and 123 respectively. In 1988 a fourth screen was added by converting the front stalls into a 401 seat screen.

The Odeon continued to operate at this site until 16th July 1997 when a new 12 screen Odeon multiplex was opened at Freemans Common, situated more on the outskirts of the city centre. The last films to play at Queen Street were, 'Batman and Robin,' 'One Fine Day', 'Karma Sutra', and 'The Fifth Element.' In 1998 the Odeon Queen Street became Grade 2 listed.

It stood empty for eight years, before being purchased and renovated back to its original Art Deco splendour, which involved restoring the Cinema back to its original configuration before the mini cinema divisions. It now has a new lease of life catering for up to 1,500 guests offering varied entertainment to the public of Leicester. You may like to visit the Athena's own website here

The Athena, Leicester in 2011, also showing Leicester's Curve Theatre - Courtesy David Garratt

Above - The Athena, Leicester in 2011, also showing Leicester's Curve Theatre - Courtesy David Garratt

The above article was written for this site by David Garratt and kindly sent in for inclusion in 2011. The article and its accompanying images are © David Garratt 2011.

If you have any archive images of this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

Other Pages that may be of Interest