Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings

Mecca Bingo Club (The Odeon)

Skinner Street

Listing:  Odeon Cinema. Opened Sept, 1937.  Became a bingo club after June 1983.  Architect: P. J. Price of Harry Weedon's practice.  Brick and faience.  Moderne Style.  An almost complete example of the Odeon style.

Literature: Ned Williams, Cinemas of the Black Country, Uralia Press, 1982. 

Comment: This building was added to the list on 5th October 2000, following English Heritage's review of cinema buildings.  It was one of about 30 cinemas added nationally.  Despite the building's obvious interest and importance, this listing seems to have caught the councillors off guard and some of them complained mightily about it, claiming that they had not been consulted and that the listing wrecked the proposals for the redevelopment of the area.  This tells us a good deal about the councillors but not much about anything else.

The building is typical of Harry Weedon's style;  the site architect was P. J. Price.  The general contractor was Housing Ltd., of Blackheath.  The cinema held 1272 patrons in the stalls and 668 in the balcony.  The opening was attended by Oscar Deutsch himself and the ceremony was performed by the Mayor Of Wolverhampton, Sir Charles Mander.  

Ned Williams, in his booklet "Wolverhampton Odeon", published to mark the cinema's closure, points out that the canopy is not the original and that "at the top of the tower, and on the facade of the crush hall and balcony lounge, the name 'Odeon' appeared in geometrical lettering in red and gold that had been developed for the [Odeon] circuit by Pearce Signs".  

In 1973 the cinema was tripled by installing two small cinemas under the balcony.  About 1982 the whole building was converted to a bingo hall.  The change to a bingo club, typical of the time, was well done, so that much of the original interior is well preserved.  But problems with the interior will arise if bingo attendances fall off and Mecca look to convert it to another use or sell it off.