IT is 30 years ago since the Odeon closed its Warrington town centre cinema.

While its popularity dropped in the immediate years before it shut in 1994, it has a rich history.

Opened on January 11 1937 by Sir Peter and Lady Rylands, the typical Odeon brick fronted building with large central window and an entrance flanked by small ground floor shops had an auditorium which featured plush cushioned seats for 1700, with luxury carpets and green and gold decor.

Harry Wells takes up the story in his book entitled Buttermarket to Cockhedge.

He said: "The record attendance was for the film 'Reach for the Sky', when some 24,000 passed through the doors in one week. Despite the decline in cinema going and the closure of other cinemas in town, big audiences could still be attracted to the Odeon as late as 1978 when box office cords were broken as over 12,000 poured in during the first week of the science fiction film 'Star Wars'."

In 1980 however, the building was split into three final theatres to seat 600, 300 and 150 people.

Harry added; "At the same time it was decided to discontinue the children's Super Saturday Show which had declined from attendances of around 500 in the sixties to a mere 50 who watched the final show in June 1980.

"The closure of the ABC at Bridge Foot in October 1982, apparently left the Odeon in a very strong monopoly position. However, this was not to last and in 1988 the American giant AMC chose a site at Westbrook for its third multi screen cinema in Britain with ten screens and free parking.

"By then, the Odeon was clearly no longer the money spinner it once was and when the owners of the Yates's Wine lodge made management an offer that could not be refused the closure of the town centre's last cinema was announced in March 1994.

"Things then moved quickly. Planning consent for the new public. house was given and the last film, the UK premiere of 'Speed' shown on Sunday 28 August at 7pm when, after the film, the invited guests filed out into the foyer past the manager and a line of 17 attendants all immaculate in royal blue uniform. It was the end of an era and by January 1995 the site had been reduced to rubble and the cinema was no more. The new wine lodge opened the following November, faced in red brick with wrought iron railings and an outdoor terrace. It is now The Looking Glass, a Wetherspoon's house."