Cinemas and Art Galleries in Bury St Edmunds

The Odeon

The superb 1937 Art-Deco 1300-seater Odeon cinema by impresario Oscar Deutsch was the first in Bury to be designed for sound films. The first full length feature film shown was ‘Beloved Enemy’.

For the younger generation, ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’ was a great treat. 6d for ‘down stairs’ and 9d for ‘upstairs’ and always well attended! Jean Lacey of Tollgate Lane worked here as a young usherette around 1946. “We had great times there” she said.

The Focus

The Odeon had a name change to The Focus in 1975 but the popularity of home videos saw audiences dwindle. It closed in 1982 suffering an ignominious demolition a year later, along with the neighbouring auctioneers Cheval Lawrence, Ethelbert Taylor’s barber-shop and the ancient White Lion public house. On the site of these properties, a shopping precinct, Cornhill Walk was built. And we know what happened to that!

Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Market Cross

The Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery Trust was incorporated on April 20th, 1972. Quote, “The Gallery is an educational charity which promotes the best contemporary art, craft and design from Britain and abroad and supports the professional development of artists”. Certainly, in its earliest days the art exhibitions were standard fare but a change of name to Smiths Row (from a long-gone row of nearby market stalls) was to alter its course.

Smiths Row

Smiths Row charity was launched in 2010. It was thought that the Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery name was a bit stuffy, alluding to a home for a historic collection of paintings hence why the gallery was keen to present conceptualism. The first exhibition, ‘Under the Counter’ looked at how contemporary jewellery presented itself to a wide audience. Unfortunately, funding could not be sustained and Smiths Row on the 1st floor of the Market Cross closed in November 2015.

With many thanks to Martyn Taylor. See his book Lost…Bury St Edmunds

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