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New Victoria 2005 - A Visual Tour
What original decorative elements remain intact in 2005?

Main Foyer
The main outer foyer is, superficially, one of the areas that is most altered from the original 1930s designs. The original double set of doors are long gone; as is the island paybox and light fittings.

Tthe decorative terrazzo flooring still exists, albeit damaged, under the current carpets, and above the modern suspended ceilings, large portions of the original ceiling coving also appear to survive intact.

Indeed, it appears that above the current suspended ceiling, another, older suspended ceiling may still hide even more of the original foyer ceiling decoration, athough this has yet to be confirmed.

Stalls Foyer
Moving through the sets of doors to the inner stalls foyer, this area is one of the least changed and most recognisable when current photos are compared to the 1930s originals.

While the carpet and wickerwork chairs are long gone, almost everything else is intact; from the steps on the right and doors leading to what were originally the rear-stalls private boxes, and now lead to projection rooms, to the glass light-fittings on the side walls, radiator covers, and decorative plasterwork coving.

The central decorated ceiling portion is now hidden beneath a later curved light fitting, but above that neon-lighting the central portion appears to be largely intact.

Rear Stalls
The rear stalls were divided into two separate screens in 1982, and superficially seem to have little in the way of original features showing. However, a closer examination shows two of the original private boxes intact at the rear of Screen 2, and towards the rear of both screens, portions of decorative cornicing can be seen.

The removal of the cinema screens and associated paraphernalia after closure as a working cinema has also revealed portions of the original auditorium side walls, on both the left hand side of Screen 2, and the right hand side of Screen 3.

These portions of wall match closely the decoration and colour schemes visible in the 1980s photographs taken just prior to subdivision. It is not clear if the rest of the side wall decoration is intact behind the modern cladding or not, but based on how other parts of the conversion were undertaken, it is reasonable to assume that they are.

The octagonal light fittings that were originally under the balcony to illuminate the rear stalls were removed when the cinema was tripled, but are still in storage elsewhere in the building (in the area that once housed the organ chamber, accessed via a small spiral staircase and a rickety wooden ladder!) Parts of the 3-level deco light fittings, similar (but larger) to those still used in the stalls foyer, and visible on the side walls of the auditorium in the original photos, are also still present elsewhere in the building.

Screen 4, created on the original stage area, and Screen 5, inserted above 4 in the fly tower, have no original features obviously on display within them.
Their creation largely destroyed the original stage end of the building as it was, with the insertion of two new staircases for access and the removal of most of the backstage ancillary space.

Despite that, above Screen 5, parts of the grid and pulleys on the upper fly floor are intact, and below Screen 4, the front of the original stage can be seen. No evidence of the 1930s inner proscenium, as shown in the photo above, can currently be seen; however parts of the structural elements of it, and part of a stage lighting gallery can still be found to the right of the stage.

The pillars on the splay walls and coffering under the outer proscenium visible in the archive photo are both intact; see the Front Auditorium section for more details.

Climbing the stairs from the outer foyer to the cinema cafe, later the bar.

Other than the replacement of the light fittings with more modern ones, it is largely unaltered when one compares current photos with its original configuration.

Rear Balcony
Continuing upwards, through the original 1930s wooden doors to the rear of the original auditorium, we reach Screen 1. This was the balcony of the original single screen cinema, and contains the most obvious original decorative features in the building.

Everything from the screen rearwards is original; from the statues in their alcoves to the rear colonnade and walkway.

The star lights in the ceiling date from the 1950s alterations to adapt the building for Cinemascope.

The one noticeable change is that two of the visible statues have been stolen - one had gone missing sometime between the building closing as cinema in 2003, and its reopening as a temporary Fringe Festival venue in 2004; the other went missing at some point while it was in use as the Pod Deco venue in August 2004.

Front Auditorium
The screen itself is of course contained within a simplified recreation of the original outer proscenium arch. Behind this modern copy lies the most fascinating part of the entire building; a large void consisting of the original front portion of the main auditorium. Stepping behind the current Screen 1 reveals firstly the side wall decoration continuing with two further statues and alcoves on each side (unfortunately, two of these statues - one on each side - have been stolen at some unknown point in the buildings history).

Looking further forwards, the outer part of the proscenium arch is completely intact, and far more detailed than its modern copy.
Underneath this outer archway was originally a deep section of coffered ceiling, later covered over when the proscenium was adapted for scope. Above this 50s flat dark ceiling, the original coffering lies intact, and is still visible from the roof void above.

On either side of the original screen opening, the original 1930s splay walls have thin false pillars with decorated pilasters at the top; all still intact, although hidden behind curtains since the 1958 Cinemascope alterations. These pillars had concealed lighting behind them, and one side would have had fabric between them that originally hid the grill openings from the organ chamber on the RHS.

Remarkably, the curtains that were fitted when scope was installed and the stage extended forward over the orchestra put in 1958 are still in situ in 2005; their gold colouring gradually fading away.

Both front auditorium side exits are largely intact, as are the fire exit doors they lead to, and the associated ladies and gents toilets on either side.

Many of the currently unused void and storage areas have fixtures from various points in the building's history. In addition, a lot of old equipment from other cinemas owned by Odeon had been brought here for storage and later abandoned; from two different generations of projector casings in the front stalls void, to black and white armrests from old seating, to outdated automation equipment and chandelier light fittings of unknown origin!

What this thorough survey of the building shows is that while it has been dramatically altered since it opened in 1930, most of the alterations in the public areas were done in a largely reversible manner, and that much more of the original decorative scheme survives intact behind later additions than a superficial survey might otherwise show.

A complete photo survey of the interior of the building, from May and August 2005, can be found here.

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