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Weedon, Harold William

Weedon, Harold William Harold Harry William Weedon (1888–1970). English architect. He commenced practice in partnership with Harold Seymour Scott (1883–1946) in 1911, designing several high-quality houses in the Warwicks. countryside. He established an independent practice in 1925, carrying out commercial and industrial commissions, and laying out housing estates in the Birmingham area. Following a fortuitous meeting (1932) with the cinema entrepreneur Oscar Deutsch (1893–1941), he made his name with numerous cinemas throughout the country for Deutsch's Odeon chain, although he employed others to carry out the designs. The name Odeon was selected partly because it suggested (O)scar (De)utsch and (ON), because Deutsch exuded energy and ambition: later, it was claimed to be an acronym for Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation. Weedon's first success with Deutsch was the Odeon, King-standing, Perry Barr, Birmingham (1934–5), designed by John Cecil Clavering (1910–2001): with its vertical fins, streamlined look, and crisp modernity, it was an immediate success, and several more Odeons followed (all opened in 1936) including those at East Parade, Harrogate, Yorks., King Street, Lancaster, Lancs., the very fine building at Birmingham Road, Sutton Coldfield, Warwicks., and the splendid pile at Conway Road, Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Clwyd, Wales. However, having designed the Sutton Coldfield and Colwyn Bay Odeons at astonishing speed, Clavering had had enough, and left Weedon, to be replaced (1935) by the recently-qualified Robert Arthur Bullivant (1910–2002), who took over Clavering's designs for the Odeon at Scarborough, Yorks. (opened 1936). Bullivant was the job architect for the cinemas at Chester, Ches., York (1935–6), and other sites, but his masterpiece was the Odeon, Leicester (1936–8). Weedon's job architect for the Odeons at Loughborough, Leics., and Hanley, Staffs., was Arthur J. Price (1901–53), father of Cedric Price. Many of these highly successful Modernistic buildings were enjoyed by the public in a way International style architecture was not, and were all influenced to some extent by the works of Emberton, Mendelsohn, and Poelzig, yet were generally unloved by critics devoted to the Modern Movement. After the 1939–45 war the partnership carried out much commercial and industrial work, as well as schools, shopping developments, and local authority housing. Among the industrial buildings the British Motor Corporation's factory at Longbridge, Birmingham (1960s), and the factory for the Midland Electric Manufacturing Co. Ltd. at Washington New Town, County Durham (1971), may be mentioned, but the cinemas were in a superior architectural league. Unfortunately, most of them have been ham-fistedly altered, demolished, or otherwise damaged as cinema-going habits have changed.

Bibliography

Atwell (1981);
Eyles (2002)

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