DON YOUR WAY COLUMN: Why was perfectly good Doncaster town centre cinema bulldozed?

Why was the Odeon demolished, asks Darren Burke.
Why was the Odeon demolished, asks Darren Burke.

So plans to return cinema back to Doncaster town centre are back on track - coincidentally just a week after I’d raised the issue of reviving the town’s former ABC cinema.

And although there’s currently no proposal to breathe life back into that picture house, Doncaster Council has confirmed that it is reviving stalled plans to open a new cinema alongside Cast in Sir Nigel Gresley Square.

It was originally due to open last year - but three years on from the proposal being announced, little has happened and the land remains derelict.

Which brings us to the crux of this week’s column.

You may recall that not so long ago, Doncaster had its very own town centre cinema.

It was called the Odeon (Gaumont to older readers) and stood towering over the junction of Waterdale and Hall Gate.

It famously hosted The Beatles in the 1960s, along with a host of other star names at its height - before spending its later years as purely a cinema.

It was demolished in 2009 to make way for a casino. The more alert among you will notice that eight years on, the only chips and wheels to be found on the site are the ones from discarded takeaway trays and those attached to the dozens of vehicles sitting on the rough ground, which is currently a car park.

Yes, the Odeon was a little tatty around the edges when it came face to face with the wrecking ball, but rather than a grandiose scheme which has yet to come to fruition, it could have been given another few years of life at least, allowing the joy of town centre movies to continue.

Or developed and given a bit of a spruce-up. Or demolished to make way for a brand new sparkling cinema.

Naturally, there are plenty out there questioning why a perfectly good three screen cinema was bulldozed to make way for one that will be a stone’s throw away - although that’s obviously if it comes to fruition.

The town centre is littered with casualties of the entertainment industry - the dilapidated Grand Theatre still stands stranded and rotted opposite the railway station, the previously mentioned ABC cinema has clocked up 25 years of abandonment and of course there are countless shops which also sit vacant and gathering dust.

St James’ Baths is another victim - also crumbling and unloved - although it could disappear as part of the Gresley Square cinema plans - or face a redevelopment of its own.

The town has to make progress and change and sometimes, much-loved and popular buildings do have to be swept away, whatever the strength of feeling may be to save them.

I’ll cross that particular controversial bridge on which should possibly meet their fate in later columns, but I will say this.

It is a shame the Odeon is no longer with us, but its not coming back, so let’s welcome a new cinema.