Preston fire: Cost of Odeon and Tokyo Jo fire rise as downtown businesses remain closed

The sprawling old Odeon Building, once home to a string of popular venues from Top Rank to Clouds, Tokyo Joe’s, Lava and Ignite and Evoque, is being flattened – although it’s hoped its art deco facade can be saved.

But neighboring businesses have also paid a heavy price for what could prove to be more than a week’s worth of revenue for some, as a tight cordon still prevents many from reopening for safety reasons.

Former Miss World contestant Elizabeth Grant, who works at Detroit Motown and Soul Bar – the closest place to hell – visited the stage today and was told it might run out up to 10 days before the business is operational again.

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First photo inside the main entrance of the old Odéon cinema.

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Preston’s Fire: Reminiscing about the glory days of Tokyo Jo’s and Odeon cinema af…

The newly opened Hopwoods Tap House, also next to the fire-ravaged Odeon, was still closed today and fenced – although it hoped to reopen at tea time.

And many other hospitality venues in the immediate area of ​​the demolition site were also prevented from inviting customers back as security guards continued to blockade Avenham Street, Main Sprit Weind and Syke Street while delicate work dismantling of the precarious remains of the building continued. .

“It was a very bad weekend for us,” admitted Oli Ingram, regional manager of the company which runs both Hopwoods and its sister establishment Baluga Bar across the road.

Tony Hayhurst was a regular at the Odéon in his youth – and also at the Clouds nightclub.

“We had to evacuate both around 7:30-8:00 p.m. Thursday night. Hopwoods has remained closed since then as it is right next to the building.

“It hit Baluga on Friday during the day, but then we were able to open on Friday evening. But trade was reduced all weekend due to road closures.

“We have now been cleared by building inspectors to reopen Hopwoods at 4pm today. But it has been a real struggle for everyone here since Thursday.”

In Detroit, in Main Sprit Weind, the picture was not so rosy today. The narrow alley between the bar and the scene of the fire was still closed and demolition crews were unable to say when it would be safe to reopen it.

Former projectionist Harry Hindle in front of the devastated Odeon cinema.

“It’s so frustrating,” said Elizabeth, who won the Miss England title in 2016 to earn a place in the Miss World USA final.

“I’ve been told it could be seven to 10 days before we can reopen. It could be sooner, but no one knows for sure at the moment.

“We’ve already lost the whole weekend to the fire and now it looks like we could lose next weekend too – and maybe even the Jubilee bank holidays too.”

Soul band The Real Thing are booked for a sold-out concert at the bar this Friday.

Workers were inside the front part of the building while demolition work continues on the back.

“If we can’t find another place for it, we could lose it,” Elizabeth added. “We have so many reservations and there are so many people calling to check when we reopen.

“We were the closest location to the fire when it started, so it’s obviously up to security officials.”

The blaze not only destroyed the huge building and impacted nearby businesses, it also left thousands on the verge of tears as they saw a place they fondly remember from the sixties and seventies reduced in ashes.

Former Odéon projectionist Harry Hindle, 75, worked there fifty years ago and still remembers cinema at its peak.

“It’s very sad to see the building in such a state,” he said. “I know it was closed for many years, but this place meant a lot to thousands of people – not just the cinema but also the Top Rank ballroom and the other nightclubs that followed.

“I remember having to carry the heavy reels of film up the stairs to the projection room at the very top of the building. There were six reels in boxes that had to be brought up there by hand because there was no had no elevator.

Demolition work continues on what remains of the old Odeon Cinema and Tokyo Joe’s nightclub.

“Like all Odeon cinemas, it was a great place. It had the latest technology, we were dealing with state-of-the-art machinery – at least that was advanced at the time.”

BBC Radio Lancashire presenter John ‘Gilly’ Gillmore stopped by Church Street today to pay his respects to a venue that was once a favorite of colleagues at his former station Red Rose Radio and its sister station RockFM.

“Rock FM used to party there when it was Tokyo Joe’s,” John said. “They were very popular.

“I remember going to the cinema there shortly after joining Red Rose for a press preview of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ cinema closed shortly thereafter.

“It’s always sad when places like this disappear. It meant so much to so many people.”

Tony Hayhurst also stopped by Church Street to remember a place he visited regularly as a teenager.

The ex-soldier watched many films at the Odeon and also paid a few visits to the Clouds nightclub.

“I used to go to the movies with my grandmother who would then fall asleep while me and my cousins ​​watched the movie,” he recalled.

“The place has fond memories for me. I remember watching the original Rocky movie around 1976.

“And a couple of us Catholic College guys snuck out of school one afternoon to go watch The Exorcist.

“A bit later I went to Clouds. I remember my dad was talking a lot about Top Rank. He loved it.

“It’s very sad to see what he’s become. It will have upset a lot of people.”

Former Miss England Elizabeth Grant said businesses in the area had lost a lot of business to the blaze.

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