Cecil Clavering

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John Cecil Clavering OBE (17 April 1910 – 6 October 2001) was an English architect, best known for his work designing Odeon Cinemas as part of Harry Weedon's architectural practice in the 1930s, and his later work as the architect of the Public Record Office in Kew, London.


Clavering was born and educated in Sunderland, the son of a schoolmaster. At the age of seventeen he was articled to a firm of architects in South Shields while studying architecture at Armstrong College, Newcastle, where he was introduced to the work of Le Corbusier, Willem Marinus Dudok, Erich Mendelsohn and Berthold Lubetkin. With a travelling scholarship he visited the major architecture centres of Italy, Austria and Germany in 1929 and 1930.[1]

Clavering's work at the time included the draughtsmanship or design of several cinemas in South Shields and Newcastle upon Tyne.[2] Clavering was unhappy with the classical detailing that was required for the cinemas, however - feeling that such ostentatious decoration was inappropriate in poor areas and also presented practical problems when reproduced in terracotta or faience - and concluded that "the answer appeared to be the new architecture advocated by Le Corbusier and the Germans".[3]

Clavering's opportunity came when Harry Weedon was commissioned to redesign the interior of a cinema being built in Warley for Oscar Deutsch, owner of the expanding Odeon Cinemas chain. Weedon's practice at the time numbered only six architects, none of whom except Weedon himself had any experience of cinema design, so Clavering was recruited to complete the job. He next worked on the Odeon, Kingstanding, then examples in Sutton Coldfield, Colwyn Bay and Scarborough, "one masterpiece after the other"[4] considered "the finest expressions of the Odeon circuit style".[5] Later in 1935 however Clavering stunned Weedon by resigning to take up a job with the Office of Works. Weedon approached Clavering's former tutor who recommended Robert Bullivant as Clavering's replacement.[6]


  1. ^ "Cecil Clavering". The Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. 2001-10-24. p. 19. 
  2. ^ Eyles, Allen (2002-01-02). "Obituary: J. Cecil Clavering". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. p. 6. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  3. ^ Eyles, Allen (2002). Odeon Cinemas 1: Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation. London: BFI Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 0-85170-813-7. 
  4. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (2002-05-18). "The mogul's monuments: How Oscar Deutsch's Odeon cinemas taught Britain to love modern architecture". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-06-12. With Weedon in Deutsch's stride, the Odeon chain produced one masterpiece after the other: Sutton Coldfield, Scarborough, Colwyn Bay 
  5. ^ Eyles, Allen (2002-01-02). "Obituary: J. Cecil Clavering". The Independent. Newspaper Publishing Plc. p. 6. Retrieved 2008-06-14. The exteriors of the Kingstanding and Sutton Coldfield Odeons were the finest expressions of the Odeon circuit style ... However, the style that Clavering had so brilliantly established was gradually coarsened and diluted in the later Weedon output - excepting the Odeon Harrogate, a replica of Sutton Coldfield [dead link]
  6. ^ Atwell, David (1980). Cathedrals of the Movies: a History of British Cinemas and Their Audiences. London: Architectural Press. ISBN 0-85139-562-7.