174 Bowes Road,
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Located in the north London district of Southgate. Built and designed by Major W.J. King as one of several Ritz Cinemas planned for a small chain, the project was sold to Associated British Cinemas (ABC) prior to completion. It opened as the Ritz Cinema on 21st December 1933 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in “The Narrow Corner” and John Wayne in “His Private Secretary”.
Styled in a rather plain Art Deco style, the auditorium runs parallel to the main Bowes Road (which today is part of the North Circular Road around London) and was hidden from view by a parade of shops. Inside the auditorium, the main features were a central dome in the ceiling and abstract decorative designs on the splay walls each side of the proscenium. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Rank theatre organ which was opened by Alex Taylor. Additional facilities included a cafe and a large car park.
It was re-named ABC from 1969 and in April 1970 it was fitted out as a ‘Luxury Lounge’ cinema with new spacious seating and carpeting in the stalls area which now contained 588 seats, while the balcony became un-used.
The ABC closed on 16th February 1974 with Brigitte Bardot in “The Legend of Frenchie King” (Les Petroleuses) and Leslie Phillips in “Not Now Darling”. It lay empty for a while and was then purchased by Jehovah’s Witnesses who now use it as an Assembly Hall. It has been well maintained and restored to near original condition.
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