12-16 Market Street,
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Built on the site of the Cloth Hall, which dated from the 1770’s, the Ritz Cinema was the towns first and only purpose built super cinema, opening on 10th February 1936 with Jessie Mathews in “First A Girl” and Billy Cotton’s Band on stage and with fiim stars Sally Grey and Sydney Howard appearing in person.
It was built for, and initially operated by the Union Cinemas chain. Harold Ramsey opened the Wurlitzer 2Manual/8Rank theatre organ which had an illuminated surround on the console and was the first of this make to be installed in a Union operated cinema and it was the only one to have an illuminated seat. It was originally a 2,036 seat single screen cinema with seating in stalls and circle and there was a cafe/ballrooom attached.
Taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in October 1937, it was re-named ABC in 1961.
Also used as a live venue, The Beatles played here as part of the 1963 Northern ABC’s Tour, along with The Rolling Stones. Local Amateur Operatic Societies also continued to perform live musicals here, until in February 1974, when the rear stalls area was split into a Painted Wagon pub and a second screen, seating 216. There was now no access into the original front stalls area. The circle became the 648 seat screen 1, using the original proscenium arch and projection box, and the restaurant was converted into screen 3. The ABC was closed on 5th March 1983.
The building was considered for conversion to a live theatre along with the former Palace Theatre, two options much favoured by residents of the town at that time, when Huddersfield was without a live theatre. But as in the case of hundreds of other cinemas in the 1970’s and 1980’s the developers got the upper hand and it was later demolished to be replaced by a supermarket.
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