ABC Huddersfield

12-16 Market Street,
Huddersfield, HD1 2ET

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ABC Ritz Huddersfield. Demolished June 1985

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.

Contributed by Phil Danielson, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

jasper on September 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm

This really was a beautiful cinema, the frontage was of dressed portland stone, infact it was indeed ‘top quality’ It was constructed by the local building firm, Wimpennys (Slaithwaite). I do believe some photographs of the 1936 interiors do exist amongst the archives in Huddersfield public library. As a child it was a ‘real’ treat to be taken to eat in the restaurant by my grandparents before the early evening film performance. A lot of us from school were weekly attenders of the ‘ABC Minors’ every saturday morning. Infact in the winter we would spend a whole saturday at ‘the pictures’ often moving down to The Princess or The Empire for the afternoon shows. A lot of controversy (whats new !) surrounded the demolition of ‘The Ritz’ at the time. Plans had already been drawn up buy the architecture department at the then Huddersfield Polytechic for conversion of the ABC to an Arts Centre/theatre, which included the retention of ABC 2 (in the former stalls) area for film use & the full ‘raking’ of the auditorium for theatre use together with frontal extension of the stage. The site belongs to the local authority, and it is believed that the demolition order was passed at the ‘11th hour’ on the ‘casting’ vote of the chairman of the planning commitee. It was also ‘rumoured’ that he was related to the owners of the company that demolished the building. But of course this was all rumour and heresay- such is politics!

abcman on September 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Spent three very happy years at the ABC Huddersfield from 1972 to 1975 when I was Assistant Manager there. In 1971 it was still a single cinema when I went there and we still had the two local Amateur Operatic Societies present their shows there, plus a few one night stands eg. The New Seekers, Charlie Williams, George Hamilton IV. During the twinning and Painted Wagon conversion, the cinema opened in the evenings only, using the old circle which on completion became ABC 1 using the original screen. Unfortunately, no access was made to the old front stalls (as Rank did with their Gaumont in Doncaster) so no more stage shows were possible


terry on July 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

The circle seated 648, not 468.

The Wurlitzer was still in situ when my predecessor, Richard Roper was A/M there.

My former Manager, John McIntosh was A/M there in the early 1960’s when it was still a major live venue; his Manager, George Skelton (whom I followed as Manager at 3 theatres, namely ABC Chester, Haymarket Newcastle and ABC Darlington) transferred to the ABC Globe, Stockton on Tees, an even more important live venue.

Ivelina on January 28, 2013 at 3:25 am

Hi, I’m a student at the University of Huddersfield and as part of my course we’re running a radio station for 4 days, which will be broadcasted online. I’m doing a programme about Huddersfield’s music history and I was wondering if you or someone you know who’s still around in Huddersfield, would agree to meet me and give me an interview? Thank you.

Ivelina on January 28, 2013 at 3:26 am

My email is .uk if you want to contact me

jamesshaw on October 2, 2013 at 3:34 am

Many happy memories of the ABC paricularly the saturday morning minors,although it was sometimes impossible to hear anything over the noise made by hundreds of children.My first un accompanied visit was to see Zulu which remains one of my favourite films.

leeny on December 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi all my mother worked at the ABC as a cleaner and part time usherette when the likes of ET,Jaws were on , we had freerain of the building when she was cleaning , so tons of free sweets and the odd bit of money , even found a flick knife , we saw so many films from ,,,we to many to mention , watched it get knocked down with a f-ing wrecking ball , not right as it had one of the biggest cinema frontages outside of london …. just to say thanks for posting the photos from anthony

terry on October 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Joseph Seal, the famous Resident Organist of the Regal Kingston upon Thames became ABC’s Controller of Live Entertainment and his signature can be seen at the foot of a memo, a scanned image of which I have uploaded to the photos section, from early 1969 relating to a forthcoming live show week at the ABC (Ritz) Huddersfield.

terry on November 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm

ABC Huddersfield was where The Beatles first performed ‘I Wanna Hold your Hand’ :–

terry on November 12, 2019 at 5:09 pm

1963 photo uploaded.

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