ABC Sunderland

Sunderland, SR1 3HY

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ABC Sunderland

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on 1st March 1937 with Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in “Swing Tme”, the Ritz Cinema was built for Union Cinemas. However Union Cinemas were in financial trouble and they were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC). It was lavishly fitted with deep pile carpets and chandeliers.

In 1961 it was re-named ABC. It was converted into a two screen cinema from July/August 1974 when the former circle became a 534 seat screen and the front stalls a second screen seating 212. The rear stalls area was converted into a Painted Wagon pub. Sadly the conversion destroyed much of the original interior of the auditorium. It was later taken over by the Cannon Cinemas group, but later went back to the ABC name.

Sadly it closed on 29th April 1999, the last of Sunderland’s major cinemas. It has recently reopened as ‘The Point’ a nightclub which has four dance floors and has now completely lost all features of its cinematic past.

Contributed by Paul Wynn

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

terry on January 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I used to do relief stints at the ABC prior to its conversion and it was 100% ABC design throughout with no ‘Union’ features at all. The plans had the architect’s name logged thereon:William R Glen – ABC’s ‘in house’ architect.

This was the only ABC in the North East designed by him; all other purpose builds were by Percy L Brown of Hartlepool. There were many other acquired theatres in the North East which became part of the vast Associated British Corporation.

The ‘twinning’ was carried out using most of the circle for screen 1( 550 seats with a new screen and tabs positioned forward of the ballustrade; rows A, B & C of the front circle were lost in the process). Screen 2 (212 seats)occupied the actors' left section of the rear stalls and the public house occupied the length of the stalls at actors' right.

I spent a short time as Assistant Manager here after the twinning and, in addition to the loss of the ‘big cinema’ atmosphere, the foyers also lost their style and grandeur by being boxed in and reduced vastly in size – such was ‘progress’ in the 1970’s

paulwynn on May 19, 2009 at 11:21 am

is there any pictures around of the old ABC?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 19, 2009 at 11:53 am

A vintage photograph of the ABC in November 1962:
View link
An October 2008 photograph of The Point:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Here are 3 vintage 1937 views of the interior at the opening of the Ritz Cinema:
View link
Auditorium & balcony:
View link
Auditorium & stalls:
View link

paulwynn on May 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

just also wondering when the ABC was twinned – what happened to the stage area and front stalls area which did not seem to be used?

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