100 Commercial Road,
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Architects: Leslie H. Kemp
Firms: Kemp & Tasker
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Ritz Cinema, ABC, Classic, Cannon, MGM
The Ritz Cinema opened on 10th January 1938 with Jeanette McDonald in “Maytime”. It was a takeover of a Union Cinemas project by Associated British Cinemas(ABC). There was originally a seating capacity of 1,012 on a stadium plan(stepped section at the rear, with no overhanging balcony). As was usual for a Union Cinemas designed building there was a high quality decorative treatment inside the auditorium, with Art Deco style scroll-work in plaster and light fittings of the period. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 2Manual/4Rank organ with Melotone attachment and illuminated console which was opened by Wilfred Southworth. The Ritz Cinema also had a café for the convenience of its patrons. The Ritz Cinema was re-named ABC on 19th June 1961.
Closed on 19th August 1972 for twinning, the front stalls section became a bingo club, and a new 378 seat ABC opened in the stepped rear section on 16th November 1972. This closed on 10th December 1977, but the bingo operation continued.
Re-opened on 7th December 1984 as the Classic Cinema with Dan Ackroyd in “Ghostbusters”, it was re-named Cannon in 1987, then MGM, before becoming ABC again in a management buyout. The bingo club section became a nightclub named ‘Lovejoys’ from 1989, now re-named ‘Dusk’. The café remains open as the Ritz snack bar and amusements. Odeon Theatres took over operation of the cinema in February 2000. The cinema was closed in May 2014 when a new Odeon multiplex opened in the town. By August 2016 it had been converted into a church.
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