3 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Union Cinema Co. Ltd.
Architects: Robert Cromie
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Ritz Cinema
The Ritz Cinema was next to the Ancient House in the Buttermarket. Built for the Union Cinemas chain, it was opened on 4th January 1937 with “Three Maxims”, a film starring Anna Neagle, who appeared on the opening night to officially open the cinema.
The Ritz Cinema had a 50 feet wide proscenium and a 12 feet deep stage with four dressing rooms. It was equipped with a 3Manual/8Ranks Wurlitzer organ (with grand piano attached) that was opened by noted organist Harold Ramsey. The Ritz Cinema also contained a café. It was taken over by Associated British Cinema(ABC) in October 1937 and they operated it through the remainder of its life.
It was re-named ABC in 1962 and was closed in March 1973 to be converted into a triple screen. ABC 2 (in the former balcony) opened on 21st May 1973 with 445 seats and ABC’s 1 & 3 opened in the former stalls areas on 18th June 1973 with 544 & 133 seats. It was at this time that the Wurlitzer organ was removed for spare parts.
The ABC chain were taken over by EMI in the 1980’s and it was decided to close the ABC on 5th April 1986. It was demolished in 1988 to make way for the new British Home Stores and part of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre. The British Home Stores was closed in 2019.
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.
Recent comments (view all 8 comments)
A vintage postcard view of Buttermarket from possibly the late-1940’s:
A zoomed-in view of the above:
A colour postcard from 1979:
A close-up of the Ritz Cinema entrance in 1937:
The ABC as a single screen in November 1962:
As a triple screen in June 1963:
Foyer in June 1973:
ABC Screen 2 in June 1973:
Vintage photographs of the Ritz Cinema, and its Wurlitzer organ console;
Ken, in fact the Wurlitzer wasnt broken up for parts.It was Cherry picked and the Music desk,Grand piano,Brass Saxaphone and Tibia Clausa went onto different organs.It was removed by the Cadence musical instrument Coand then sold onto Arthur Turner of Scarborough who installed it in the Hollywood cinema there-although his organ building skills were questionable.After his death,it was sold and is now awaiting installation in i believe Bexhill.The British Home Stores cafe now sits where the stage and Orchestra pit used to be and i often think back whilst drinking my Earl Gray!.
Seats from the ABC Ipswitch were removed on closure and re installed in the State Cinema Grays, Essex. About six people , including myself made three journeys in a removel van. It was back breaking work but worth it.
My first job after leaving The Ipswich School was trainee projectionist at the Ipswich Ritz cinema in 1948. 6 days a week starting at about 9.45am to the end of the last performance and my last duty finishing just after 11pm paid 17 shillings and 6 pence (I think). My first job to take down Harold Ramsey Wurlitzer Organ and last job at night to raise the organ by push button.
Check this out, The late and great Gerald Shaw at the Ritz / ABC Ipswich.
He was one of the last if not the last proffesional cinema organists in the world (Last base theatre, Odeon Leicester Square. He had been in the buisness a long time [he opened the copton organ of the regal cinema St Leonards Nr Hastings in the south east of england back in 1932 for example. Enjoy the clip and his commentary.
The ABC Ipswich Wurlitzer organ will be restored and installed in the Plaza Waterloo(Crosby) cinema in Liverpool in 2019.
The latest on the Ipswich Wurlitzer organ. Obviously the project was adversely affected by Covid (as was the cinema at Crosby). But as of January 2023 the project is now 90% complete and will be playing in the spring. The organ chambers are pretty much complete with all parts installed and the console is against the stage at the front of the stalls.