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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 cafe. 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.
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