95-99 High Street West,
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The Ritz Cinema opened on 15th May 1939 with Jackie Cooper in “Gangster’s Boy”. Built for the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain, it was designed by the noted firm of Percy L. Browne, Son and Harding who were fairly prolific in cinema design in the north east of England.
It had total seating capacity for 1,636, with 1,092 in the stalls and 544 in the circle. It was in the Art Deco style with sinuous lines of curving plaster and decorative grilles around extraction vents. The proscenium is 40 feet wide and there is a 20 feet deep stage.
The Ritz Cinema closed on the 8th September 1962 with Alan Bates in “A Kind of Loving”. It was converted to bingo club operated by Mecca Bingo. The Mecca Bingo Club was closed on 9th October 2011.
In July 2014 plans were announced that it would be converted in a pub for the J.D. Wetherspoon chain, which was opened on 12th May 2015 as the Ritz. Unfortunately the conversion to a pub has not been kind to the building. J.D. Wetherspoon are usually very good at retaining the historic fabric of their buildings, but in the case of the Ritz, the foyer was demolished to provide an outdoor smoking area and the auditorium has had a false ceiling inserted, which hides most of the original decorative features.
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