195 Darkes Lane,
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Located on Darkes Lane at the corner of Byng Drive in Potters Bar, which is at the extreme Northern edge of today’s Greater London. The Ritz Cinema was one of several ‘Ritz’ cinemas built and designed by Major W.J. King. It was opened on 8th October 1934 with Eddie Cantor in “Roman Scandals” and Ralph Bellamy “One is Guilty”, and it was leased to Associated British Cinemas(ABC).
It had a fortress style exterior, topped by a central square tower feature. Seating in the auditorium was in stalls and circle levels. There was a central dome in the ceiling, which was illuminated around its inner rim. The decorative style has been described as ‘American Jazz’. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 2Manual/6Ranks organ which was on a lift in the orchestra pit. There was also a fully equipped stage, which had occasional use in the early years. The cinema also had a ballroom and a tea lounge.
The Ritz Cinema was soon dropped by ABC and reverted back to operation by Major King in the Spring of 1935. From 1937, the Ritz Cinema went through several independent operators.
It was closed on 1st July 1967 with Morecambe & Wise in “That Riviera Touch” and James Stewart in “Shenandoah”. It had been sold to Tesco Supermarkets in April 1967.
It was demolished (the Compton organ was rescued prior to demolition) and Tesco built a supermarket on the site. Today the building is in use as a leisure centre and a Dreams Bed Superstore.
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