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The Ritz Cinema opened on June 13, 1936 with a seating capacity of 1,086 in stalls and circle levels. It was situated next to the Odeon Cinema (now demolished) and was designed by L. H. Parsons of Goodman & Kay with the better known Verity and Beverley acting as consultants. Built by Union Cinemas chain, it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in October 1937. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 2Manual/4Ranks organ with Melotone unit.
It was renamed ABC from 20th February 1967 and was closed on 26th June 1982. It was acquired by the local council in preparation for upgrading and acting as a replacement for the Capitol Theatre, which being more centrally located, was required for demolition to allow for Marks and Spencers store to extend.
The Horsham Arts Centre duly opened December 21, 1984 with the foyer and most of the rear stalls redeveloped into a larger foyer, toilets and art gallery. The rest of the rear stalls was converted into the 126 seat Ritz cinema.
The 1st floor cafe, circle foyer and rear circle was transformed into a new cafe, bar and further art gallery space.
The front of the circle was extended forward, with arms going down to the front stalls area. A new stage with fly tower was constructed on land to the rear of the cinema and, retaining the Art Deco plasterwork and feel of the original cinema, a most attractive new theatre was created with seating for 450.
The Horsham Arts Centre closed in January 2002 and underwent a 6-million GB pounds refurbishment. It re-opened in September 2003. The building has been re-named Capitol (after the previous demolished Capital Theatre in the town) and has a live theatre, seating 423; 311 in the stalls and 112 in the circle. The two cinema screens seat 175 in Screen 1 and 89 in Screen 2.
This is a classic example of how to treat an old theater to create a vibrant modern facility with the style and feel of the old.
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