Capitol Horsham

North Street,
Horsham, RH12 1RG

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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 (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.

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.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

frankgilbert
frankgilbert on September 7, 2006 at 12:31 pm

When I was a child in the early sixties, the cinema was called the Ritz, although it was already an ABC cinema. I used to attend the ABC Minors' Matinees on Saturdays with my brother – stalls 6d, circle 1s. The Odeon was a few minutes nearer to the Carfax on the other side of the road.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 7, 2006 at 1:27 pm

Here is a photo of the Horsham Arts Centre.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 14, 2008 at 10:44 am

This website has a circa 1982 and a circa 1984 photo.

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