Ritz Cinema

Old Durham Road,
Gateshead, NE8

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Ritz Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the centre of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, on Brunswick Street at the corner of Argyle Street (which no longer exist today). The Ritz Cinema was built for the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain and opened on 25th July 1938 with Greta Garbo in “Marie Waleska”. Designed by the Newcastle based architectural firm Percy L. Browne, Son & Harding. It had a brick facade, which included the side of the auditorium that ran parallel to Brunswick Street. The line of the facade was by a square tower feature at the entrance end of the building. Seating was provided in the auditorium for 1,214 in the stalls and 744 in the circle. There was a stage, which was used in the early days and up until August 1946 for Sunday big band concerts. (Films were not allowed to be shown on Sundays in Gateshead until 1946).

Vincent Price in “House of Wax” was the first film to be screened here in 3D on 23rd November 1953, followed by the 3D version Howard Keel in “Kiss Me Kate”. The first CinemaScope film to be screened at the Ritz Cinema was Guy Madison in “The Command” on 24th November 1954.

The Ritz Cinema was closed on 18th May 1968 with Dennis Waterman in “Up the Junction”. It had been purchased in a compulsory purchase order to build the A1 road viaduct, a scheme which also destroyed the nearby Essoldo Theatre.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

CSWalczak on November 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Another exterior view of the Ritz Cinema.

terry on October 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm

I have uploaded a photo of the ABC Ritz taken from a different angle.

terry on October 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm

I have uploaded to the relevant section various interior shots of the Ritz including the projection box. This, like most North Eastern ABC’s, was not designed by in house architect, William Riddle Glen but by Percy L Brown & Harding of Newcastle. Other projects assigned to this company were the Regal Darlington (rebuild of C J Phipps' Theatre Royal), Forum Hartlepool, Ritz Wallsend, Savoy South Shields, Globe Stockton (not for ABC but acquired about a year after opening), Wallaw Blyth (for Walter Lawson but acquired by ABC in 1955). The latter two theatres bore many of the hallmarks of the ABC commissioned theatres and one could be forgiven for thinking that they were original circuit houses.

The only Glen theatre in the area was the Ritz Sunderland whilst others,namely the Haymarket Newcastle, Elite Middlesbrough, Coliseum Whitley Bay, Rex Consett, Olympia Newcastle *, Majestic Benwell * and Empire Stockton were acquired properties – not to forget the Essoldo Newcastle, of course!

There was a second theatre built for ABC in Hartlepool by Percy L Brown but, owing to the outbreak of WW2, it was never fitted out. This was the Comet Cinema, an unusual name for an ABC. At the end of hostilities the theatre was never opened and was used as a warehouse for most of its existence; a great pity as it looked from the outside like it would have been a very fine cinema. The keys were in the top drawer of the manager’s desk at the ABC Forum!

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