28 High Street,
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A classic Art Deco style cinema which opened as the Ritz Cinema on 13th May 1937 with Peter Lorre in “Crack Up” and Rochelle Hudson in Woman Wise". It was built by the Union Cinemas chain who were taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in October 1937. It originally had a Wurlitzer 3Manual/7Ranks organ (with illuminated console and grand piano) installed, which was opened by organist Harold Ramsay.
The Ritz Theatre was built to compete with the Empire Cinema next door. Like the Empire Cinema, it staged variety shows as well as movies and in the mid-1960’s staged pop shows starring Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, etc. In February 1961 it was re-named ABC.
It was closed on 28th May 1977 for conversion into a 3-screen cinema and a bingo club. ABC 1,2,3 opened 6th October 1977 with seating provided for 313, 187 and 150. In 1986 it was taken over by the Cannon Group and was re-named Cannon in late-1986. Taken over by Cineven it became the Odeon but was closed on 10th July 2003. The final films were “Charlie’s Angels-Full Throttle”, “Bruce Almighty” and “Fast & Furious”. This is a fine example of an Art Deco style provincial ‘super cinema’ worthy of preservation. The Gala Bingo Club remains open in 2015.
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