A fund-raising project to pay for the reopening of Lincoln's Ritz cinema is under way and to help boost the coffers, the team behind the revamp will screen the first ever film which was shown at the venue. Ryan Butcher finds out more...
The year was 1937. Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister, the 999 emergency number was first introduced and The Hobbit was published sending shock waves through the world of literature.
Meanwhile, in Lincoln, The Ritz cinema in High Street opened its doors for the very first time, changing entertainment in the city forever.
The Ritz quickly became a bustling hub for residents, offering the latest cinematic releases and live entertainment.
And since the announcement from Off the Bench last week that the much-loved landmark would be reopened to the public, excitement from residents has been paramount, matching that of 1937.
On Saturday, February 22, The Ritz will celebrate its 75th anniversary.
And the Echo can now exclusively reveal that Off the Bench will be hosting a special screening of San Francisco – the first film ever shown at the cinema, starring Academy Award-winning and iconic actor Clark Gable.
While the original cinema seating has long-since been ripped away, temporary chairs will be set up to cater for the audience, although admission is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
For many, it will be the first chance to see inside The Ritz in 15 years. And bosses at Off the Bench hope those who attend the free event will be moved to pledge their support to the venue.
Pete Genders, chief executive officer at Off the Bench, said: "After some consultation with our Facebook steering group, the decision was made to screen San Francisco staring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald.
"This has been chosen as it was the first film ever screened at The Ritz when they originally opened in 1937.
"The aim of the evening is to give local people and businesses a chance to view the building in the semi-derelict state that it is and give them an idea of just how much help and support is needed both manually and financially.
"We hope that from the evening we will find some local businesses who want to invest in this fantastic community project and also draw attention to our 'sponsor a seat' and season ticket appeal."
As previously reported in the Echo, the refit of the cinema is expected to cost around £750,000. To help drum up funds, Off the Bench is appealing to local businesses to sponsor one of the 480 new seats for £100. Film fans can also buy an advance season ticket to the cinema for the same price.
It is hoped the cinema will be used as a social space while serving as a bridge between the local and migrant community in Lincoln's city centre.
Architects and builders at Sam Reid Services Ltd have now completed building plans which are currently being compared with the original blueprints found at Lincoln Archives.
To book your seat at The Ritz 75th anniversary call Off the Bench on 01522 837293.