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Flashback to 1937 for grand reopening of Lincoln's Ritz cinema

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 20, 2012

  • Marketing and communications officer Mikey Skinner with a poster of San Francisco starring Clark Gable, which was the first film to be shown at the Ritz in Lincoln in the 1937.

  • The Ritz cinema in Lincoln's High Street

  • The Ritz cinema in Lincoln's High Street

  • Cinemascope equipment at the Ritz

  • Cinemascope equipment at the Ritz

  • The Ritz pub in Lincoln's High Street

  • The auditorium which was screen one

  • Three seats left in the auditorium which was screen one.

  • Some of the old notes bearing The Ritz logo

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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.

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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.

PREVIOUS ARTICLES

JANUARY 19: Initial survey of Lincoln's Ritz cinema project completed...

JANUARY 14: Help still required to restore Lincoln's Ritz cinema to its former glory...

JANUARY 13: Ritz cinema reopening 'could unite a whole community' in Lincoln...

JANUARY 6: Lincoln's Wetherspoons pub The Ritz to re-open as cinema after 15 years...

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  • TB789  |  February 18 2012, 11:41AM

    Mr Genders, You have failed to answer my question (surprise, surprise). The, have you had any funding from a council one? I note here: http://tinyurl.com/6qw6oux it states: "As well as initial funding from City of Lincoln Council, Off the Bench has applied for a Heritage Lottery grant and the scheme has been supported by JD Wetherspoons." Been telling a few porkys have you?? I also note that on your facebook page you've asked for help because people are being 'mean'. "There are several people being quite mean about us and The Ritz project on thisislincolnshire latest news article (see below) would be a massive help if you guys could support this story and comment, and rate the good comments, and down rate the bad comments. A bit of call for help really from you guys to support the outstandingly good work we are doing to resurrect The Ritz. Please help..." Aw didums. Did you suck your thumb and cry for a while? What a sad, pathetic way for a 'Chief Executive' to behave. You object to opinions other than those that think you are credible then? I would get used to it. What's happened to the screening of San Francisco? Gone a bit quiet. Failed already have you? Lies and failure.

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  • streaky09  |  February 04 2012, 8:54AM

    TB789: I'm surprised that you remember the Ritz but not that the Echo always did it's photos until recent in B&W - my guess is when they went digital (colour yourself without a lab on film is an expensive complex nightmare, B&W not so much). Also support != funding. Get a grip and chill out.

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  • urboring  |  January 22 2012, 8:36PM

    Ooh I know - the irony would be a complete thicketer like tb78whine trying to be clever. Amirite? Yes I am.

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  • TB789  |  January 22 2012, 8:15PM

    "As for TB78whine, there's nothing quite like reverting to personal insults to demonstrate just how comprehensively you've lost the argument." Spot the irony. Hilarious.

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  • Numb_Chumpy  |  January 22 2012, 6:04PM

    "And look if the business was viable why did it shut down" Because, AS HAS BEEN POINTED OUT BEFORE, at the time it was owned by Odeon and they wanted to move to new premises. As for TB78whine, there's nothing quite like reverting to personal insults to demonstrate just how comprehensively you've lost the argument. Your dismal attempts at heckling lie shattered around your feet as testament to your utter failure and your humiliation is now complete. As intellectual train wrecks go, it's quite spectacular. Well done.

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  • mattlaffs  |  January 22 2012, 1:24PM

    Well done Otb on starting a very worthwhile and exciting project, I know it's going to be an inspiration to the community as a whole, I can't wait to see the Ritz reopened, it reminds me of a very similar project that is coming to fruition in St Albans, have a look at their website http://tinyurl.com/7zlocu4 Certainly a very good source of information and inspiration, the project lead, James has already restored the Rex in Berkhamsted, running since 2004. Anyway, that's just one of many successful projects where communities have come together to achieve great things.

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  • EchoPhoto  |  January 21 2012, 7:19PM

    TB789 I am very surprised about your suggestion that the Echo has "doctored" a picture. "Doctored" is a very emotive word to use just because it is black and white. I am also puzzled by what relevance it has to the Ritz project. Just to clear things up, in 1993 the vast majority of press photographs were still taken in black and white for speed and because most press print was still monochrome. Occasionally some press photos were taken using colour negative film (so that members of the public could buy colour prints) . But even on these rare occasions a black and white print was still produced (from the colour negative) for the paper. The picture in question from the 1990's was copied from a black and white print that it is why it is black and white. As for the picture showing the inside of the cinema ,the kids are members of the cinema's children's club who look like they don't give two hoots about how comfortable the seats are, or not, because they are just enjoying the experience of being at the cinema.

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  • snakeoilsales  |  January 21 2012, 6:50PM

    oh my bad 750000 is closer to a million than not, and that is estimated costs at the start of the venture it will rise by at least 10-20% before the end, if it gets done. And look if the business was viable why did it shut down, the demand is there from the community, but the overheads must make the ticket price to high to be competitive. That's why i think it was a mistake naming the price now. That's should have been done later, also what happen if the Odeon Lincoln decides to cut their prices, how would this affect their business plan, the cinema business was up until a couple of years ago in dire situation, then they launched 3d to get people back it has worked but it looks like that bubble is going to burst also, that's why i say if i was an investor i would not give to this project as it is likely to fail in the long term. Sorry but that's it

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  • Numb_Chumpy  |  January 21 2012, 2:45PM

    "Hope that if people look beneath the surface and explore the cold hard business facts that if it was viable someone else would have already done it" Yeah, because every single viable business opportunity across the UK has already been snapped up by someone else, hasn't it? "slightly economical with the truth" "go on give em a MILLION POUNDS" Oh dear, snake oil fails again. They aren't asking for a million pounds. Now who's being economical with the truth? "I'll make it even simpler - have you had any money from a council? If yes, how much and for what?" Reading isn't your strong point, is it, dear?

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  • Otblincs  |  January 21 2012, 1:30PM

    snakeoilsales Thanks again for your comments and support, this is great and a huge help, yes as you can see our website needs updating with the new staff, we are currently shortlisting for our own in house Web Developer & Graphic Design intern from Lincoln University (If any interested the Jobs can be found on LIncoln Uni website) so we can have daily updates. Of course we don't include the qualifications of the members of boards and committees as they are not paid staff, so not really part of the staff team. I'm sure you realise that but great valid point that needed clarification. We have grown so much over the past 6 months that our current website is a few months out of date, our three new offices are not even on there yet and no details on The Ritz project, as yet, but two new websites will be live by the 22nd Feb so please do watch out for those exciting and interactive sites. We are indeed going to be very busy updating and getting all the information on there, you have given us a fantastic idea though which we will definitely be implementing on the new site - staff experience and qualifications, I think you are completely right, we need these on there in full detail, every qualification and relevant experience so people can view these and make educated responses. Thanks for that, I think maybe we should employ yourself as a consultant as you are excellent at highlighting the strong points and experience of OTB and really getting the information out there for us, it's always hard to convey all relevant details on a company website so great to have a insight in what people want to see and really positive to have constructive comments like your own so we can continually improve of core service offer. Thanks again, these are just the kind of constructive comments we need to further establish our successful brand and prove our credibility in all three sectors we work across. Warmest Regards otblincs

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