Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Thursday, 9 June 2016

"Fancy Going To The Flicks ?"

The Ritz Cinema,
Barnsley, Yorkshire.
Classic Art-Deco Design.

The Ritz Cinema,
Available on YouTube at

The Ritz Cinema was built for the Union Cinemas chain and was designed by the architectural firm Verity and Beverley, who were assisted by Union’s ‘in-house’ architect Ernest F. Tulley.

Union opened the Ritz Cinema on 22 March 1937 (the same day as their Ritz Cinema, Chatham, Kent). The opening film was William Powell in “My Man Godfrey”. The facade was of white stone and had a stepped outline. At night, it was quite spectacular as it was covered with many bands of neon tube lighting, as well as having the RITZ name located on a double-sided vertical sign and the name UNION CINEMAS mounted in large illuminated letters on top.

It was a spacious and lavishly-designed Cinema which was well equipped with a large Stage and many Dressing Rooms. It held the distinction of being the 2,000th Cinema in The U.K. to be equipped with the Western Electric Sound System, and a plaque was mounted on the foyer wall to commemorate this.

The Wurlitzer 3Manual/7Rank Theatre Organ was not ready for the opening, and had its own special opening on 26 April 1937, when H. Robinson Cleaver played on the console, which was on a lift, was illuminated, and had a Grand Piano attached. The longest-serving Resident Organist at The Ritz was Trevor Willetts, who played from 1943 until 1962. The Organ was removed in 1969, when it was sold to a private buyer.

In October 1937, Union Cinemas were taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and The Ritz was later (in 1961) re-named ABC. It closed on 16 March 1974, with Reg Varney, in “Holiday on the Buses”, as the last film. The Cinema was subsequently demolished.

Text contributed by Ken Roe to CINEMA TREASURES

The Ritz Cinema,
Viewing: Photo | Street View

The following Text is from THE BARNSLEY CHRONICLE

Historic Ritz "Wurlitzer" found.


A Wurlitzer Organ, which entertained thousands of patrons at the former Ritz Cinema, has been found - more than half-a-Century after it was last seen in Barnsley.

The Ritz Cinema, on Peel Street, Barnsley, closed in 1974, but the Organ was removed beforehand, in 1965.

Brian Hague, who grew up in Barnsley, but now lives at Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey, was invited to become an ABC Monitor, at the Ritz Cinema, when he was a pupil at Barnsley Grammar School in the mid-1940s.

As a 'Monitor', his job was to help control queues of young children at the ABC Minors' Saturday Morning Shows.

Brian Hague, reunited with the Wurlitzer Organ after sixty years.

"It was a great time and my affinity with the Ritz Cinema and the Wurlitzer Organ has remained until today," he said. "What sadness I experienced when, on one of my annual visits to Barnsley, I discovered the Ritz had been demolished."

For many years he tried find out what happened to the Organ, without success, but a chance conversation, with another Organ enthusiast, led to the revelation that the man was actually restoring the same Organ in his back garden in Brentford, South London.

Keen Pianist, Brian, said: "He invited me to go to his house to view the Organ. We had a very happy evening and I was able to play a tune on it.

"It was my birthday and I was able to celebrate a reunion with a very old friend I had not seen, or heard of, for nearly sixty years.

"When I played the Organ, it gave me goose pimples, it was just wonderful."

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