Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Ritz Cinema

The Ritz Cinema was situated on Travis Street. The site is now occupied by Iceland frozen foods. According to my Dad if you took a girl there she knew it was a serious date as it was the poshest of all picture houses in Hyde and on accounting that it cost more to get in than other cinema in Hyde. Unfortunately I haven't got a photograph of the front of the Ritz ,only the side as seen below. If anyone out there has a front view We'd be more than happy to show it here.

The Ritz cinema as seen from Union Street. 

The Ritz was built by ABC Cinemas ( Associated British Cinemas Ltd) and was opened on Monday February 21st 1938, the first film being “Double or Nothing” starring Bing Crosby.

It was about a dying millionaire who instructs his lawyer to drop four purses on the streets of New York City. Four honest people find them and return them to the lawyer. Under the terms of the will, each of them is given $1,000,000, which they must double within 30 days in order to claim his entire estate. However, the greedy relatives cut from the will are determined to thwart each one's plans 

The cost to get in was as follows, the stalls were 6d and 9d;, and the circle 1/- and 1/3d. The prices tie in with what Nancy's Dad said, and my friend Jack who both mentioned the cost made it the poshest cinema in town. There were daily matinees and performances twice nightly around the time the doors shut for the last time, but during its heyday (1940s-50s) performances were continuous from 1.30pm until 9.00pm.

What's On November 1946

I can recall going here when I was a small child and can remember even now it was considered more a treat to go to the Ritz than the Theatre Royal. I am sure I saw Mary Poppins here... Hyde saw the loss of the Ritz when it closed for good on Tuesday August 13th 1968. The last film to be shown was a 1963 film aptly called “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, starring Spencer Tracy, Micky Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry Thomas... and many more well known names. The fact the film was five years old says a lot... it might of ended on a laugh but I remember it was a sad day for Hyde when the choice was gone. My mum had worked in one or two picture houses and always had an interest in films.. I recall her saying it was a shame. 

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, After a long prison sentence Smiler Grogan is heading at high speed to a California park where he hid $350,000 from a job 15 years previously. He accidentally careers over a cliff in view of four cars whose occupants go down to help. The dying Grogan gives details of where the money is buried and when the witnesses fail to agree on sharing the cash, a crazy chase develops across the state.

As with a lot of old or disused cinemas it turned to a Bingo Hall.. I can not recall if it kept it's name or was known as something else. Knowing the folk of Hyde it might have changed it's name but I'm sure it would still have been known as the Ritz... in 1981 the building was demolished.

I could not have updated this post if it was not for information I gleaned from a scan I was sent, it came from a book called The History Of The Theatres And Cinemas Of Tameside, by David Owen. By all accounts a 'must read' book for anyone with a fondness for local history.

We would still like to add more to this post by including a picture of two of the Ritz... so please get in touch if you think you can help with this request.


Ghost of Red Pump St said...

My dad also says it was the poshest of the cinamas in Hyde too. I ve never seen any pics of the front but would love to if one comes up !!

Tom said...

It would be nice to get a picture of the frontage.. and the inside. I was talking last week about the 'Ritz' to my friend Jack.. he said the same about how posh it was... he recalls two palm trees in the foyer... and there was a commissionaire in full uniform - green with gold piping, white gloves and top-hat... I recall going there quite a few times...

Tom said...

I came across this on TMBC's website...

Development Opportunity Area: the area of car parks and commercial premises bounded by Union Street, Crook Street and Clarendon Street, to the east of The Mall and including the multi-storey car park.
This area has potential for retail development as an extension of the existing precinct or as a linked scheme, including provision of replacement car parking.

HTC7. The boundary of this proposal, situated on the eastern side of the shopping area up to the town centre by-pass, includes vacant land and car parking sites centred on Beeley Street and Reynold Street, plus certain existing buildings. This land could be assembled to form the site of an eastern extension to the recently refurbished shopping mall, or a separate form of retail development linked as conveniently as possible to the precinct, in either case providing improved facilities to the shopping centre as a whole.
The existing multi storey car park, which has recently undergone a considerable face-lift, could be retained or replaced in some way, according to the scale of any scheme which is formulated. Adequate servicing arrangements for existing as well as new shop units will also be necessary. The area has the benefit of high visibility and ready access from the existing town centre by-pass which is only a short distance from the M67 motorway.

Might after get down there and take more pictures before any future changes alter the area beyond any recognition.

harry said...

This cinema holds a special place in my heart as it's where I took my future wife on our first date in 1954 and yes we're still together.

Tom said...

Hello again Harry...
Great memory and great comment.. just the kind we hoped for.... can you recall what film you went to watch..

Anonymous said...

my friend has an 8mm film of the demolition of the ritz a chap called dennis went down every few days and filmed it being demolished its a sad film

Tom said...

I can well image it being a sad site. recall the Lads club being pull down and I was gutted. I know nowt about the working of these film sizes.. are they able to be digitalised or stills taken from them? There must be other such films about of Hyde... will have to keep our eyes open.

westarsteve said...

hello tom i have had the 8mm film transfered to dvd so i will take some stills off the film and send them to you i dont think dennis would have minded he died last year i think he would want people to see his work