Ritz Cinema, Anfield, Liverpool.

Ritz Cinema

25-29 Utting Avenue,

Liverpool, L4 7UN


Original Owners: Ritz Picture House (Liverpool) Ltd.  

Architects:  Mr and Mrs R L Kenton joined forces with Alfred Adams.

Cost:  £20000.

Capacity:  1120 seats.

Date opened:  Saturday 16th March 1929.

First Films Shown:  ‘The Joker’, ‘Sailors Don’t Care’ and ‘The Betrayal’.

First Sound Film Shown:  ‘Fox Movietone Follies of 1929’, starring Lola Lane and John Breedon, on Monday 7th April 1930.

First CinemaScope Film:   ‘The Robe’, starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature. Monday 10th January 1955.

Closure As A Cinema:  Sunday 30th June 1957.

Final Films Shown: ‘The Raid’, starring Van Heflin and Anne Bancroft.  ‘Bomber’s Moon’ starring George Montgomery and Kent Taylor,

Building Extant:  Retail business. 



When Anfield Postmasters, Mr and Mrs R L Kenton joined forces with Alfred Adams, a director of the Clubmoor Cinema Ltd, to form the Ritz Picture House (Liverpool) Ltd, their intention was to construct a 1000 plus seat cinema on a prominent site on the corner of Utting Avenue and Bidston Road, in the district of Anfield, Liverpool.

Lionel Arthur George Prichard

The renowned and talented architect, Lionel A G Pritchard, whose flourishing career during the 1920’s with commissions for Art Deco/Classical picture houses across the North West, and in particular Liverpool, was the director’s choice to prepare plans for their new cinema, working within a budget of £20000.

With a modest corner entrance, faced with panels of terracotta. The inset entrance frame was supported either side by two decorative columns supporting the horizontal entablature. Projecting out over the entrance was an eye-catching metal and glass canopy, with a deep valance that had the Super Ritz Cinema, cut in stencil fashion, and glazed to allow lamps from behind to light up the signage. There was also four large globe lights and floodlights attached to the top of the canopy. Above this were three windows at first floor level, framed in classical style stone design, complementing the lavish design at parapet level that incorporated the Ritz name in the stone work.

The well-proportioned entrance foyer had a seamless and robust terrazzo floor. Here the paybox was located. A small staircase led to the rear stalls where there was a raised section of seating and doors to the central section of the stalls. At peak business, a separate entrance and paybox for the front stalls was put into operation, further down on the Bidston Road side of the cinema.

A prominent feature in the auditorium was that the side walls were adorned with Egyptian murals in various tones of clay. Upholstered in red plush velvet were 1120 seats fixed on to a raked floor, thus ensuring that the screen could be viewed comfortably from all parts of the stadium hall. The curtained proscenium, complete with a small stage and pit for an orchestra could be put to use for cine-variety. The house tabs (curtains) were in a pale beige colour.

The Ritz was to be the final purpose-built cinema in Liverpool to open with a silent feature film on Saturday 16th March 1929. The doors opened for the first time to capacity audiences to see ‘The Joker’, ‘Sailors Don’t Care’ and ‘The Betrayal’. All silent films were with the accompaniment of a full orchestra, screened at 3pm and a continuous evening performance from 6.15pm.  Admission prices ranged from 3d to 1/.

In just over a year the talkies arrived at the Ritz with the installation of British Thomson Houston sound system. The first film shown with sound was ‘Fox Movietone Follies of 1929’, starring Lola Lane and John Breedon, on Monday 7th April 1930.

Initially business was buoyant as customers flocked to see a wide choice of first run feature films. Unfortunately, this level of patronage was to be short lived. As more cinemas opened in neighbouring districts, and in particular as the major circuits such as Gaumont British and Associated British Cinemas moved into Liverpool, taking over many independent operators and opening their own super cinemas. The stream of first run quality films was diverted away from the Ritz as these powerful circuits could demand a barring clause to be adopted. Independent circuits, within a certain distance, were not allowed to show films concurrently with cinemas operated by the major circuits. The situation deteriorated even further when Odeon Theatres moved into the city, and joined the strangle hold on 1st run films.

Despite the strong competition, and as many considered it, the unfair barring policy, the Ritz maintained a reasonable level of business during the 1940s heyday of cinema, showing mainly films that had been already been played by the competition.

As the cinema entered the 1950s, admissions started to drop, so much so that matinee performances stopped on certain days of the week. However, due to a squabble between distributors and exhibitors, the Ritz was selected by Twentieth Century Fox to play their first run films. CinemaScope and magnetic stereophonic sound were installed.

Click the above frame to view ‘The Robe’ trailer.

The first of these opened on Monday 10th January 1955 with ‘The Robe’, starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature. Continuous performances were re-instated as admissions improved. The flow of first run TCF films was not enough to sustain the regained admissions. After a few months, the matinee restrictions were re-introduced. This compounded the fall in ticket sales and a decision was made to close completely. Becoming the first cinema casualty in Anfield.

The Raid’, starring Van Heflin and Anne Bancroft, together with ‘Bomber’s Moon’ starring George Montgomery and Kent Taylor, were the final films to be shown at the Ritz Cinema, on Sunday 30th June 1957.

The building was then used by a coach operator and later for various retail ventures.