Bexhill-on-Sea, TN40 1QF
Owners: Union Cinemas Ltd.
Architect: Samuel Beverley of Verity and Beverley.
Building contractor: Lovells from Eastbourne.
Seating capacity: 1200.
Date opened: Monday January 18th 1937.
Opened by: Mayor of Bexhill, Alderman William Cuthbert, JP .
First General Manager: L.G.Pennington.
First film shown: ‘ The Three Maxims’, starring Anna Neagle and Tullio Carminati.
Acquired by Associated British Cinemas: October 1937.
Date closed as a full time cinema: Saturday 2nd December 1961.
Building demolished: 1968.
The picturesque seaside town of Bexhill on Sea was home to a number of cinemas, which included the Playhouse and the Bijou, which later became the St George’s and finally the Savoy.
On Monday January 18th 1937 the Ritz cinema opened. It was run by Union cinemas, later taken over by ABC. Before the Ritz was built a a skating rink stood on the site. The opening ceremony for the Ritz was performed by the Mayor of Bexhill, William Cuthbert JP, accompanied by Mrs Cuthbert.
After welcoming the Mayor and Mayoress, controller of Union Cinemas, Leslie C. Holderness, said that it was the policy of the company to take into every town cinemas that would meet the requirements of everyone.
The 1200 seat cinema was designed by Samuel Beverley of Verity and Beverley. The general contractors were Lovells from Eastbourne.
The colour scheme in the auditorium was graded tones of terra cotta peach and gold with the seats and carpet in harmony.
It was stated that a unique feature in the lighting scheme is the herring bone effect on the side walls, obtained by the employment of special lighting units in the base of the columns. The main ceiling lighting was also the finest example of its kind.
Up in the operating box Western Electric sound was employed. This was changed in 1959 to RCA.
The opening attraction was ‘ The Three Maxims’ with ‘Crash Donovan as the supporting feature. Ann Penn a famous impressionist made an appearance and was a big attraction. The first to manage the hall was L.G.Pennington.
On the 2nd December 1961 the cinema closed and was converted into bingo. This was short lived and bingo ceased in 1962. The building remained empty until 1968. Then the wrecking ball came calling and a telephone exchange was built on the site.
David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk