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Report (Permission Visit) Ritz Cinema, Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent - July 2016

Discussion in 'Theatres and Cinemas' started by machineage, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. machineage

    machineage 28DL Full Member
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    My first ever report - please be nice to me :D

    I have a dreadful camera - and I'm no photographer! So I must apologise in advance for my efforts on that front!

    I am a lover of Art Deco / 1930s modernism bar none! I have followed the fate of many buildings from this period around the UK - and the few that lie within North Staffordshire. Alas many have been lost, more recently the beautiful Danilo Cinema (A. Glyn Sherwin) which once stood in Stoke city centre, and the superb Thistley Hough High School which stood in Penkhull.

    This is one of the last vestiges of Art Deco in Stoke that is in many respects unaltered. I have visited the venue before when it was placed on the market a few years ago. The photos here are a mix of those from that previous visit and those taken on 2nd July 2016. I didn't manage to gain access to the former cafe during my previous visit - but I did this time. Today (Sunday 3rd July) was the last day of business for 'Tower Bingo' bringing to an end that particular chapter. What lies ahead is somewhat less certain. The cinema is shortly to be subjected to a 'full refurbishment' into an 'Asian wedding venue'. I dread to think what may happen to all of the beautiful and original Art Deco elements. IIRC the cinema was forwarded for listing in 2009 - alas that failed.

    What lies within are many original and striking Art Deco features (for Stoke!) including a pretty much unaltered auditorium resplendent with fantastic indirect lighting (currently inoperative), original proscenium, plasterwork, skirting, seating (circle), concealed heating (see if you can spot it!).

    The former cafe has been used as a store over the years. I heard it was once used as a dance school. Again it retains many original features - not least the beautiful stained glass skylights.

    The projection room was inaccessible - it is leased to a communications company who have their masts mounted aloft.

    I also shot a couple of videos - I'll attempt to upload these later.

    From Cinema Treasures:

    Located in the Staffordshire ‘Potteries’ town of Tunstall. The Ritz Cinema was opened on 10th September 1934 with Joan Crawford in “Dancing Lady” and Jack Hobbs in “Trouble in Store”. It was independently operated by a company headed by Robert Berrasford. The entrance was created in an already existing building on the High Street, with the auditorium built some distance back behind other High Street buildings. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels with decorations in a mix of Chinese/Art Deco styles. The proscenium was 22 feet wide. There was a cafe, a car park and also a bicycle and pram park.

    It was taken over by the Southan Morris chain, and then became part of the Essoldo chain from 17th October 1954, and was re-named Essoldo from 3rd March 1957. In 1973, it became part of the Classic Cinemas chain and was re-named Classic, but was closed on 29th June 1974 with “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad”. It was taken over by an independent operator and re-opened as the Ritz Cinema, using the circle seating area only. This was not successful and closed on 30th September 1974.

    It was converted into a bingo club, becoming a Mecca Bingo Club, then later a Walkers Bingo Club. A false ceiling was inserted extending from the front of the circle to the proscenium, which hid from view the upper parts of the auditorium and made the circle unusable. Walkers Bingo closed in 1991, but it was later reopened under an independent management and known as the Ritz Luxury Bingo Club (although the Walkers signage remained on the entrance of the building). In November 2013 it was purchased by a new independent operator and re-opened as the Tower Bingo Club. The false ceiling has been removed allowing a full view of the auditorium one again. The Tower Bingo Club closed by summer of 2016 and the building has been purchased by new owners to be converted into a banquet hall.



    On with the photos - and apologies again for the quality & profound lack of professionalism!

    An existing building was used to form the entrance of the Ritz - the Art Deco auditorium was constructed to the rear - the roof of which can bee seen beyond
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    Stairway to the circle - original metalwork
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    Upper lobby with original plasterwork
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    Original skirting
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    Original high level loos!
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    The cafe which retains the fantastic skylights, plasterwork & concealed heating
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    Original circle seats:
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    Auditorium
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    Proscenium detail & decoration
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    Fabulous indirect lighting which is currently inoperative - the bulbs are in situ
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  2. Techwreckie

    Techwreckie 28DL Regular User
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    Great report, thanks!
     
  3. KM_Punk

    KM_Punk Muppet
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    Nicely done and well done on your first report :thumb
    There's some nice features here
    Cheers for sharing
     
  4. GRONK

    GRONK 28DL Regular User
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    Nice place mate, not seen this one before. :)
     
  5. Mini nut

    Mini nut My local and favourite, gone.
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    Trust me - when the asians have got through with this place it will be un-recognizable. There are no constraints on what they do and they will gut and start afresh in their style. Sorry, but that`s our future now. Anyways up, nice report me old china and a good set of photos. At least we`ll have those to look back on.
     
  6. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    What is our future??
     
  7. Mini nut

    Mini nut My local and favourite, gone.
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    If You`re an asian or any derivative thereof the future is rosy. If you are white English there IS no future.
     
  8. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    WOW that's depressing... speak for yourself mate, I think my future looks fine :)
     
  9. Mini nut

    Mini nut My local and favourite, gone.
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    Good for you. I`m glad I`m as old as I am, I hope to be dead and gone when the balloon goes up.
     
  10. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Cheer up mate, it could be a whole lot worse!! We are very lucky to live in a country like this! Things aren't all bad :)
     
    Esoteric Eric likes this.
  11. Almost_Over

    Almost_Over 28DL Full Member
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    Looks like a great find. Love Art Deco and so many wonderful examples of it (esp. theatres and cinemas) are sadly being lost in the UK. Thank goodness we still have some wonderful preserved examples in London (Hammersmith Apollo, etc.).
    @Mini nut I don't know what you're on about though and I don't think I like the Britain First style undertones....
     
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  12. Esoteric Eric

    Esoteric Eric 28DL Regular User
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    Cracking report. I am also a big fan of the Art Deco.
     
  13. machineage

    machineage 28DL Full Member
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    Well it has been reported that the new owners 'aim' to retain the period detail... I really do hope they can see the merit in retaining such wonderful Art Deco features which are rare in Stoke - and getting rarer nationally. I hope they also repair / retain the leaded skylights in the cafe and open them up again to light. There is one above the stairwell IIRC which is presently obscured by an awful false ceiling.

    It would also be fantastic to see the indirect lighting features which flank the auditorium walls working again. Nothing quite works as well to create an atmosphere in an auditorium such as this like indirect / coloured lighting :)

    http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/plan...edding-venue/story-29647355-detail/story.html
     
    Esoteric Eric likes this.
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