Inside the Lincoln Ritz cinema revamp project

A lot of work is needed to bring back the Ritz cinema on Lincoln’s High Street to its former glory, said Pete Genders (pictured) from Off The Bench, the non-profit organisation behind the restoration project.

As previously reported, the plan is to restore the cinema at the upper floors of the Ritz pub, screening both new and old films from £4.50.

To make this happen, pub chain J.D. Wetherspoon is leasing the upper floors of the former cinema building for the project, for free for the following five years.

While the pub will remain in place, the community cinema plans to host various themed nights and live acts, and act as a community hub too.

Maaike Veenkamp (23), Off The Bench’s development manager, looks at an old film roll in the Ritz cinema

The 480 seats in the main screening room are missing and Off The Bench hopes to get local companies and residents to sponsor a seat for £100 (its price) or get a season pass, and they will also get a special plaque on the seat they sponsored.

The Ritz Cinema opened in 1937. In 1954 it became the first cinema in Lincoln to have Cinemascope installed and was finally closed in March 1996.

The main screening room has no seats or projection screen

Off The Bench plan to host on February 22, 2012, at the 75th anniversary of the cinema, an open night in the foyer of the building where people and companies interested to help the project can attend and have a look around the building.

Meanwhile, the organisation is looking for grants to fund the project worth £750,000, and 66 residents already offered their help since Friday, including the cinema’s former projectionist.

Pete Genders said: “We need all the help we can get. We’re under no illusion that we can do this on our own, so we really need the help of everyone.

“We need people to volunteer to help us clear it out, decorate, it’d be fantastic if local businesses come on board to help us too.”

To get involved with the Ritz cinema restoration project, contact Pete Genders via email or by phone on 01522 837293.

Photos by Dominic Clark for The Lincolnite

The foyer area of the cinema

The projection room