Ritz Cinema at 75: The show must go on

The original plans for the Ritz Cinema were found in the Lincolnshire Archives

— Off The Bench, a Lincoln-based voluntary organisation, have set out to bring back the Ritz cinema to its former glory. In this week’s update on the project, OTB’s Michael Skinner looks back the 75th anniversary of the cinema.


Today marks the 75th anniversary since the Ritz Cinema originally opened its doors in 1937. Although we’re not at the stage that we hoped we would be at this point, we remain confident that the project is moving in the right direction.

As announced by The Lincolnite yesterday, we have had to postpone tonight’s commemorative anniversary event due to current restriction and access issues to the building.

However, the show must go on, and we would still like to take this opportunity to remember the 75 year history of a local landmark and provide you an update on the situation.

On February 22, 1937, The Ritz Cinema had its opening night with a screening of San Francisco starring Clarke Gable and Jeanette MacDonald. 75 years on, we have come across the original building plans that were drawn up, stamped and signed off in 1936.

These were located in the Lincolnshire Archives and they display the design and layout of the building in its original form. Ourselves and SRS Builders have been fascinated by these, being able to compare them to the designs for our vision of the venue.

View the original plans on the Facebook gallery

Even in 1936, the design to construction completion was a quick turnover, and this is something that we have revealed we would like to replicate. However, due to the building being left to deteriorate upstairs for such a long period, and the state that it is in, we appreciate the task is not a quick one.

With procedures and processes that are now in place to ensure safety and the right regulations are followed, that weren’t there in 1936, we have to ensure that everything is present and correct. We’d much rather take a little longer to make sure things are done correctly to open the cinema, rather than rush and make mistakes which may further delay the project.

We therefore thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope that you continue to give us your full support and backing for the project. Without the whole of the community behind us we know that this project wouldn’t be possible. Once we have clearance, we can assure you that we will inform you of the revised date for the special screening.

Together we’ll get there and it will all be worthwhile to have such a great community venue in place.