April 6, 2012 8.00 am This story is over 139 months old

Ritz Cinema welcomes first visitors in 16 years

Trip down memory lane: Emotions have been flowing this week as The Ritz saw its first visitors for over 16 years.

Former Ritz patron Shari Hellyer and her husband, the first people to tour the cinema in 16 years

— 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 instalment of their updates on the project, OTB’s Pete Genders has been showing people around the cinema.

Emotions have been flowing this week as The Ritz saw its first visitors for over 16 years.

Patrons of the past and future have been taking organised tours of this sleeping giant whilst giving their input and insights on this regeneration project.

We really want as many people as possible to get involved with this project and offer their stories and memories of The Ritz and have an input in the future feel and design of the building.

In order to achieve this we have opened the doors of The Ritz this week to offer people a look behind scenes and rummage through the rumble of this once magnificent building.

It’s been fantastic to hear people’s stories and memories and saw quite a few tears throughout the week.

The most important thing for this project is to get the whole community working together to bring the cinema back to life and we have certainly achieved that this week.

Visitors who have been lucky enough to take the tour so far have been from all over the city, from former staff and patrons of The Ritz, to students and photographers who have never been in the building before and knew nothing of its cinematic past.

A varied mix of ages, but all having the same awe-struck reaction ‘WOW!’

First through the doors was Lincolnite and former Ritz patron Shari Hellyer, who said: “Touring the Ritz was a fantastic nostalgia trip down memory lane with the lovely Maaike from OTB who kindly and enthusiastically showed us around The Ritz as it is now.

“We thought we were only going to be half hour, but stayed for almost 2 hours as there was so much to see and talk about, quite emotional,” Shari said.

We are going to continue with the tours next week, so if you want to see this building before renovation begins, and become part of the consultation and design process, please do get in touch.

Pete Genders runs Off The Bench, a Lincoln-based voluntary organisation that has set out at the beginning of 2012 to bring back the Ritz cinema to its former glory. The organisation works with dozens of youth volunteers across the city, helping keep them off the streets, and also organises the Zombie Run.