Pete Genders

Pete Genders

otbpetegenders

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.


We are a year on now, and after a few huge setbacks we have finally started the Ritz cinema regeneration project once again.

We have seen a fair amount of tears over the last year to get us to this stage, and after the devastating discovery of asbestos throughout the whole building, it looked like the project would die before it even began.

Thankfully, we have got past that stage now and the positive news is we are moving full steam ahead on the Ritz regeneration once more.

The negative news is we are right back to square one after spending a year removing the asbestos — and our entire project budget — to make the building safe.

Off The Bench founder Pete Genders with volunteer Alice Carter show The Lincolnite inside the Ritz cinema project progress. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

In pictures: See inside the Ritz regeneration project one year on

We now need more help in a range of ways, from directly helping us with the labour and building work, design and layout of the building, through to decoration.

You can also help us to organise a full array or fundraising events this year to raise the mammoth £100,000 target we need to complete the build.

We’re already organising two fundraising events – the first will be a Ritz Originals Poster Art Exhibition and In The Footsteps Of Giants will be the first live concert event to be held in the Ritz in over 20 years, featuring four of Lincoln’s hottest acts. You’ll find more details about the events on The Lincolnite soon.

So, I know it has been a long time since this project started but we hope 2013 will finally be the year we get this sleeping giant back on its feet.

The Ritz Cinema Regeneration Book

Over the last year I have wrote a book on the history of the Ritz, the present and the future of the building. The book outlines the plans we have and all the exciting projects we hope to achieve within the building.

To support the project and help us raise funds to complete the Ritz revival, you can preorder (available January 14) our Ritz Cinema book from the Off The Bench Shop.

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.

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.

OTB’s Jack Bennett shows off the vintage seats

— Off The Bench, a Lincoln-based voluntary organisation, have set out to bring back the Ritz cinema to its former glory. In the second of their weekly updates on the project, OTB’s Pete Genders has some very good news.


Three weeks into the project and today we receive delivery of our first large donation of help, in the form of no less then 320 vintage red cinema seats.

There has been a real buzz around the OTB Ritz camp this week with the confirmation of this phenomenal donation from Oldham Coliseum Theatre in Manchester.

After seeing the story of The Ritz regeneration on Facebook, The Lincolnite reader Al Dumcombe noticed an advert posted on an online forum offering the seats and passed the information on to us.

We couldn’t quite believe the opportunity and went frantically into some week-long negotiations with the Coliseum, culminating in the donation of the seats worth almost £100,000.

The OTB Team travelled up to Manchester on Wednesday to begin the task of removing the seats and loading them onto two delivery trucks, and today we have been unloading them into The Ritz.

Excitement is really setting in now as it’s clear today more than ever that The Ritz project is going to be a huge success for the people of Lincoln.

The hard work will now begin on the restoration of the seats. So now is your chance to get involved in our sponsor a seat appeal.

More on the OTB Ritz Cinema project:

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.