Description: Ritz Cinema
Date Listed: 4 September 2008
English Heritage Building ID: 505449
OS Grid Reference: SP3595691999
OS Grid Coordinates: 435956, 291999
Latitude/Longitude: 52.5247, -1.4715
1727/0/10038 ABBEY STREET
04-SEP-08 Ritz Cinema
A cinema, latterly used as a bingo hall, dating from 1937, designed in a Moderne style by architects Verity and Beverley for the Union Cinema Circuit.
MATERIALS: The building is constructed from pinkish-red brick with concrete dressings. The windows are metal-framed, Crittall-type examples. The interior is a confection of plaster and metalwork.
PLAN: The building is a simple rectangle on plan, with a curved corner to the junction of the Roanne Ringway and Abbey Street, housing the entrance to the building. The interior has a large foyer and grand staircases, leading to a single, undivided auditorium, with a balcony to the rear, and a stage with proscenium arch remaining in situ.
EXTERIOR: The exterior is a stylish and streamlined Moderne composition, on a corner plot, with a central curved section set on the corner breaking upwards above the height of the flanking ranges. The building has a high ground floor and three further storeys, topped by a brick parapet. The building has a strong horizontal emphasis, with the floor articulated by concrete floor rafts which form plat bands running around the entire structure. The curved corner section has three openings at ground floor level, each housing double doors, above which runs a cantilevered, quadrangular canopy. There are single windows on each of two levels, flanking the applied sign reading GALA BINGO CLUBS which takes the place of the earlier cinema branding. Brick pilasters define the break between the curved corner section and the return ranges. The wall surface of the northern elevation, which is of eight bays, is further articulated by similar, regularly spaced brick pilasters, running from ground level to the parapet. The Abbey Street return is shorter, and has metal-framed windows similar to those in the corner section, together with a small projecting balcony with decorative railings at second floor level.
INTERIOR: The interior has an impressive, highly-coloured decorative scheme incorporating Art Deco, Neo-Egyptian and Chinoiserie inspired motifs, with repeated fretwork panels based on lotus leaf motifs. The foyer has a deeply coffered ceiling with recessed, polygonal panels, square columns with foliate capitals and a good deal of gilding; the original, heavy, multi-panelled doors remain in situ. The wide staircases have elegant iron balustrades with curved and geometric motifs. The auditorium, which has a balcony to the rear, has a deeply coffered ceiling, original ceiling lights and a highly decorative overall scheme with fluted columns, moulded, curving cornices and extensive moulded and fluted elements to the proscenium and ante-proscenium, as well as large, gilt fretwork panels with lotus leaf motifs, and a wealth of painted decoration. The former stage area is now fitted out to accommodate the functions of the bingo hall which latterly occupied the building.
HISTORY: The architects Verity and Beverley, renowned as creators of cinemas and theatres of the period, designed the cinema in Abbey Street for the Union Cinema Circuit, and the building was opened on 23 July 1937. By October of that year, Union Cinemas had became financially overstretched (soon afterwards going bankrupt), and the circuit's cinemas had been taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC). The cinema became a Ritz by the 1960s, and continued in use until its closure on 18 June 1984. The building was then taken over by Gala Bingo, and reopened as a bingo hall, with its impressive interior fully restored. The bingo hall closed in January 2008.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION:
The former Ritz Cinema on Abbey Street in Nuneaton is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* The cinema is an elegant and streamlined Moderne design of some quality, by renowned cinema architects, Verity and Beverley
* It was created for the Union Cinema chain, recognised for its lavish investment in high quality cinema buildings, in particular their highly-decorative interiors, very few of which now survive
* The building is in all essential respects entirely as constructed, without major alterations, and unusually, the auditorium remains intact, without later subdivisions
* The extensive and high-quality interior scheme remains almost entirely intact, with impressive Art Deco, Neo-Egyptian and Chinoiserie-inspired decoration carried through the foyer, staircases, auditorium, stage, ante-proscenium and proscenium
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.