Ritz Film Centre

Station Road,
Wigan, WN1

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Union Cinema Co. Ltd.

Architects: John Fairweather

Firms: John Fairweather & Son

Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Ritz Cinema, ABC Wigan

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Ritz Film Centre

Located in Wigan, Lancashire. The 2,560-seat Ritz Cinema was a project of George Green’s Scottish Cinemas chain, but in the early stages of construction it was taken over by the Union Cinemas chain. It was designed by Glasgow based architect John Fairweather. It opened as the Ritz Cinema on 7th March 1938 and was soon taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain. The proscenium was 53ft wide and it was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. There was a cafĂ© for the convenience of its patrons. Initial plans were for a Wurlitzer 3 manual 8 ranks organ to be installed but although the organ chambers were built they remained empty as the installation was cancelled.

In March 1962 it was re-named ABC. During the 1960’s the ABC hosted many one night concerts on its stage. On 28th May 1977 it was closed for conversion into a triple-screen cinema in the former circle area with 485-seats in ABC 1, 321-seats in ABC 2 and 106-seats in ABC 3. The stalls converted into a bingo club, eventually a Gala Bingo Club. These all opened in October 1977. The ABC was closed on 5th March 1983 when it was operated by Thorn-E.M.I. The cinema was reopened by an independent operator on 4th January 1984, operating as the Ritz Film Centre. It was closed on 19th April 1997. It has since been demolished

Contributed by SAMANTHA COLLINGS, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

JoeBGSU on April 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Photo’s I took in 2004, the year before demolition:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 26, 2010 at 9:48 am

The Ritz Cinema awating demolition in January 2005:
View link

terry on July 12, 2014 at 4:09 am

More about the ABC Ritz here :–


terry on November 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Photos uploaded to relevant section.

TLSLOEWS on February 11, 2018 at 8:11 am

The Beatles played there a photo is in the photo section.

terry on January 25, 2019 at 2:57 pm

1977 auditorium shot of the ABC Ritz uploaded. This was taken from the circle crossover just before the conversion team moved in.

The reopened building was, as in the case of Plymouth, Chester and Aldershot, a poor affair with two cinemas in the circle and a third screen in the former restaurant. This method of subdivision enabled Bingo to reign supreme in the stalls area.

EMI, like Rank, often did ‘drop wall’ conversions some of which, like Halifax and Northampton, were neat affairs retaining all the theatre’s impressive features with the ‘minis’ occupying only the circle under-hang. Sometimes,as in the case of Northampton, the front stalls seating was retained and the stage continued to be used.

It was a great pity, therefore, that the so called ‘Social Club’ division were not told ‘where to go'in the case of Wigan etc as their occupancy of the stalls and stage areas ensured that the results, at least as far as cinema was concerned, were very sorry states of affairs indeed.

At least Wigan had no Rank opposition but in the case of Plymouth and Chester where Rank had very fine theatres , ABC, having had equally impressive venues with full stage facilities, were then left well and truly in the shade.

curmudgeon on February 1, 2019 at 1:02 am

Sadly, when viewing JoeBGSU’s photo’s it seems demolition of this once fine building was merciful following the uninspired tripling of the ‘70’s.

terry on March 23, 2022 at 7:17 am

Re mention of the intended Wurlitzer organ. This actually arrived at the goods yard at Wigan North Western Station but before it could be un loaded a telegram was received to advise that the instrument had to instead go to the Ritz, Richmond, Surrey where the installation of a much larger instrument (15 ranks I believe) planned by Union Cinemas was cancelled by new operators, Associated British Cinemas.

Had the original plans come to fruition, Wigan would have had a Wurlitzer at the Ritz, a Christie at the County Playhouse and a Compton at the Court.

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