ABC Southgate

174 Bowes Road,
London, N11 2JG

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: Major William James King

Functions: Church

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Ritz Cinema

Nearby Theaters

ABC Southgate

Located in the north London district of Southgate. Built and designed by Major W.J. King as one of several Ritz Cinemas planned for a small chain, the project was sold to Associated British Cinemas (ABC) prior to completion. It opened as the Ritz Cinema on 21st December 1933 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in “The Narrow Corner” and John Wayne in “His Private Secretary”.

Styled in a rather plain Art Deco style, the auditorium runs parallel to the main Bowes Road (which today is part of the North Circular Road around London) and was hidden from view by a parade of shops. Inside the auditorium, the main features were a central dome in the ceiling and abstract decorative designs on the splay walls each side of the proscenium. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Rank theatre organ which was opened by Alex Taylor. Additional facilities included a 52-seat cafe and a large car park.

It was re-named ABC from 1969 and in April 1970 it was fitted out as a ‘Luxury Lounge’ cinema with new spacious seating and carpeting in the stalls area which now contained 588 seats, while the balcony became un-used.

The ABC closed on 16th February 1974 with Brigitte Bardot in “The Legend of Frenchie King” (Les Petroleuses) and Leslie Phillips in “Not Now Darling”. It lay empty for a while and was then purchased by Jehovah’s Witnesses who now use it as an Assembly Hall. It has been well maintained and restored to near original condition.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

markthemod on August 22, 2006 at 11:45 pm

Up until the late nineties the building still had bakelite telephones, they may still be there now.
There is a small baptismal pool near the screen that is beleived to be for an organ originally.Does anyone know if this is credible;I’m not sure if the cinema is too new to have had an organ.

markthemod on August 22, 2006 at 11:56 pm

The balcony and main auditorium is now fully seated.In complete traditional rows.Unfortuanatly I don’t know the seating capicity.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 23, 2006 at 12:21 am

markthemod…As I mentioned in the opening description, the Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Rank organ. It would have been located in the orchestra pit, most likely where the baptismal pool is now located?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 23, 2006 at 12:45 am

A photograph I took of the ABC Southgate in October 2004:

a73uk on July 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

According to mu Mum there was also a cinema in Bourne End near Winchgate junction just before Southgate circus, she suspects it was “The Queens” cinema & she thinks it closed in the mid 60`s.

Jeremy Buck
Jeremy Buck on November 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

A73uk.. This cinema was probably the ODEON, Southgate, located in The Bourne near Southgate Circus. Later the Capitol, now demolished for office block. The Queens was in Palmers Green (where Waitrose store now is)

carolinechenier on December 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

This building is under threat of being knocked down, thanks to London Borough of Enfield. There are plans to redevelop this piece of land and demolishing is an option they cannot rule out. This is a landmark for the area and none of us want this. I am the chairman from the local residents association BHORA. We are trying to make this a listed building to prevent this action being taken.

N13 on May 9, 2016 at 1:52 am

Just to clarify. The Odeon was in Southgate, in The Bourne. The Capitol was in Winchmore Hill, by Fords Grove. Both ABC’s. There was also an ABC, the Ritz, in Bowes Road, also part of Southgate. And let’s not forget the ABC Savoy in Southbury Road in Enfield. I was a “minor of the ABC”. Happy days!!

Sleddy on September 5, 2023 at 5:12 am

If anyone’s interested, here’s a link to a photo of my Uncle, Len Toliday who managed the Ritz and played the very Compton mentioned by Ken above -

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