New Olympus Theatre

162-166 Barton Street,
Gloucester, GL1 4EU

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Styles: Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Palmer's Picturedrome, Picturedrome, Ritz Cinema

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New Olympus Theatre

Palmer’s Picturedrome opened on 15th January 1923 with Mae Murray in "Fascination" and it was built for a Mr E.C.J. Palmer of the Gloucester Cinema Company. It had a seating capacity of 700, located in stalls and circle. There are elaborate Rococo style plaster mouldings on the front of the circle, and moulded plaster panels on the ceiling and side-walls.

Later taken over by the Mayfair circuit and named Picturedrome, it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in 1943. It underwent some modernisation (mainly to the facade, a new canopy and the cinema was equipped for screening CinemaScope films) and was re-named Ritz Cinema from 16th May 1955. ABC opened their new Regal Cinema in March 1956 and the Ritz went over to playing mainly 2nd run ABC releases. ABC closed the Ritz Cinema on 8th April 1961 with "The Cossacks" and "The Kettles on Old Macdonalds Farm".

The city centre’s Gaumont Cinema closed two weeks later and the local council, worried about the loss of facilities in the city, persuaded ABC to re-opened the Ritz Cinema wich occured on 11th June 1961 with Elvis Presley in "Flaming Star", which was a Gaumont release. Business was good to begin with, but soon tapered off and the Ritz Cinema closed showing its final film, a 2nd run of "The Young Ones" starring Cliff Richard on 3rd March 1962.

The Ritz was immediately converted into an Alpha Bingo Club and four years later became a Mecca Bingo Club. The Mecca bingo closed in 1984.

The local Gloucester Operatic & Dramatic Society were looking for a new home and purchased the former Ritz Cinema, re-opening on 17th March 1986 with their production of "Fiddler on the Roof". A new stage has been built and together with a lighting box constructed in the rear circle, has mean’t a reduced seating capacity to the current 420 seats. In January 2001, cinema equipment was installed and films were once again part of the programming. It was closed by November 2015. In late-2018 proposals were being made to reopen the theatre, but in the summer of 2019, it stand unused.

The New Olympus Theatre is a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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