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Architects: Howard Williams
Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical
Originally built as the Assembly Hall in 1825, it became the first venue in the town to show films. Designed by architect Andrew Patey, externally the building is a fine example of the Classical style with a colonade at street level and a series of ten pilasters across the facade in beween windows. There is a central pediment over the main entrance. The ballroom above the Assembly Hall was converted into a cinema in 1914 and was named the Riviera Cinema.
In 1933-1934 the interior of the building was structurally altered and converted into a cinema which opened as the Riviera Cinema on 16th July 1934 with Jack Hulbert in "Jack Ahoy". It now had a total of 901 seats, 586 in the stalls and 315 in the circle. The Art Deco style auditorium was designed by architect Howard Williams. The proscenium was 45 feet wide, behind which was a stage. There was also a cafe incorporated in the building which could seat 80 diners and a roof garden on top of the building. In the mid-1940’s the Riviera Cinema came under the control of the independent Mayfair Cinemas (Control) Ltd.
In 1970, the cinema was closed for alterations to form a two-tier building. An amusement arcade occupied the ground floor, whilst a 520 seat cinema was created in the former circle area, which had been extended forward.
The Riviera Cinema closed on 26th March 2000 with Allan Corduner in "Topsy-Turvy" and Ralph Fiennes “The End of the Affair”. The reason for closure being a huge rental hike from the landlords. The building lay empty for a while, then planning applications were proposed to build luxury flats on the top of the building (where the roof garden used to be) and to re-furbish and re-open the cinema. Despite much opposition to the conversion, these were defeated and the flats were built, but to date, the cinema has not re-opened. It was converted into a church in 2017.
The Riviera Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.
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Recent comments (view all 8 comments)
An exterior photograph from 2005 of the closed Riviera Cinema, just prior to the re-development:
A sunny day in 2005:
By August 2007 the new luxury flats had been built on top:
summer 1988 a grainy bw shot, sadly the metal deco chevron windows were ripped out when the flats were built
Pardon my ignorance, but in the opening description the seating arrangement is stated as ‘stalls’ and ‘circle’ – is this what we on the west side of the pond would call orchestra (the main floor) and loge/mezzanine/balcony (upstairs)?
dave-bronx; you assume correctly. You will find most cinema buildings here in the UK refer to the main floor as the Stalls and upstairs as the Circle or occasionally Balcony
However in ‘live’ theatres you get the terms Orchestra Stalls for the main floor, Royal Circle or Dress Circle for upstairs. If a live theatre has additional upstairs seating areas, then the next one up would be the Balcony and a third circle up would be the Gallery. Mezzanine’s are rarely found in UK cinemas and theatres.
An inside and an outside from 1991.
Two more shots of the Riviera:–
A few of my photos
Mars Hill Church now occupy the former cinema and have reopened parts of the building with more to come such as the cafe bar. The Red Rock Harmony choir use it for rehearsals and a concert was held in September 2017 by musical group Belle Voci. The flats on top are self-catering holiday flats called Riviera Apartments.