Capitol Horsham

North Street,
Horsham, RH12 1RG

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Related Websites

Capitol Horsham (Official)

Additional Info

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

Architects: L.H. Parsons

Firms: Goodman & Kay, Verity and Beverley

Functions: Art Gallery, Live Theatre, Movies (First Run)

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Ritz Cinema, ABC, Horsham Arts Centre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 440140.375.0220

Nearby Theaters

Ritz Horsham

Located in Horsham, Sussex. The Ritz Cinema opened by the Union Cinemas chain on June 13, 1936 with a seating capacity of 1,086 in stalls and circle levels. It was situated next to the Odeon Cinema (now demolished) and was designed by L. H. Parsons of Goodman & Kay with the better-known architectural firm Verity and Beverley acting as consultants. The opening film was Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times” and on the stage were Archie and his Famous Juvenile Band. It was equipped with a Compton 2 manual/4 ranks organ with Melotone unit which was opened by organist Harold Ramsey. It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in October 1937.

It was renamed ABC from 20th February 1967 and was closed on 26th June 1982. It was acquired by the local council in preparation for upgrading and acting as a replacement for the Capitol Theatre, which being more centrally located, was required for demolition to allow for Marks and Spencer’s store to extend.

The Horsham Arts Centre duly opened December 21, 1984 with the foyer and most of the rear stalls redeveloped into a larger foyer, toilets and art gallery. The rest of the rear stalls was converted into the 126 seat Ritz cinema.

The 1st floor cafe, circle foyer and rear circle was transformed into a new cafe, bar and further art gallery space.

The front of the circle was extended forward, with arms going down to the front stalls area. A new stage with fly tower was constructed on land to the rear of the cinema and, retaining the Art Deco plasterwork and feel of the original cinema, a most attractive new theatre was created with seating for 450.

The Horsham Arts Centre closed in January 2002 and underwent a 6-million GB pounds refurbishment. The foyer has been extended forward of the original front of the building be the erection of an all glass extension. It re-opened in September 2003. The building has been re-named Capitol (after the previous demolished Capital Theatre in the town which has its own page on Cinema Treasures) and has a live theatre, seating 423; 311 in the stalls and 112 in the circle. The two cinema screens seat 175 in Screen 1 and 89 in Screen 2.

This is a classic example of how to treat an old theatre to create a vibrant modern facility with the style and feel of the old.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

frankgilbert on September 7, 2006 at 9:31 am

When I was a child in the early sixties, the cinema was called the Ritz, although it was already an ABC cinema. I used to attend the ABC Minors' Matinees on Saturdays with my brother – stalls 6d, circle 1s. The Odeon was a few minutes nearer to the Carfax on the other side of the road.

Wurlitzer420 on December 6, 2015 at 11:33 am

This Ritz had a 2 manual 4 ranks Compton Organ also a Meltone unit. Same as the organ at the Ritz Pencance

ritzman on September 15, 2016 at 7:51 am

New photo added : Auditorium from the circle showing the proscenium and the Compton organ in front of the original screen tabs

curlew on December 22, 2020 at 11:24 am

Union built some gorgeous cinemas all over the U.K., , although the fame was short lived with a takeover in 1937 by ABC, whose cinemas were far less extravagant. ‘Ritz’ was a Union Cinemas trademark.Fortunately Horsham has survived , unlike many of the Ritz cinemas in The North , for example Huddersfield and Warrington and many others

terry on December 22, 2020 at 3:35 pm

Union did indeed build some very impressive cinemas and I would agree that many were more elaborate than some of the purpose built W R Glen ABC’s. However, many of the latter were the equal of the Union houses, for instance Plymouth, Bournemouth, Brighton and Southampton on the South Coast whilst in Yorkshire the Regals in Halifax and Harrogate were of equal architectural merit to the Ritz, Huddersfield.

Whilst ‘Ritz’ was the favourite name of Union, they were going to replace it with the corporate name, ‘Union’ and this they did in Kingston on Thames which was a Union acquisition. ABC reinstated the original ‘Regal’ name when they took over. ABC also often used the ‘Ritz’ name, for example in Leeds, Bradford, Sunderland, Gateshead and Wallsend.

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