Ritz Cinema

13 Frances Street,
Newtownards, BT23 3DW

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Additional Info

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

Architects: Robert Sharpe Hill

Functions: Gymnasium, Retail

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Picture Palace

Nearby Theaters

Ritz Cinema

The first cinema at this address was the Picture Palace which opened on 8th January 1921 in what was a conversion of a former church. Prior to that, the Palace (under the same ownership) had operated from a wooden building further along Frances Street, destroyed in a fire in 1918 (see separate entry for the Palace Cinema on Cinema Treasures).

It was taken over by the Union Cinemas chain in September 1936, and was reconstructed to the plans of architect R. Sharpe Hill, and re-opened as the Ritz Cinema on 1st March 1937. Union Cinemas chain was taken over by Associated British Cinema(ABC) chain in October 1937.

ABC closed the Ritz Cinema on 16th July 1966. It was almost immediately taken over by independent Solar Cinemas and retaining the Ritz Cinema name they closed in on 4th November 1967. The building was converted into a shopping arcade and health club.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Torchlight on February 5, 2019 at 11:27 am

The last business day under ABC ownership was Saturday 16th July 1966. The first films shown by the new owners, Solar Cinemas Ltd of Belfast, were screened on the following Monday, the 18th. Solar, who also owned the town’s other cinema, the Regent, retained the Ritz name.

However, the new set-up was relatively shortlived. Solar subsequently did a deal to sell the premises and as a consequence the decades of film shows at the Ritz came to an end on Saturday 4th November 1967.

Torchlight on July 15, 2019 at 1:57 pm

The original cinema on this site was The Palace Unity De-Luxe which opened on 8 January 1921. It was a replacement for The Palace, also in Frances Street which had opened on 18 October 1913 as Our Picture House. Within a few weeks it had become Your Picture House. Then around 15 January 1916 it changed its name, again, to The Palace (possibly because the town’s other cinema was called The Picture House). The Palace (a wooden building) was destroyed by fire on 2 November 1918.

Robert Morrison, the owner of The Palace was determined to find a new, more suitable, building and purchased the former Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church premises at 15 Frances Street (the congregation had relocated). Members of this denomination were often referred to as Unitarians and this may have been the reason why Morrison initially included Unity in the name of his new cinema. He died in 1925 and the business was subsequently run by his son Campbell, who had been managing the cinema.

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