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Previous Names: Electric Cinema, Swanage Cinema
In the Dorset resort of Swanage, the purpose-built Electric Cinema opened in June 1916. It was a successor to the film shows being presented at Gilbert Hall (see separate Cinema Treasures entry), with the projectors - and, indeed, the projectionist, Gerry Stockley - being transferred to the new picture house. There were 500 seats.
By 1928 the Electric Cinema had been renamed the Swanage Cinema. In 1936, it was sold, by Messrs. Pond and Walton, to Portsmouth Town Cinemas. The sale also included the Grand Theatre next door - see separate Cinema Treasures entry - and both cinemas were subsequently sold to Tony Whitehouse in 1953.
He carried out a complete redecoration on both cinemas, and renamed the Swanage Cinema the Ritz Cinema. He also installed CinemaScope, with a 32ft wide screen.
The Ritz Cinema closed on 3rd October 1959 with “Sapphire”, starring Nigel Patrick, and John Gregson in “Jacqueline”. Interestingly, the stated seating capacity had by now increased, to 645.
The contents were sold by auction at the Ritz Cinema on 7th October 1959. The building was incorporated into the Gateway supermarket that had been built on the site of the Grand Theatre. Later on, that was operated by Budgens.
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