The Ritz Cinema
Built by demolishing two houses in Cambridge Road by the Union Cinemas chain, who were taken over by Associated British Cinemas (‘ABC’) just prior to its opening on 19th March 1938, with Greta Garbo in “Marie Waleswska”. Known as the ‘Ritz Cinema’, it had seating for 1,212 in the stalls and 694 in the circle. The cinema was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 Manual/ 8 Ranks organ that was opened by Wilfred Southworth. There was also a restaurant located in the circle foyer.
It was re-named ‘ABC’ on 5th April 1962. The Wurlitzer organ was removed in 1964, parts of the organ being sold off; the Celeste and Gamba being added to the organ at The Buttermarket, Shrewsbury, other parts going to St Thomas' School, Battersea. , and the cinema received a ‘modernisation. There were some live shows in the 1960’s when pop stars such as Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Billy Fury and Mark Wynter appeared on the stage.
For many years it was the Saturday home of the ‘ABC Minors’, showing cartoons and all films suitable for the young and very young.
The ‘ABC’ was closed on 6th October 1971 with Steve McQueen in “Le Mans”. The building having been sold to Sainsbury’s to build a new supermarket on the site. As a result, the ‘ABC’ was demolished in December 1971 and archaeologists discovered the foundations of a medieval Augustine Priory on the site when the supermarket was constructed circa 1974. A trap door in the flooring over the remains of the Priory was included in the construction in order the foundations could still be accessed.
After Sainsbury’s vacated the property for new premises at Sedlescombe Road North, the building was taken over by the Co-operative supermarket.
In 2009 the building on the site was occupied by ESK Wholesale Ltd.