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4 March

Today in Gosport’s Past:-the Ritz Super Cinema was opened on 4 March 1935 to much praise, since it had a restaurant on the premises, where a chap could enjoy a 3-course meal for the princely sum of 1/6d (7.5p in feet & inches), the first film shown being “What Every Woman Knows” starring Helen Hayes (released in October 1934), and the cinema could accomodate over 1000 customers.

During an air-raid on the night of 10 January 1941, The Ritz was badly damaged by bombing, and had to close down. Since Gosport also had the Forum and Criterion cinemas, there was no great urgency to rectify things, but eventually it was completely rebuilt, and opened its doors again in October 1958, but without the restaurant, sadly.

It became a very popular entertainment for many years, and was used for holding concerts on the odd occasion: Peter Skellern played there in the 80s, B B King & Horace Batchelor played there in August 1994, and Spike Edney’s SAS Band (with Roger Taylor from Queen) played there for ‘Spike’s Xmas Cracker’ concert on 16 December 1994.

However, all was not well, and the Ritz closed on 30 October 1982, and remained closed until reopening in 1985. In later days, the condition of the cinema deteriorated; seats got torn & tatty, and stuffing was sometimes replaced by cardboard, and the Circle (upstairs) was closed. The situation was never resolved, and the Ritz closed its doors for the last time on 11 April 1999, the very last film to be shown was “L.A. Confidential”, and the cinema (in later years its boast was that it was The Largest Big Screen on the South Coast) was demolished in August 2001.

A sad loss to Gosport indeed, especially so since, despite promises otherwise, it’s never been replaced… At least we got a new Job Centre and an Iceland… Hmffff. Not much to show for a town which has seen SIX cinemas over the years (not including the short-lived St Vincent cinema). Yippee….

Here are some photos of it over the years, from beginning to end. Credits to original photographers.

ALSO Today in Gosport’s Past:-  in the early hours of 4 March 2004, The Swordfish pub, off Crofton Avenue, Lee-on-Solent, caught fire.

Formerly The Marine Court Hotel, The Swordfish had recently been closed, and the land sold for redevelopment, so the end was nigh anyhow. The Swordfish had been a popular pub, with its Chunka Cheese food thingy. Houses have since been built on the site, in a gated community called Swordfish Close.
credits to original photographers.