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Updated December 18, 2016 6:56 PM

Photo courtesy of Ron Knott

SM071

Outside Ritz Cinema

RITZ / NEW ATLAS / ATLAS PICTURE THEATRE Fletcher Street Opened 2nd February 1914. Prop., F. E. Spring. Mgr. Jas. Scott. Cap. 1,000. 1930: revamp., reseating and WE sound – New Atlas. Renamed Ritz 1937. By 1941 - 750 seats. Continuous. Prices 3d. to 6d. Phone Bolton 1300. Closed 1960.

On the end of the row was the Ritz cinema. Every Saturday morning we would thrill to films like Flash Gordon and Hopalong Cassidy. The Ritz was typically known as the flea pit, I don't know why because it seemed marvelous to me.
Colin Anforth Class of 1960
I used to go to the "Atlas" later called the "Ritz" there was no way you could get behind the screen to see the pictures.
However my mother born 1902, used to tell me about a picture house on Bradshawgate called "The World on Wings" it was where the arcade used to be, now the entrance to Crompton's Place. She said they used to go behind the screen there for half price.
They would sit on wooden forms with their backs to the screen holding a mirror up in front of them, this way they could read the subtitles, the films in those days being silent.
Brian Grundy Class of 1943
I remember many of the boys and girls from St Marks, going each week to the penny (silent) pictures at the Slaterfield Band of Hope Mission, in Platt St.
The local shops had many milk bottles return that night for the penny refund.
Doors opened at 7pm, it was bit of a free for all getting in, nobody queued in those days, Inside we sat on forms facing a platform that had steps on it. The platform was draped from ceiling to floor, in thick dark red velvet curtains. There was also a thick round highly polished brass handrail at waist height.
Just before the film started, Mr Fielding, the man in charge went onto the platform, and gripping the brass handrail tightly would shout "Quiet" this always got a good response, they knew the film would soon be starting, again he would shout "All Stand We Will Now Take The Pledge" raise your right hands and in a loud voice repeat after me.
I agree, to abstain, from all intoxicating liquors, as a beverage. We will now sing the Mission Hymn, Yield ye not into temptation, for to yield is to sin. Then the film would start, if the equipment broke down three or four times, that was a good night.
Sometimes when changing a reel in the middle of a film, they would finish up with an entirely different film on the screen. At times they would get the film backwards so the subtitles were the wrong way round.
At Christmas we always got a bag of nuts each and when the light went out those nuts flew like wasps and they stung.
I always enjoyed going, but the war stared and that was the end of the penny pictures.
I can still see them all now, with their right hands raised repeating, "I agree, to abstain." I wonder how many did?.
Brian Grundy Class of 1943

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