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The Ritz Cinema, Wallsend

A well-researched Historical Building Recording (HBR) can add value to the redevelopment of a listed building that is to undergo a change of use.

In the case of the  Ritz Cinema in Wallsend it meant that some important original Art Deco features were preserved and incorporated into its conversion to a large Wetherspoon public house, maintaining the building’s importance in the local area and creating a destination to attract a whole new audience.

A full programme of recording

In line with NPPF guidelines, Tyne & Wear’s Planning Archaeologist requested that a programme of recording was undertaken to advise the conservation, alteration, repair and management of the building, and to compile a permanent archive record of the use of the building. Harrison Ince Architects appointed AB Heritage to undertake the work.

AB Heritage provided a full Level II Historic Building Recording and included a report of all the relevant historical documentation recording of the use of the building as a cinema and later bingo hall, and to record and preserve it as one of only 13 cinema houses designed by renowned designer Percy Lindsay Browne.

Although externally the building was largely unchanged, internally there were inaccessible areas due to dilapidation and stockpiling of materials for demolition.  It was important to capture the detail of the original Art Deco features to protect them as the building was redeveloped. A full photographic record captured the surviving features of the original decor.

Appreciated by the community

The redevelopment of the Ritz Cinema at Wallsend has restored the Art Deco frontage to its former glory. Many of the internal features have been incorporated into the grandiose themed interior, which is being appreciated by a new audience – customers of Wetherspoon.

Images. above: previous external  road frontage and right  after development.

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