ABC Leeds

Vicar Lane,
Leeds, LS2 7NL

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Cannon Cinemas, MGM Theatres

Architects: William Riddell Glen

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Ritz Cinema, Cannon, MGM

Nearby Theaters

ABC Leeds

Opened as the Ritz Cinema on 19th November 1934 with Will Hay in “Those Were the Days” and Warren Williams in “Upper World”. It was designed by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in-house architect William R. Glen and seating was provided for 1,100 in the stalls and 850 in the circle.

The decorative scheme was mainly Art Deco style but there were touches of a semi-Atmospheric design via painted panels on the side-walls that showed vistas of cypress trees and temples. The Ritz Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Ranks organ, the console had an illuminated surround and was on a lift. It was opened by Lewis Gerard.

In 1959 the façade was ‘modernised’ by a covering of sheets of metal cladding and a light-box sign was installed to display the film titles. It was also equipped with a Todd-AO projection system and a huge screen was installed forward of the original proscenium. The Ritz Cinema was re-named ABC from 25th May 1959.

In July 1969 it was closed for twinning, re-opening in April 1970 as ABC 1 & 2 with 620 seats in the former stalls and 867 in the former circle. In March 1974 ABC 2 in the former stalls was sub-divided into two screens with 474 and 236 seats.

In 1986 the ABC was taken over by Cannon Cinemas and re-named, they in turn were taken over by MGM and it became the MGM from May 1993.

In 1998 it had become the ABC again but it was reported to be up for sale. The ABC closed on 17th February 2000 with ABC screen 1 in the former circle showing “American Beauty”, screen 2 “Double Jeopardy” and Bollywood film “Shaheed Uddham Singh” in screen 3.

It remained closed and shuttered until February 2006, when it was demolished. Leeds Arena was built on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 21, 2010 at 4:17 am

A set of four vintage photographs of the ABC:
View link

Simon on April 8, 2010 at 2:55 am

Whereabouts on Vicar Lane was the ABC? Whats replaced it?

Tony Newman
Tony Newman on May 6, 2010 at 4:48 am

The ABC was at the end of Vicar lane next to the A64 ring road.The last time i was down there they hadn’t built anything it was just empty waste ground!!! what a shame and a waste.I loved that place far too many good memories to mention.

smoothie on May 6, 2010 at 5:20 am

Multi-photographed portfolio of ABC Vicar Lane photographs on the Leeds Library and Information project ‘Leodis’. Most photographs in relation to the nearby expressway construction in the late 1960’s; but more recent, dormant, photos from the mid-2000’s. Easy way in is using the Advanced Search facility right from the word go, linked immediately under the main heading. Then just search for ‘ABC’ in the Keyword space. Don’t touch any of the other drop-downs!

Mike_Blakemore on September 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Have load 3 pictures of ABC..

frankie35 on November 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

i used to love this cinema growing up in the 80’s at least the ticket prices were decent no hyper inflated costs like it is today the best film i have seen there was masters of the universe in 87 it was great especialy at the end where dolph lundgren said i have the power every one stood up cheering and applauding in ovation it was electric but the cinema paid the price for govermental capital by knocking it down for an shopping complex that the site is now owned by john lewis part of leeds transformation project but what fun it was at the cinema.

frankie (cool rider) smales

frankie smales tv and movie review uk

terry on January 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm

ABC 1 with 670 seats was situated in the former circle area and ABC 2 with 867 occupied the stalls. The later subdivision of the latter ruined the whole of the downstairs seating area.

vickifairfax on December 1, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I think this was the cinema built by my Grandfather, Herbert Stevens. Having opened one of the first ‘talkie’ cinemas in Grimsby/Hull he was brought over by management to oversee The Ritz’s construction and subsequently ran it until his retirement in the mid 50’s. He was always immensely proud of the fact that the cinema was built on schedule and under budget and he loved the place. Of course he always went to work in white tie and tails as most cinema managers did, I think, in those days. I wonder if anyone has anymore information they could give me? Vicki Fairfax Melbourne Australia

terry on May 29, 2017 at 6:43 am

Omitted from the main overview is the fact that in 1959 ‘Todd AO’ was installed. The huge concave screen and tabs were positioned forward of the original proscenium.

Unusually, the Compton organ at this time was retained even though the orchestra pit and console were now concealed by a carpeted ‘semi reverse’ rake forward of the front stalls crossover. On the occasions when the organ was played a sliding hatch had to be used before the organ lift was operated…….

ABC transferred the festoon curtain (from the old pros) to the ABC Ritz Barnsley and it was used for all performances there whilst the draw house tabs were then only used at the beginning and the end of the day.

davidstirzaker on August 12, 2017 at 7:31 am

What happened to Jimmy Gold the general manager at the opening of the twin cinema?

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