Supporters of Burnham-On-Sea’s Ritz Cinema gathered to celebrate the building’s 70th birthday this week when an evening of special events was held.
Over 100 people, including current and former staff, projectionists and local VIPs, gathered in the Victoria Street cinema on Thursday night (July 13th) to mark the historic milestone.
After a drinks reception, the visitors were treated to a screening of Noel Coward’s 1945 classic Brief Encounter, which was nominated for three Oscars and was a hugely popular film at the Ritz.
Aftewards, current and former staff lined up at the front of the cinema’s second screen to hear owner Pat Scott (pictured below) look back at the last 70 years and thank everyone for their “incredible support.”
A special birthday cake was brought into the cinema and a single candle blown out by Robert Truman Dickin, whose grandfather Walter built the cinema.
Talking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, Robert said: “I fondly remember coming here as a boy. It’s always been a very special place.”
“My grandfather’s motto was ‘only the best is good enough’ and that’s still very much the case today under Patt’s ownership.”
He added: “My grandfather converted eight cinemas across Somerset but built only one from scratch – Burnham’s – so this building is very unique.”
A collection of memorabilia, including posters and programmes from the 1930s, was on display during the evening.
And a film recounting the history of the Ritz, made by The Engine Room in Bridgwater, was played.
Later, a comedian entertained the audience with a lively mixture of comedy and music – bringing the evening to a close.
A collection was made during the evening for the Cinema And Television Benevolent Fund, a trade charity for the cinema, film and television industries.
Mr Scott spent more than £120,000 renovating the building after the cinema closed in summer 2002.
He re-opened the cinema on Friday, September 17th 2004 with two new large screens, state-of-the-art projectors plus air conditioning and seating for up to 230 people.
Since then, the facility has become a well-used, popular part of Burnham’s social life.