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The day flames brought the curtain down on iconic Mr Smiths

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Article by Gordon Gandy

In a regular feature, Radio Warrington’s Gordon Gandy highlights the town’s history. This month he looks at Mr Smiths Nightclub.

 

THREE years ago on April 14, the former Mr Smiths nightclub was destroyed by a devastating fire and later demolished.

The nightclub had also seen life as Synergy in 2008 and Halo in 2009/10.

But long before the Mr Smiths days, the venue started out as the Ritz Cinema, built by the Union Cinemas chain and officially opened on 23 August 1937 with seating for almost 2,000 people.

The first films shown featured Robert Armstrong in “Without Orders” and Chester Morris in ” I Promise to Pay”.

The Ritz also had a cafe for the convenience of its patrons.

The cinema was taken over, together with all Union Cinemas, by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in October 1937 and renamed the ABC in 1958.

Celebrity visitors included world-famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in 1952.

The ABC was closed on 19 August 1972 for alterations. The former stalls area downstairs were converted into a bingo club and a 474-seat cinema was created in the former balcony, which opened on 7 December 1972.

In 1980 a second, smaller screen, with video projection and seating for 90 patrons, was opened in the former cafe area.

The cinemas closed on 23 October 1982, followed soon after by the bingo club.

The venue was later converted into Mr Smith’s nightclub, which opened in May 1986. Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachen presented the Granada TV music and dance show, The Hitman and Her, from the venue in the 1980s.

Michaela said, “It was the first place where we carried out the show and it became synonymous with The Hit Man and Her”.

In later years as the building stood empty, a group called Theatre 4 Warrington campaigned for it to be converted into a theatre, and it was suggested by some that it should be listed, but nothing came of it.

The buildings demise came with the blaze.

Firefighters tackle the blaze

 

To contact Gordon email warringtongordian@gmail.com and read more at www.mywarrington.me.uk

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