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Latitude: 51.4789 / 51°28'44"N
Longitude: 0.3216 / 0°19'17"E
OS Eastings: 561312
OS Northings: 178104
OS Grid: TQ613781
Mapcode National: GBR YS.FRY
Mapcode Global: VHHNW.J3C3
Entry Name: Mecca Bingo Club
Listing Date: 5 October 2000
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1384993
English Heritage Legacy ID: 485452
Location: Thurrock, RM17
Electoral Ward/Division: Grays Riverside
Parish: Non Civil Parish
Built-Up Area: Grays
Traditional County: Essex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex
Church of England Parish: Grays St Peter and St Paul
Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford
TQ 67 NW QUARRY HILL
05-OCT-00 (West side)
Mecca Bingo Club
Also Known As: Ritz Cinema, QUARRY HILL, Grays
Former cinema, constructed in 1939-40 (although planned some three years previously) as the Ritz, for the Lou Morris circuit. Architect: E. Hamilton Parke. Builders: Offer & Son. Brown facing brick with concrete and white plaster dressings. There is a flat-pitched roof over the auditorium but this cannot be seen from Quarry Hill. Foyer block, roof not seen. Large auditorium with balcony and low fly tower, behind double-height foyer block
EXTERIOR: Streamlined Moderne style comprising a large auditorium with a lower foyer block to its left. The foyer block has a bulbous `D' end to the left and a wide entrance (late twentieth-century sets of glazed double doors), with a canopy over the latter. Above is a broad window with metal glazing bars dividing it into square panes. At the top is a plaster fluted frieze which continues around the bulbous end. Wide over-sailing concrete cornice. Rising above the junction with the auditorium is a low square tower, also in brick, with a similar but narrower over-sailing concrete cornice. On the tower face overlooking the auditorium is the letter marking of the original name of the cinema, RITZ. The long auditorium street wall is relieved by brick pilasters surmounted by rounded concrete shelf-like features. The unadorned side and rear elevations were not intended to be seen. They have various exit doors and windows serving hallways, administrative offices and lavatories. There is a low fly-tower and a full-height extension at the rear houses the ventilation plant; above this rises a slender chimney.
INTERIOR: Foyer with, on the left, curving stairs ascending to the balcony level. Solid balustrades to the stairs with a chromium handrail. The ornamented cornice in the upper foyer is based on the cyma recta moulding, repeated three times. Large double-height auditorium. The proscenium has fluted vertical members and a curving top moulding (enlivened with random incised decoration) which extends either side to the ante-proscenium, then reversing and descending to dado level from whence it parallels the lower part of the vertical members. The reserve within these sinuous mouldings is filled with Art Deco openwork gilded fibrous plaster in the form of wheatsheafs, foliage and flowers, masking ventilation outlets. There is a gilded scalloped cornice and the ceiling runs back and has a serious of curving mouldings in the form of shells and scallops. The cornice of the balcony soffit has more of the tripled cyma recta, an undulating lighting cove and bands of horizontal plaster fluting. Balcony with two vomitory entrances. In the ceiling abutting the rear wall of the balcony are ventilation panels covered by more of the Art Deco plaster foliage.
ANALYSIS: Externally, this is an impressive example of a streamlined Moderne super cinema of the late 1930s, with good massing, showing the influence of the `Odeon' style. Internally, the decoration attests to a move into a Baroque form (albeit simplified) of Moderne which, unlike in the USA, never properly developed in Britain. There is fine quality fibrous plaster decoration with a surrealist flavour, possibly produced by the firm of Eugene Mollo. The plan of the cinema, on its awkward triangular site, is unusually lucid. With its opening in November 1940, the Ritz is one of the last cinemas to have opened from the classic era of cinema construction, of the 1920s -1930s.
A report of a visit to cinemas in Brays in the bulletin of Cinema Theatre Association, volume 8, no 2, March-April 1974, page 14.
Richard Gray: Cinemas in Britain, Lund Humphries, London 1996, page 138.
Listing NGR: TQ6131278104
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