The large stone built former cinema complex on the corner of Steep
Turnpike and Causeway Lane had only just been built when this
photograph was taken. The row of shops next door to the cinema
were still being fitted out. There's an estate agent's board
next to the pavement and a man is at the top of a ladder doing
something to the front of the shops building. The cinema was
built by the contractors Messrs John William Wildgoose, Ltd.
of Matlock and the architects were the Derby firm of Naylor and
Sale. It cost close on £20,000 to build and was luxuriously
The Cinema House, where George Woodman was manager in 1925,
was opened on 18 December 1922.
Cinema going had become increasingly popular and Matlock Cinema
House was Matlock's second cinema - the Picture Palace on Dale
Road had opened about 1916.
Disaster struck in the early hours of 31st May 1931 when fire
destroyed the interior and the roof was ruined, allegedly through
someone throwing down a cigarette on the balcony during the previous
evening's performance. The manager, Harry Hodgkinson, had locked
up at 11.30 p.m. on the Saturday evening and a policeman had passed
the building around 2a.m. on Sunday morning; neither noticed anything
was wrong. The fire was discovered quite by chance at 3 a.m. by
Jack Robinson, an employee, who had returned to the cinema
for a pair of shoes that he had accidentally left behind and which
he needed for a motor cycle trip to London. He called Matlock
The members of the Fire Brigade who attended the fire later received
a gift of a guinea from the directors of Matlock Cinemas, Ltd., "for
such efficient service".
The cinema was used for a variety of functions, including Ernest
Bailey School's Speech Days. In 1933, after a three year gap because
of the economic situation, this event returned to the Cinema House.
Matlock and District Amateur Operatic Society productions also
took place here, though not in the year after the fire.
It wasn't until around the New Year of 1955 that Northern Cinemas,
by then the cinema's owners, decided to change the name to The
Ritz Cinema. The Council were in uproar about the new name. Anything
would apparently have been acceptable but definitely NOT The Ritz!
Whilst Northern Cinemas couldn't have been overduly bothered by
the association, what upset the Council was that the same name
had been used by "a fried fish shop" which had been somewhere
adjacent to the cinema and which the Council had closed down not
The films advertised on the bill boards have helped to date the
picture. Although it is difficult to read all the words, the double
bill included two films that were came out in 1922. "Skin
Deep" was a film directed by Lambert Hillyer that starred,
amongst others, Milton Sills and Florence Vidor. The second film
was "The Glory of Clementina" which starred Pauline Frederick.
The same bill board announces that the Café was open daily
during the week from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and on Sundays between
3 and 7 p.m.