50 new jobs as Ritz cinema in Wallsend becomes pub

Wetherspoons is to create 50 jobs after it was given the green light to convert Wallsend’s Ritz cinema into a pub.

North Tyneside councillors have granted planning permission to revamp the art deco building, which most recently was a bingo hall.

The firm is set to spend £1.8m on the project, with work beginning as soon as the end of this month, and an aim of opening the new pub by Christmas.

“We are delighted that planning has been granted,” JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson told The Chronicle.

“We believe that this will be a good addition to Wallsend’s social scene and also act as a catalyst for further investment in the town.”

The Ritz, which opened in 1939, was designed by North East firm Percy Lindsay Browne, with the auditorium and foyers designed by Glasgow School of Art graduate Charles Harding.

It closed as a cinema in 1962 and was last used, until 2011, as a Mecca bingo hall, since when it has stood empty.

Wetherspoons says the conversion will result in the creation of 50 full and part time jobs, while the art deco frontage of the property – which is on North Tyneside Council’s local list of buildings of interest – will be restored.

In a report to councillors, planners said the proposals for The Ritz “would have a positive impact on the vitality and viability of Wallsend town centre.”

The Ritz is just the latest investment in the North East by Wetherspoons, which last year announced it would spend £7.8m creating six pubs in the region, including the Hat and Feathers at Seaham, the Grand Electric at Spennymoor, the High Main in Byker, Newcastle and fellow former art deco cinema turned tavern The Wallaw in Blyth.

The firm also said, in March 2013, that it had identified sites in Alnwick, Whickham, Billingham, Newton Aycliffe, Guisborough, Tynemouth, North Shields, and the Ritz in Wallsend for future development.

How Wetherspoons refurbished The Wallaw in Blyth – Could it prove clues for the revamp of The Ritz?