Film fans are being offered the chance to see behind the scenes at the historic Ritz Cinema in Thirsk this weekend.

The venue is offering daylight, access all areas tours on Saturday (September 16) as part of the national Heritage Open Days event.

Many period details will be visible, and guides will lead tours explaining the building's history, interesting characters and the story of 28 years of succesful volunteer management.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The historic Ritz Cinema in Thirsk is offering tours as part of World Heritage Day

The building itself pre-dates the invention of cinematography, being a Mechanics Institute before conversion to a cinema in 1912 - one of the first in the UK.


Walter Powers was the man with a vision and he opened the cinema as "Thirsk Picture House," but locally it was simply "Powers".

Darlington and Stockton Times: The cinema's founder Walter Power in about 1920

Many devoted people have taken the reins of the cinema during, sometimes, very tough times. After closing briefly, in 1995 the town council took the helm before transferring the task to the dedicated volunteer group who still staff and maintain it today.

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In the daylight various historic details can be seen and will be explained by the guides, along with a chance to see how the technology has evolved over the years.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The old Gaumont-Kalee projector now on display in Thirsk's Ritz Cinema

Tours take place on Saturday only, on the hour between 10am and 5pm with no booking required. Guided tours will last approximately 45 minutes and group size will be limited to 15 people per session. There is full wheelchair access to the ground floor only as there are stairs to the balcony plus the projection booth has very limited capacity.

Darlington and Stockton Times: A historic sign and light switches at Thirsk's Ritz Cinema

A Ritz spokesperson said: "You may have joined us many times for the darkened immersive cinematic experience, but join us on the 16th to experience the cinema as a building and discover life behind the scenes."

Following the heritage opening, upcoming feature films include Gran Turismo, followed by And Then Come the Nightjars.

See for full up to date details.