Sunday, October 10, 2021

Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset

Light the lights

The facade of the Ritz cinema in Burnham-on-Sea looked somewhat the worse for wear when I passed it the other day – but, no matter, the place is still open and still showing films, on three screens now I believe, unlike the single screen that it had when it opened in 1936. It presents to the street a very plain front, rendered in cream, with a central section breaking forward slightly and accommodating three simple rectangular windows and the sign bearing the name above. It’s Art Deco, in other words, of the most pared-down kind.

The lettering in the sign is pretty simple too. Four capitals, with all the strokes more or less equal in width and all the characters very square-looking, including even the initial R, which has been made to do some rather alien things in order to eliminate its usual curves. It’s not the most pleasing of letters, this R, but in the context of the plain, simple, rectilinear building it makes sense. Imagine the neon tubes of the sign lit up at night, as one must with such a cinema building, and the whole thing works – even though we lose what caught my eye on the sunny Sunday afternoon I was there: the lucky similarity between the colour of the lettering and the blue of the sky.

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