– James Edward Hicks contributed with this report. 

It is 1996, the once glorious and popular Ritz cinema closes its doors to the public. Odeon reigns supreme, undisturbed and unthreatened for 17 years.

But, all that is about to change. Refusing to stay dead, The Ritz is crawling its way back up from the ruins to once again take its place amongst Lincoln’s historic cultural venues.

The man behind this project is Pete Genders, chief executive of volunteer organisation Off the Bench.

He says the project is realising his dream of bringing back a precious part of his childhood: “I would see at least two films a week in there and when it closed I was heartbroken,” explained Genders.

“When I was finally in a position to be able to do it I took the bull by the horns and set about regenerating this once sleeping giant.”

The cinema was once a derelict crumbling mess, but has slowly transformed into an elegantly refined venue by a team of hardworking volunteers.

“We are telling stories and creating memories. When you come to Ritz you’re not coming to see a film you are coming to take part in a cinematic experience, showing films other cinemas don’t show.”

Wanting to distinguish itself from other film venues in Lincoln, The Ritz has already hosted a film festival, A Rocky Horror Picture Show musical event and a Mad Hatters Tea Party.

It doesn’t show signs of slowing down either, as it intends to host a variety of diverse events such as live music, stand up, talks and a host of classic cult films in the coming months.

Although unrecognisable after a few weeks of work, the building still needs further changes.

Charity events are being held to raise desperately needed funds, including a rare talk with Peter Moore. He was held captive in Iraq for 946 days, and will make a special appearance at the venue on Thursday, June 20.

So, if you fancy a change from the tirade of blockbuster sequels and bloated ticket prices, check out the Ritz for many fun and interesting films.

You can find out more by visiting their website at the link below.