ABOVE: 4 Years ago on 27 March 2014 fire destroyed the former Ideal Picture House, Billiards Hall, Ritz Ballroom and Bingo Hall at 2 York Road
Kings Heath music lovers are demanding a change of tune from City Council chiefs because they are refusing to decide the future of the site of a former dance hall where sixties legends including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones made their Birmingham debut and members of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Move, The Spencer Davis Group and Slade cut their musical teeth.
Four years ago on 27 March 2013, the building that had been home to the Ritz Ballroom throughout the sixties and early seventies was destroyed by fire.
Campaigners are demanding the land at 2 York Road is listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ as an important step in realising the dream of creating a suitable tribute to the venue’s rich musical heritage. The land was originally the site of a cinema and billiards hall before being converted by legendary Irish couple Ma and Pa Regan into a ballroom and then a bingo hall.
The campaign has gathered wide support from local residents and businesses.
Co-organisers Bob Prew and Ken Whittaker said: “We have sent the Council leader legal advice that the Localism Act requires them to list the site. We are very angry and concerned that the council believes they are above the law and can simply ignore the eight-week mandatory time limit for making such decisions. It also seems to us that they have no effective complaints policy. There are now growing demands for something to be done about what has become a derelict eyesore in an otherwise increasingly fashionable area and for us to be helped to realise our dream of making the Ritz rise from the ashes as a community resource celebrating its amazing heritage.”
The plans are to build on the site a performance space and a museum that tells the story of the site.
Further fundraising for this ambitious project is taking place on 4th June at the Hare and Hounds next door to the derelict site when John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird’s favourite tribute band The Mersey Beatles perform a special show to jointly commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the release of the Sgt Pepper album and the 54th Anniversary of The Beatles third and final appearance at the Ritz.
Tickets cost £15 cash from the Kitchen Garden Cafe or £15 + booking fee from www.skiddle.com/e/12922152
Bob Prew added “Liverpool earns millions of pounds from musical tourism. Birmingham could do the same if the Council started to promote our musical heritage in the same way. Listing 2 York Road as an Asset of Community Value would make a great start”.
BELOW: One of the 4 murals that tells the history of 2 York Road designed by graffitti artist Hoakser