History that had to be demolished

Colwell House in 1983 before it was demolished to make way for the Colwell Centre

The Ritz blaze 60 years ago

First published in News

REGULAR Looking Back contributor Geoffrey Pritch-ard has passed on these fascinating photos of Wey-mouth from years gone by.

The first is an action-packed shot of a major fire at the Ritz Theatre, 60 years ago this month.

Geoffrey said: “Obviously, such an event attracted great crowds, especially during school holidays.

“A Weymouth fire appliance was attending a grass fire at the Nothe when one of the crew noticed smoke issuing from the theatre on the other side of the harbour.

“Soon fire appliances were on site, and the picture shows the fire being tackled by those from Weymouth, Dorchester and Portland.”

The main damage was caused to the auditorium and dressing rooms, which were gutted, but there was very little damage to the foyer and ballroom, Geoffrey said.

The whole structure was demolished and many in the fire service felt their efforts had been wasted, he added.

The second photo is of Colwell House in School Street, which was dem-olished in 1983 and the Colwell Centre was built on its site.

The picture was taken in 1983 just before its dem-olition.

The building, erected in 1872, was the Weymouth Royal Hospital until 1921.

It then became a Salvation Army Hostel for ex-service-men, then the homeless, and was renamed Colwell House in 1959. It closed in 1981.

For more of Geoffrey’s pictures, see Looking Back next Tuesday.

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