Kings Heath High Street was closed for most of the day from Poplar Road and Silver Street after a major fire at Cash Converters on York Road which used to be the Ritz Ballroom on Wednesday (27th March).
It’s played host to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and many more famous bands and singers but today it’s historic reign came to an end.
On 15 February 1963 The Beatles appeared at The Ritz, one of 4 venues run in the 1960′s by legendary Irish couple Ma and Pa Regan shortly after releasing their second single “Please Please Me”. Originally scheduled to appear on 11 January, they were prevented by blizzard like conditions from making the 11 mile journey to Kings Heath from one of the Regans other venues – the Plaza in Old Hill.
Beatlemania was now really taking off and the Beatles were only able to enter and leave the Ritz by climbing over the rear fence in Milford Place avoiding the mob of girls outside.
A spokesperson from West Midlands Fire Service said “At 5.02am today (27th March) we received a 999 call reporting smoke coming from the Cash Converters. When we arrived, crews found a severe fire in the two-storey building and our resources were quickly scaled up to eight fire engines and around 40 firefighters, plus a hydraulic platform.
The fire was under control by 7am. However, a large part of the front of the building collapsed, and much of the roof. No-one’s been hurt.
Structural engineers will now examine the remains of the building so investigations can begin. Around 70% of the building has collapsed and the fire is being treated as suspicious.”
Kate Smart, Town Centre Manager said: “We are devastated for the Cash Converter business and really sad to see such a land-mark property in Kings Heath being destroyed, but we are obviously extremely grateful to the Fire Service and Police for their prompt action. The community spirit in Kings Heath is un-wavering and plans for a clean-up team of volunteers are now underway, to help get those businesses and shops on York Road, affected by Wednesdays disastrous blaze, up and running again as soon as possible. Anyone that would like to show their support should get in touch via ‘Enjoy Kings Heath’ on Facebook or twitter – @enjoykingsheath”
The Hare and Hounds, which is adjacent to the smouldering Cash Converters building was also effected and a number of gigs where cancelled. The Kitchen Garden Cafe will remain closed until Saturday due to smoke damage and other problems arising from the fire.
The High Street was closed for most of the day and diversions where put in place down Institute Road and Springfield Road, local bus services where also effected.
Witnesses are asked to contact police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. More to follow.
Feature Image Credit: West Midlands Fire Service