Edinburgh Theatres, Cinemas and Circuses: 1820 - 1963

George Baird in 1962Researched, compiled and written by George Baird.
Digital version typset and compiled by George F. Baird.

Editors Note:
This invaluable work - the first stop for anyone researching the places of entertainment in Scotland's capital city - is being made available here in PDF format, entirely free of charge, thanks to the time and effort and generosity of George F. Baird, to whom we are very grateful.

The text is available in two different electronic versions: the 'Complete Text', covering the whole city, or in a series of smaller publications, which break down the areas covered into geographical regions, which may be of more interest to local researchers.

Both are in PDF format, allowing for free text searches, etc., adding to their usefulness, as both an invaluable record of the development of such buildings, and way to rediscover them.

Copyright note: Anyone who wishes to reproduce the text should first seek permission to do so from the site editors, who have been empowered by George F. Baird to act on his behalf on copyright matters.  Commercial reproduction is prohibited without consent. Please contact the site editors at with any queries.

Edinburgh Theatres, Cinemas & Circuses: 1820 - 1963
Complete text in PDF format

Places of Entertainment in Edinburgh
[Derived from the complete text to the left]

About the Text

George F Baird writes:
"In 1959 my father, George Baird, conceived the idea of writing the History. His primary aim was to report the emergence of ‘houses of entertainment’, by quoting the first advertisement relating to the opening of the theatre or cinema; the price of admission; and what was being presented for the entertainment of Edinburry folk.

He started work on the History in October 1959 and from the outset received practical support from the City Librarian, Mr.C.M. Minto, and the staff of the Edinburgh Room.

In 1964 he completed his research into the opening of 70 theatres, 120 cinemas, 40 circuses and 22 skating rinks, ice and roller. It was a tragedy that as he was nearing the completion of the History he fell ill in the Spring of 1964; as a consequence he was unable to compose a foreword to the History. Two copies of the History were produced by typewriter: the top copy is held by the Edinburgh Room, I have the carbon copy.

With a view to making the History available to a wider readership, I decided to re-set the History in electronic format.  Keying the 180,000 words made me realise the enormous task undertaken by my father in transcribing most of the text from source material. I completed the A4 version of the History in July 2000."

About the Authors

George Baird was born in Edinburgh on 16th July 1893; died in Edinburgh 22 April 1967.
On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany; George was mobilised on that date as he was at a Territorial Army camp with the 5th Royal Scots. He was severely wounded at Gallipoli in May 1915. Discharged from the Army in 1916, he returned to his job as a painter and decorator, rather the worse for wear. In 1947 he retired, and was awarded a 100% War Disabled Pension in 1948.

In the 1950s and 1960s he wrote a history of his trade union, The Operative House Painters of Scotland, which came to fruition in 1962 after a long period of research. In the same year, he brought out books about Greenside, his birthplace: Ancient & Modern Greenside, Greenside Parish Church, and his Reminiscences about the area.

George F Baird was born in Edinburgh on 8th October 1928.
He was born in the Dalry area of the town, but spent his formative years in Tollcross. After a National Service in the Army, his first Civil Service appointment was in London in November 1949, but he was transferred to the General Register Office for Scotland in 1951. He retired in October 1988, the last 24 years of his career was spent in the Census Office.

He completed a Family History: We Pass This Way But Once in 1997, and this was followed by Reminiscences of a Tollcross Laddie in 1999. He also brought out his father's A Dictionary of House Painting Terms in 1998 - this had been drafted between 1944 and 1945, and the School of Painting at Edinburgh's Telford College made copies of this available to Colleges of Education within Scotland.

His late wife, Betty, suggested to him in 1999 that he should attempt to reissue his father's book Edinburgh Theatres etc., with a view of making it available to a wider audience. First, he established from the Edinburgh Room that the book was frequently referred to. He then re-set it electronically, 180,000 words over the period November 1999 - July 2000.

In 2002 and 2003 he fulfilled an ambition by writing 1901 Census Studies about four areas in Edinburgh in the style of the Small Area Statistics used at the 1981 Census.

[Copies of the books referred to are deposited in the Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh]