Scottish Cinemas and Theatres

Ardrossan Cinemas

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Princes Picture House / Lyric
59-61 Princess Street

Opened 1914, rebuilt, extended 1932. Original seating for 650.
Picture courtesy of Graham Kelly
Category B-listed.
Archive image courtesy of Norrie Mcnamee.

After a long spell of dereliction, the auditorium was demolished and replaced by flats; the foyer is now a wine bar.

Articles on the re-building and re-opening courtesy of Laurence Macintyre and Steven Elliot:
The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald - 1st July 1932:
Description of Ardrossan's New Cine-Theatre

The Lyric, Ardrossan's new "talkie" theatre, will become an established fact next Thursday (7 July 1932). The building, which was formerly occupied as the Princes Picture House, is being transformed externally and internally and, when it opens its doors next Thursday it will, to all appearances, be practically a new theatre. With the completion of the extensive alterations and renovations the Lyric will be thoroughly up-to-date in every respect and a valuable acquisition to the town.

The outside alterations will immensely improve the appearance of the building as well as of Princes Street generally. The stone superstructure has been cement-washed stone colour in order to retain its character and the under part has been painted grey-green with borders of black. Its new dress is decidedly pleasing to the eye. At the main entrance an artistic cast-iron, steel and glass canopy is being erected, on the front of which the name of the feature film will be displayed by means of interchangeable letters. Surmounting the canopy will be a neon sign displaying the word Lyric in orange colour with blue border and both in daylight and when illuminated at night this will have a most effective appearance. The entrance is also being considerably improved. The outer gates will be in bronze and the doors of pillar-box red, while the windows at each side of the entrance will be fitted with gold display frames.

The entrance hall will have a comfortable and enticing atmosphere. The floor is laid with korkoid a quarter of an inch thick, in a bright and artistic colour and bearing a specially designed representation of the rising sun, incorporating the name "Lyric" in scroll form. The walls are of a warm tone of orange and brown. Above the pay-box is an up-to-date feature, a category board with the names and categories of the pictures showing and at each side of the entrance hail will be handsome gold easels, on which will be exhibited photographs of scenes from the films. Another feature in the entrance hall is a couple of handsome pendants with rose-tinted shades. The stairing is also laid with korkoid and each step is rubber-nosed.

The interior of the theatre gives a highly pleasing impression with its bright and warm tones. Based on a restful orange shade, the colour scheme of the walls also includes gold, black, .white, blue and purple harmoniously blended and the ceiling of the area is in orange relieved with black and gold. The scheme is continued on the curtain, which is specially made to reflect the colour changing in the lighting. The balcony wails are in green, violet, gold and brown and the ceiling is also in green.

The improvements in the seating constitute an important feature of the new theatre. In the area 120 new seats have replaced old ones and the remainder have been thoroughly cleaned and reappointed. In the front balcony five rows of new fauteuils have been installed. These seats are highly sprung (16 springs in each) and are most luxurious and comfortable. Carpets and floor coverings of a shade to tone with the scheme are being laid in the main passages and between the rows of seats. Altogether the building will seat about 650.

Particular attention has been paid to the lighting. This has been very artistically arranged, the scheme including wall brackets with fan-shaped, orange-tinted shades. The glass of the pendants has been tinted to suit the general design.

The curtain is operated by a special motor controlled from the operating box and the footlights are on dimmers, also controlled by the operator. The proscenium curtain is fire-proofed. Pleasing re-decoration has been carried out on the stage front.

The technical equipment of the theatre is of the most modern character. The sound production system is the British Thomson-Houston installation, with two Kalee projectors of the latest type. A Westone rubber perforated screen will be used, calculated to give the maximum effect. Extension of the operating box is another alteration which makes for improvement. An emergency exit for the operator is made and accommodation is provided for the "non-sync" which amplifies gramophone records. The heating and ventilating systems have been overhauled and a high-power motor generator has been installed for generating power for the arc lamps.

The names of the contractors will be published next week.

The Lyric is owned by the Ardrossan Picture House Company Limited, the directors of which are Mr William A Hunter and Mr James T Woodburn and the secretaries are Messrs J and T K Cook, solicitors, Ardrossan.

The opening ceremony will take place next Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, under the patronage of the Provost, Magistrates and Councillors of the burgh. Provost G McKellar, OBE will perform the ceremony and a special programme of pictures supplied by PDG Limited will follow. An invitation is extended to the public to attend.

The first regular programme will be given in the evening, when the principal picture will be a highly successful comedy "My Wife's Family" with Gene Gerrard and Muriel Angelus in the leading parts. Continuous performances will be given each evening from 6.30 o'clock, except Saturday, when there will be three performances at 2.30, 6.30 and 8.45. The prices are 6d, 9d and 1/- and seats can be booked at 3d extra. A telephone has been installed at the theatre (number 77).

The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald - 8th July 1932
Ardrossan's New "Talkie" Theatre

Ardrossan's new "talkie" theatre, the Lyric, was opened yesterday afternoon (7 July 1932). A special programme of pictures was shown and the invitation to the public to attend was well responded to, the accommodation of the house being fully occupied. The equipment, the artistic lighting and the colourful scheme of decoration were much admired and the whole proceedings passed off in a way that was a happy augury for the success of the venture. Among the invited guests in the balcony were members of the Town Council and officials.

Mr William A Hunter, director, presided at the opening ceremony and extended a welcome to the members of the Town Council and all present. The promoters had done their best, he said, to give the people of Ardrossan an attractive picture house and good pictures. Of course, good pictures cost money and the better the people supported the Lyric the better the pictures they would be able to show. They believed that in opening up the picture house again they were meeting a felt want and they hoped the people of Ardrossan would support them in their efforts. They had installed the very best sound production system, the British Thomson-Houston installation. This was an all-British system and, indeed, they prided themselves on the fact that the Lyric was an all-British; house. He publicly thanked the firms who had done the work, in connection with the picture house and also the individual workers. They worked like n______ to get the place ready in time. In conclusion, he said "The Lyric is being run by 'your ain folk' and it is up to you to support 'your ain picture house'." Provost George McKellar, OBE, in performing the opening ceremony, expressed his pleasure at being present that day, as he was always pleased to do anything for the benefit of the town. He was delighted with the lay out and the appearance of the house and he heartily congratulated the tradesmen on their craftmanship. He also congratulated the artist who designed the scheme of decoration; it was beautiful and would certainly attract many people from both inside and outside the town. He noted from the programme that some specially good pictures had been booked and he hoped the people of the town and district would rally to the support of the Lyric. He did not see why a picture house in a town of over 7000 inhabitants should not be a success. It was up to the people to see that the venture was supported because he was sure the directors would do everything on their part to make it a success and to ensure the comfort and entertainment of patrons. "I have very much pleasure", he said, "in declaring this beautiful picture house open and I wish the management and all concerned every success. I name it The Lyric".

Mr James T Woodburn, director, associated himself with ex-Bailie Hunter in his welcome. A few higher critics of Ardrossan, he said, had been shaking their heads and saying that this, like all other local ventures, was doomed to failure. If they (the directors) believed that, they would not be standing on that platform. They believed there was an opening for a well conducted picture house in a town of 8000 inhabitants. A picture house, however, or a place of entertainment or business of any kind, could not succeed on sentiment alone. The promoters were not entitled to expect support unless they delivered the goods and they were making a very praiseworthy attempt to deliver the goods. Regarding the conduct of the house, they had made up their mind very firmly that no disorder would be tolerated. The attendants had very strict orders as to the treatment to be meted out to anyone who by their misconduct spoiled the pleasure of the remainder of the audience. Mr Woodburn then enumerated the outstanding attractions booked ahead mentioning, among others, Suicide Fleet, George Arliss in The Millionaire and his latest and greatest picture The Silent Voice, Douglas Fairbanks' travel picture Round The World In Eighty Minutes, The Lady of the Lake in the Scott Centenary Week, One Heavenly Night with Evelyn Laye and John Boles, Pola Negri's first "talkie" newly issued, The Woman Commands and the series of twelve pictures How I Play Golf showing the great Bobby Jones play his different strokes. He thanked Provost McKellar for performing the opening ceremony and, on behalf of the management, presented him with a walking-stick as a memento of the occasion and expressed the hope that he would soon be restored to his normal health.

The programme of music and pictures was thereafter carried through successfully, the sound production and the projection passing their test admirably.

The atmosphere of the crowded building latterly became rather close, but this was due to the fact that, owing to the non-arrival of the motor, the electric fans could not be operated. This defect, of course, will be remedied with the putting into operation of the excellent ventilating system.

The contractors, who have to be complimented on their work, included:- painting, decoration and proscenium tabs - Guthrie and Wells, Glasgow; electricians - Charles Price, Ardrossan; joiners J and D Fullarton, Ardrossan; plasterers - McCallum, Saltcoats; projectors, seating, curtain, carpets et cetera. - E A Langish and Company, London; mason work - John Inglis, Ardrossan; korkoid - Korkoid Limited, Glasgow; decorative easels, frames, et cetera - Cinema Signs Limited, Glasgow; cleaning - Vac Clean, Glasgow.

A very happy comedy, My Wife's Family and a strong supporting programme is being shown this weekend. Next week Night Nurse with the well-known stars, Barbara Stanwick, Ben Lyon and Clark Gable in the cast, provides strong dramatic fare from Monday to Wednesday and during the remaining evenings an outstanding attraction will be shown in Waterloo Bridge which has been characterised as "the biggest dramatic sensation" since All Quiet On The Western Front.

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