Scottish Cinemas and Theatres

Bathgate Cinemas

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(New) Pavilion
19-21 George Place

Earliest intact survivor of the George Green chain of cinemas. An early example of a work by John Fairweather, it is a good, largely unaltered example of cinemas of the period just after the first world war, and before the developments towards modern streamlined design.

The Bathgate Pavilion opened 25th March 1920, replacing an earlier cinema run by George Green in the town. This older cinema, the 1913 Picturehouse, had been converted from a roller skating rink, when Green’s first decided to set up a permanent cinema in the town (this family of show-folk had taken early to cinema exhibition). The replacement building, in George Place, was typical of cinemas of the period.

The exterior was plain; unlike later cinema buildings, there was no attempt to create a separate show fašade to hide the auditorium block behind; here the frontage is the auditorium block itself. This building was clearly built to a tight budget.
The composition is mostly symmetrical, with a set of entrance doors placed centrally beneath an arch, echoing the proscenium arch inside the building. Three small windows above this arch gave light to the projection room, while above the gable is pierced by a round hole for ventilation.

The series of doors, with a row of stained glass above them, lead to a small entrance foyer. This features a central paybox, stairs up to the balcony on either side, and doors through to the stalls. This small foyer space, taking up a very small proportion of the volume of the building, is typical for cinemas of the time. It was only later that grand entrance foyers and cafes began to be typical features of a cinema (in order to increase takings from catering as exhibitors started to take larger percentages of the profits from actually showing films); at this point however maximising takings by maximising seating capacities on a small site was key.

The long, rectangular auditorium, which originally sat 1067, is in good condition. While the cinema seating has been removed and the stalls rake floored over to allow for bingo, the building has been well looked after.
The ceiling is segmented, with plain panels outlined by detailed decorative plasterwork foliage. A series of ventilation ducts are placed down the central ceiling panels.
Archive image courtesy of Ian Hossack

The proscenium is tall, with straight sides, and a curved archway above. It is flanked by two archways, with carved decorative panels within. The side walls are largely plain, broken up by a series of pilasters with decorative tops. One wall features a series of square decorative panels between these; the other has windows covered by shutters in the same positions. Windows were often a feature of earlier cinema auditoria, opened between performances to allow fresh air and daylight into the auditorium.

The small balcony has a flat front, and is flanked on either side by a theatrical-style false box and blank archway (partially pierced on one side to give a view from an office into the auditorium).

Closed as a cinema in 1967; Now a bingo hall. It was listed Category C(s) by Historic Scotland in 2008

A large gallery of photographs of the interior are available here.

North Bridge Street

A gallery of interior photos from September 2008 can be seen here.

The Regal cinema in Bathgate opened in 1938, seating 1067, and is in exterior form very much as originally built. The fenestration is also still there. The building is a fine symmetrical Art Deco composition with classical overtones. The front consists of three bays the outer two protrude forward so as to create a recessed entrance area underneath the balcony between them. The fenestration in the central bay as well as the side wings adds a vertical emphasis to this otherwise very solid and square building.

The interior has undergone some changes, to allow the building to be adapted for community use. Despite this there are a wealth of original features that remain; the entrance foyer space has excellent terrazzo flooring, finely detailed ‘coming soon’ panels as well as original plasterwork at cornice level and around the edge of the ceiling. The upper foyer has retained its beautiful stained glass windows as well. In the auditorium there is the original plasterwork surround to the proscenium still in place although it is covered on the sides by what appears to be plasterboard at the moment. The ceiling still retains its coffering and plasterwork Art Deco detailing.

But most importantly and of great interest are the large fibrous plasterwork panels with integrated grillwork on the splay walls above the side exits created by John Alexander. They depict a nude chariot rider driving his horse into the sky. The controversy of this theme delayed the cinemas opening by several days while it was determined if such images were acceptable in a public place. The only other cinema in the UK to retain plasterwork by Alexander is the Grade II listed Northwick Cinema in Worcester, making the Regal building of far more than just local interest.

It is the finest remaining cinema by prolific Leven-based firm of AD Haxton.

The proscenium was 30 feet wide, and the stage 28 ft deep. Cinemascope was fitted in 1955.
The building was C(s)-Listed by Historic Scotland in 1999, and this was upgraded to Category B in 2008.

Many original decorative features are still intact inside - for some examples, see the gallery of interior photos available here, courtesy of Bill Matthews.
A photo by Graham Kelly of the exterior undergoing renovation work in 2003 is here.

External Links:
The Regal features panels designed by John Alexander - these can be seen being produced on the RCAHMS website here.
CANMORE features almost the entire plans of the building here.

Corn Exchange / New Public Hall

Image c.1907 courtesy of Ian Hossack

Built as the Corn Exchange in 1857/58.
Refurbished  in 1906/07 by Robert Russell, who added a stage, dressing rooms and a balcony.
Every type of function took place in the building and in the early 1900s it was used for
cinematographic displays of The Boer War and the showing of lantern slides.

Cinema Picturehouse / Picture Playhouse
Livery Street

o.1913. Converted from roller-rink, with a distinctive turret roof. Later the Locarno Dance Hall (c.1964),
and was demolished in the late 1960s.
Image courtesy of the Cinema Theatre Association Archive (Tony Moss Collection)

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