a go tae the pictures Mammy?"
Glasgow the Cinema City or as we would say
"Glesca the place wi' aw the picture halls"
At the turn of the century Glasgow was one of the liveliest cities in
Europe. Walking was the principal form of transport and the bustling streets were filled with groups heading for
the theatre, music halls, pubs, banquets and the pictures!
Glasgow embraced the cinema boom just as it did with many other aspects of
life....it embraced it with a fervour and passion unequalled anywhere else in the United Kingdom.
For Glasgow in its Picture House heyday was CINEMA CITY.
Pre-war newspapers carried page after page of adverts for picture houses,
columns displaying programme details for 130 plus cinemas. More per head of population than
any other city in Europe! Films were shown in converted shops, public halls, skating rinks etc but the
first building to open exclusively for the showing of films was in our famous Sauchiehall Street in
1907, Pringle's Picture Palace. By 1917 there were over one hundred establishments throughout the city.
While some were high class halls, complete
with bars, restaurants and uniformed ushers, others were old warehouses
and of the 'fleapit' variety!
Malinky long legs
Big Banana feet
went tae the pictures
and couldnae find a seat
|CLICK ON PHOTOGRAPHS TO ENLARGE
ARCADIA PICTURE HALL,
London Rd, Bridgeton
|BLACK CAT PICTURE HALL,
The Black Cat opened in 1921 and seated 893 people.
It closed its doors in 1955
|KINGS PICTURE THEATRE, 59
James St, Bridgeton
The Kings at 59 James Street was built in 1910 and seated 1400
The current frontage dates from a 1930's rebuild.
It closed its doors in 1959 and is now a furniture store warehouse.
Originally a drill hall and then a roller skating rink.
Broad St, Bridgeton
|OLYMPIA PICTURE HALL,
The Olympia theatre opened in 1911 seating 2000!
It was taken over by the ABC chain in 1924, closing in 1974.
It became a bingo hall until the late nineties, then a furniture
but is now closed. The facade is a listed B building.
|PREMIER PICTURE PALACE,
The Premier was converted from an engine works in 1910 and seated 700
people. It closed its doors in 1957 was a warehouse but is now
up for let. The Auditorium was flat floored.
|PLAZA PICTURE HALL,
Nuneaton Street, Bridgeton
|SCOTIA PICTURE HALL,
|STRATHCLYDE PICTURE HALL,
the cinema boom faded many
cinemas were converted into bingo halls, warehouses and storage
facilities but many were reduced to lying sadly shuttered and dormant.
The laughter of the audiences, the characters of bygone days but a distant memory......
|Mar. 2003, extract
from GlescaPals Messageboard, Betty Murphy
I used to go with my granny to the pictures every
night in the week and sometimes twice on a Saturday!
I went to the Arcadia , Olympia, Orient, Argyle before it got burned
down, the Granada, 3P's [parkhead picture palace] Blackcat, Bedford, and
there were many more I just can't remember all the names, that's when they
showed two films, and the programme changed half way through the week
|Oct. 2015, Email, GlescaPal William M Neilly aka 'glesca artist', Hamilton, Scotland
As teenagers we went to
the pictures with our pals, usually twice a week as they would change
the programme and we would delight in visiting cinemas in other
locales. For example: The Plaza in Nuneaton Street; The Olympia at
Bridgeton Cross; The Arcadia in Arcadia Street; The Kings in James
Street; The Royal and
in Main Street; The Granada at Parkhead Cross; The
Orient in Gallowgate; The Scotia in Millerston Street; The RioThe Odeon in Rutherglen; The Ritz in Cambuslang. Occasionally,
especially if on a date, we would go to the cinemas in the City Centre.
There was definitely a
pecking order in cinemas based on location, size (capacity), interior
decoration and number of projectors. The standards obviously
reflected the ticket price. The lower order cinemas were
sometimes termed “flea pits”. They had a single projector. They had
wooden bench seats that sometimes were padded with hair and covered
with material that was usually ripped or slashed. The
toilets were primitive and not kept very clean. Further up the
ladder the individual seats were padded, had armrests and had small
ashtrays screwed to the back of the seats. Each row and seat was
numbered. The toilets were better equipped and maintained and the
interior decoration, flooring and carpeting, lighting and screen
curtains all improved and became plusher as you visited the more
expensive cinemas, especially those within the City Centre.
|Nov. 2015, extract from Email, GlescaPal Rena Brown, Glasgow
Hi Webmaister, just a wee bit on picture houses, but I'm sure you will have
most of this info.
The Olympia was one of more better ones, dearer to get
into, I can't remember how much. Last
picture I saw in the Olympia was Bonnie & Clyde with Fay Dunaway and
Warren Beattie. I liked the cowboy and Indian pictures, and we all
cheered when goodies were on screen and boo when baddies were on screen.
Then there was the Kings in James St, when you
went in, at back of stalls there was rows of seats and steps up so we
loved to get those seats, as above everyone.
The wee Royal in Main St., we went there a lot on Saturdays as it was only 3d to get in, also wee Geggie, in
Kirkpatrick st, 3d there too. Both cinema's had wooden benches for
seats, and you were all squashed together.
The Arcadia was where I went a
lot as I stayed beside it, it was called 'the ranch' as it showed a lot of
cowboy pictures, it was in London Rd. and it was 6d to get in. What I enjoyed
about pictures in those days you had wee the picture, then trailers for
what would be next week then the big picture, so you spent hrs there. Sometimes in the Arcadia on Saturday morning they had contest were kids got
up and sang, danced etc.
interval the ice cream girl came in with a wee tray and straps round her back to
sell to you, she stood at bottom near stage, usherettes all had wee hats
on head, men I'm sure had wine colour uniform and hat on head.
The stars I liked very
much were Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason, Doris Day, Clark Gable,
Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and of course Trigger, could go on and on.