Transcript for History Cinema Tour

Alighting in Jamaica Street, he showed me one of the finest cinemas in Glasgow: the Grand Central picture house, which was the mecca, in th- in those days, as not only being a picture house, it had a magnificent restaurant, and an orchestra. And it was a highlight on Saturday night for fathers and mothers, and sweethearts, to come into town and boast that they had been at this famous Grand Central. We turned and walked along Argyle Street. And on the right hand side, just past Saint Enoch Square, was the Saint Enoch picture house. And to anyone who’s interested, they can still find it by looking for an old building with twin turrets, and just across the road, there was another picture house called The Vaudeville, managed by a gentleman called McDougal. And understand that McDougal was known as ‘Oor Uncle Wullie’. And he practically knew every patron. From then we walked along, and we came to another cinema just past Dunlop Street, famously known as the Fifty Fives. The number being 55 Argyle Street, but generally known as the Argyle Picture House, owned by the famous Jacob brothers, who also owned the Glasgow and West End of London Clothing Company. Further along we came to one of the great places in Glasgow: A.E. Pickard’s famous Panopticon. And then across the road, past the… the Tron steeple, tucked in at the back of there is a little street, Watson Street, which still retains, sorry– – it’s now disappeared: there was the old Queen’s Theatre, eventually turned into the Queen’s Cinema.

Retracing our steps, we went up j- em, Union Street. On the right hand side, there was the City Picture House. And then across the road on the left hand side, still a lovely building today: the famous Cranston’s Picture House, which in those days was better known as Cranston’s Tea Room. And up on the right hand side we came to the Regent Picture House. And then turning into Sauchiehall Street, on the left hand side, there was the La Scala, still going strong today. And further along, on the right hand side, on the site of the old Hengler’s Circus, the Regal Picture House. And still going westward on the left hand side we had the Deluxe Cinema. Then crossing back to the north side, the King’s Cinema. And coming back down again, Sauchiehall Street, we turn up into Renfield Street where we see there the Green’s Playhouse, built by direct labour, and is virtually one of the strongest buildings in the city of Glasgow. The stalls, seating over a thousand people, are way below the ground level; the first row of their famous gold divans was actually on the pavement level of Renfrew Street; and above that they had an upper gallery seating over 1,200. All in, the total seating capacity of the Playhouse was 4,400.

Now just north of the Playhouse Glasgow, we have today the famous Theatre Royal. At the back of the stage of the Theatre Royal, there was a little picture house seating about five hundred people, known as the Bijou Cowcaddens. And it was operating there until just about nineteen twenty. And strange to say it disappeared owing to the very first development of the City of Glasgow, when the corporation took down one building which housed over three hundred families, resulting in the patrons of the Bijou being dispersed away to the wilds. And going northwest, up the Cowcaddens, eh, there was the New Grand Cinema, which originally was built as the New Grand Theatre. And slightly further on there was the Cambridge Picture House.

Noo we can take a little diversion here and move up into the Possilpark area. And in that particular area we had the Picture House, The Roxy, and the Astoria. And then moving to the east into Springburn, we had the U Kinema, the Oxford Picture House, the Prince’s Picture House, the Wellfield Picture House, and the Cooperative Hall. And retracing our steps back down to Townhead, we had the Saint James’ Picture House which, before the building was demolished, was rather a peculiar site as the entrance to this cinema was up a close! In those days the fire regulations were rather lax, and it was funny to see people going up a close and through the back into a picture house which virt- which was virtually built in the ba-in the back green.

 Click to download the transcript

<< Back to stories main page