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“Auld” Old Monkland
(Bob Cameron  c1986)

Old Monkland Memories
from Canada - John Marrs

Memories Langloan c1987
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Bert Gilroy
MEMORIES
 
The Penny Project

 

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 Airdrie Cinema History 

See Coatbridge Cinemas

Rialto/Hippodrome - 2 Hallcraig Street

Photo from John White Collection -

The poster advertises Showing tonight - Dr Walford Bodie

Dr Walford Bodie M.D was one of the most famous and controversial performers of the British music hall. Born in Aberdeen in 1869, he became a master showman. He excelled in magic, ventriloquism, hypnotism and remarkable experiments with electricity.  Styling himself as 'the British Edison' and assisted by 'la Belle Electra', he passed 30,000 volts through his body for the climax of his act, illuminating sixteen incandescent bulbs and two arc lamps held in his bare hands.
In 1890, William Kemmler became the first victim of the electric chair. Sensing public outrage at this method of execution, Bodie immediately built a replica and used it to shock and terrify his audience with mock electrocutions

When Houdini played the Hippodrome on Hallcraig Street in Airdrie,  in 1913, thousands of people were unable to get tickets, so he put on an extra show for free out front. A crowd of 7,000 watched him being chained and handcuffed by the local police sergeant on the front steps of the theatre. Officials tried keeping him in a variety of sacks and crates too, but he kept getting loose.

Finally the Water Torture Chamber was wheeled into sight and the fire brigade filled it up. Harry had little problem escaping from that as well, naturally, but no one in the throng was complaining.  

See him in action!!


The building was originally built as a Corn Exchange in 1856 but was converted and opened in 1908 by Airdrie Hippodrome Company as a Theatre with a capacity of 1000 people.

Considerable internal changes were made in 1911. In those days, as in modem theatres, the most expensive seats were at the front costing sixpence, the rows behind fourpence (4d) with the back rows twopence (2d). The earliest pictures shown were Bioscope or Panoramic which consisted of long rolls of paper, on which pictures were painted, being unrolled across the stage to the accompaniment of music or spoken commentary. These gave way to cinematic pictures although variety carried on for many years.

In 1917 the Hippodrome hosted a week of opera provided by the John Ridding Opera Company who performed seven operas in the week! - Maritana - 11 Trovatore - The Bohemian Girl - The Daughter of the Regiment - The Lily of Killarney - Rigoletto and finally Faust.

In 1918 a company, Airdrie Market Buildings and Picture House Limited, was formed to acquire the buildings. Three years later its 1400 shares were bought by James Loudon and his wife and in 1929 they leased the property to the Rialto Picture House.

The New Hippodrome was advertising on the 14 January 1929, 'the picture of the year, Ramona with Dolores del Rio, also showing Crazie Mazie
with Lillian Harvey,'

Renamed Rialto for cine-variety in 1929.  Owned by Crescent Cinema Company (Frutin's) for many years.

The Rialto closed as a picture house in the middle of 1959. Was Bingo hall from 1962-2007.

June 2011- The building has been empty for a few years and is now subject to a Planning Application - Partial Demolition of Building Containing Former Bingo Hall (Listed Building) and Redevelopment of the Remaining Section of Building and Site for Residential and Mixed Use Development (Including the Change of Use to Form 4 Retail, Office and Food/ Drink Units on the Ground Floor with 5 Residential Flats on the First Floor plus the Construction of a New Residential Block (Containing 18 Flats) with Associated Parking and Landscaping.

See letter


La Scala / Coliseum
Hallcraig Street


Opened in 1906 by J.J. Bennell in the former Public Hall.
Sold to the Pennycook circuit and renamed in 1928. Robert Dalziel and his brother James were manager and projectionist.
Destroyed by fire in 1953 and demolished.
The space is now occupied by an undertaker

The Public Hall was built in 1867 by the Airdrie Public Hall Company Limited, despite its name it was never a municipal hall and seems to have been run as a social service rather than a commercial venture. Sir Frank Benson made his first appearance as actor/manager on the 8th May 1883 as a member of the Walter Bentley Company which was in
financial difficulty. Benson o
ffered to take over the company which he did - his true name was Begg and a grandson of Dr James Begg of New Monkland. It was the venue for many years for concerts, bands, numerous meetings and entertainments run by the Good Templars. At the turn of the century Bioscope pictures were being shown and by 1911 it was committed to cinematographic pictures.

J.J.
Bennell's name will always be associated with the famous 'BB Pictures' (Bright and Beautiful). He originated from Manchester, becoming a travelling salesman for Sidney Carter's Pictures during the early 1900s, before deciding to enter into business on his own, choosing Scotland as his base. On the 23rd December 1907 Bennell opened Wellington Palace, Commercial Road, Glasgow as his first exhibition of Animated Pictures, and BB Pictures was launched.

A hallmark of the BB's were his special sound effects from behind the screen, such as the use of car horns and coconut. He also read out dialogue from the side of the screen for the benefit of the audience. BB Pictures was soon to be hailed as a Glasgow favourite especially amongst children. Bennell extended his number of premises to include the Gaiety Theatre at Anderston Cross, Glasgow, the Palace and the Empire in Dundee, all in 1909 and later to Edinburgh, Airdrie, Perth and Greenock. His programmes, which he chose himself, were associated with quality, and film such as The Rent Collector and If Women Were Policemen were shown with additional explanatory notes by Bennell. He was also known for providing a good deal of variety to the shows he offered.

He was considered to have been one of the great initiators of the Saturday Matinee which attracted audiences of 2-3000 to his afternoon shows at Wellington Palace. The children's performances began with singing the BB Pictures song:

"BB Pictures, they're alright
Come and see them every night
We will sing with all our might
BB Pictures they're alright".

Courtesy of Scottish screen archives


Pavilion / Classic
Graham St


 

Opened in 1911 in old skating rink. Demolished after fire, 1917.
Rebuilt, 1919. Sold by Singleton's to Odeon, 1936.
Sold to Classic and renamed in  1967. Closed in 1970. Demolished in 1973 - Airdrie Sheriff Courthouse was built on the site.

Image courtesy of the Cinema Theatre Association Archive (Tony Moss Collection)


New Cinema
Broomknoll Street


 

Built C1920. Arch. James Davidson. Renovated, 1938. Rear extension for Cinemascope, 1955.
 Demolished. for new road, 1980.
Airdrie's biggest cinema - seats for 1328.

Image courtesy of the Cinema Theatre Association Archive (Tony Moss Collection)


New  Cinema  Airdrie  August1953-1


New  Cinema  Airdrie  August1953-2

Cinema program and Post Card of Market Buildings
supplied by Sam McCabe
Article and information supplied by Tom Frew

 

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