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- Category: B
- Date Added: 15/05/1987
- Local Authority: Glasgow
- Planning Authority: Glasgow
- Burgh: Glasgow
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 55212 65882
- Coordinates: 255212, 665882
C J McNair and Elder, 1937-8. Streamlined International Modern suburban super-cinema, converted to bingo hall and cinema 1974, and closed 2006. Strikingly positioned to fully exploit corner site with coloured brick faience and glass façade fronting circular foyer with void behind. Wide curved corner entrance with 5 broad doors and decorative tile banding under full-width cantilevered canopy giving way to 5 tall, back-lit, Cristol glass-block windows divided by sky-blue terracotta-tiled, reinforced concrete mullions (now, 2008, covered with banner) and surmounted by further canopy. Auditorium, aligned E-W some distance from entrance façade.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: short S elevation to Govan Road tiled below canopy, brick above, with large film hoarding panel and vertical "Lyceum" sign (altered to read County Bingo). Long E elevation to McKechnie Street tiled with simple Art Deco doors at ground floor, large hoarding panel in blank brick wall above. High concrete block (set back at E) with 4 pilaster strips houses projection room.
INTERIOR: (partly seen 2008). Many original features including light fittings survive. Glazed entrance doors lead to circular foyer (partitioned 1974) with geometric patterned terrazzo floor. Steps lead from foyer to large streamlined auditorium. Stalls now refitted for bingo. Ornate scrollwork to grilles flanking screen.
Information from previous list description: other half of foyer with circular frieze depicting Walt Disney characters; balcony with original seating, simple decoration. Projection room has projector base, 1938 lighting board (F H Pride, Illuminations and Electrical Engineers) with brass handles and dials built into wall and Hewittic Rectifier in Battery Room.
Statement of Special Interest
Designed by renowned cinema architects, CJ McNair and Elder, the Lyceum opened in December 1938 and was built to seat 2,600. The best preserved example of McNair and Elder's cinema work, the Lyceum is an important and rare example of a streamlined International Modern super-cinema. It forms an important part of the streetscape in Govan and it is a good example of cinema architecture in a city which was closely associated with the type, but where examples with this level of intactness are increasingly rare. The interior contains many surviving features of interest and continues the streamlined design of the exterior.
It was built on the site of the 1898 Lyceum Music Hall which had been converted to a cinema in 1923 and burned down in 1937. A series of architectural plans dating from February to October 1938, show how ideas for a replacement structure evolved from a more simple traditional frontage incorporating shops at Govan Road to the final impressive design which utilises the difficult corner site to advertise its function and welcome patrons into what was a brightly lit circular foyer. To reach the auditorium which runs parallel to Govan Road, a long walk and near 90 degree turn is required, but cleverly disguised. Early plans also allow for the opening up of a 'vomitory' at the centre front stalls leading from a separate entrance in McKechnie Street, presumably to be included if audience numbers were high enough. As such an entrance was subsequently built, numbers apparently rose to adequate levels. After being sold to County Bingo in 1974, subsequent conversion entailed adapting the stalls for bingo with a 480 seat cinema retained in the balcony. The cinema closed in 1981 and the bingo hall closed in 2006.
The architects, Charles John McNair and Robert Elder, had entered into partnership with Glasgow entrepreneur and cinema exhibitor George Urie Scott early in the 1930s. Together they formed the Cinema Construction Company, soon becoming one of the most prolific cinema design companies in Scotland, producing designs for independent cinemas as well as the ABC chain. Stylistic changes within the McNair and Elder partnership lead to the conclusion, based also on anecdotal evidence from Robert Forsyth a junior draughtsman with the practice at the time, that Elder was responsible for most of the designs, especially the interiors.
List description updated as part of the Cinema Thematic Study 2007-08.
Louden The Cinemas of Cinema City (1983), pp51-3. Williamson, Riches & Higgs Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow (1990), p596. Information courtesy of the Cinema Theatre Association Scotland (2007). http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/lyceum/index.html (accessed 2008).
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