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- Category: C
- Date Added: 20/01/2004
- Local Authority: North Lanarkshire
- Planning Authority: North Lanarkshire
- Burgh: Motherwell And Wishaw
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 79757 55129
- Coordinates: 279757, 655129
John Fairweather, 1940. Large, 3-storey, 10-bay, rectangular-plan, plain Art Deco former cinema. Painted brick to SE (principal) and NE elevations; plain brick to NW and SW. Stepped eaves course. Advanced flat-roofed vestibule entrance (re-clad in modern material in late 20th century). Many original interior architectural details, fixtures and fittings, including a grand Corinthian-columned auditorium.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: wide, single storey, advanced vestibule entrance to left with ?MECCA? signage to centre; large 2-storey keystoned arch above, framing 3 closely set windows at 1st and 2nd floors; circular Art Deco motif above. Narrow bay to far left. 7 plain bays to right of entrance with recessed blank rectangular panels; recessed plain bay to far right.
NE (SIDE) ELEVATION: 9 bays, arranged 1-7-1. 7 plain bays to centre divided by brick pilaster strips. Outer bays recessed.
NW (REAR) ELEVATION: similar arrangement to principal elevation; irregular fenestration to far right (most of which are blocked).
SW (SIDE) ELEVATION: irregular fenestration; metal fire escapes.
Metal and timber windows. Pitched roof; brick stacks to SW.
INTERIOR: Imperial staircase to left of plan leading to auditorium (right of plan) and offices; Terrazo steps and landings to upper levels with Art Deco palm designs at landings; original light fixtures and signage. Auditorium: outstanding and enormous Classical/Art Deco theatre, unaltered except removal of stalls seating and new stair access to balcony from ground floor. Proscenium flanked by giant Ionic columns. Ventilator and sound grilles to either side with Art Deco fretwork between Corinthian pilasters and semi-circular drums to lower parts. Auditorium lined by Corinthian colonnade and pilastrade. Ionic pilastered aediculae to boxes. Flat ceiling with shallow recessed dome; cove ceiling beneath circle. Original scroll-decorated cast metal seating to balcony.
Statement of Special Interest
Listed primarily for its striking interior decoration, in particular the massive Conrinthian-columned auditorium. The fourth and last of the Green's 'super-cinemas', The Playhouse, Wishaw opened on Thursday 19 December 1940 with a seating capacity for 2,982 patrons. Green's Playhouses were among some of the largest and most impressive cinemas built in Europe during the height of the medium. Brothers Bert and Fred Green developed their cinema empire from their family's vast experience as travelling showmen and variety theatre owners. John Fairweather, house architect for Green's, designed Playhouses for Glasgow (1925-1929; demolished 1985), Dundee (1936; only the B-listed tower remains after a fire in 1995) and Ayr (1930; see separate listing). All four 'super-cinemas' displayed the elaborate Corinthian columned interior. Another notable building by Fairweather was the Edinburgh Playhouse (see separate listing), a theatre rather than a cinema, built for McGuire & Lumley. A cinema is no longer operated in Wishaw, but the building continues to be used as a bingo hall.
ORDNANCE SURVEY map (1938-1948). C A Harkins, WE WANT U IN: THE STORY OF A GLASGOW INSTITUTION (1995) pp147-149. B Peter, LANARKSHIRE?S LEGENDARY CINEMAS (1999) p48.
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