1936 with earlier interior fixtures and 1960s alterations to front elevation. Utilitarian gabled shed with 1960s brick façade housing almost complete 1936 cinema interior with most fixtures and fittings taken from RMS Homeric (formerly SS Columbus -see Notes).
EXTERIOR: 3 2-leaf glazed timber doors with octagonal glazing and octagonal glazed fanlights recessed to centre of brick façade; 3 steps to doors. Regular fenestration of mainly narrow upright windows to brick façade; concrete skews. Rendered to sides and rear with lean-to passage along SE elevation. Corrugated iron or asbestos roof with 3 cast-iron vents to ridge.
All doors and windows boarded up (2005).
INTERIOR: FOYER with mahogany paneling and compartmented ceiling with circular multi-bulb brass and glass light fittings. STAIRCASES to each side of foyer with reeded Art Deco Grecian-style balusters and newel posts; remains of marble tiles to stair treads. FUSE ROOM under S staircase with large mirror in ornately carved timber frame. 2 2-leaf polished octagonal-glazed doors from foyer to auditorium. Large AUDITORIUM with curved balcony (see Below); stage at E end with square architrave, original curtain and decorative balustrade in front; 3 fluted Corinthian columns over fire exits flanking stage; polished mahogany paneling to dado level; delicate decorative painted compartmental paneling above with gold-leaf highlights; curved compartmented ceiling in similar style with decorative cornicing; large electric chandelier to centre of ceiling; paired wall lights to side walls. BALCONY accessed from stair through octagonal-glazed mahogany doors with original seating for approximately 154 people on stepped tiers covered in Art Deco carpet from RMS Homeric. PROJECTION ROOM behind with 2 projectors and associated machinery.
Statement of Special Interest
This externally unprepossessing shed houses one of the finest and most complete 1930s cinema interiors in Scotland. The cinema was built in 1936 by JE Sheeran, and originally had a white Art-Deco façade that was replaced by the present brick in the 1960s. The RMS Homeric (see below) was broken up at Inverkeithing in 1936 and Mr Sheeran purchased a number of the fixtures and fittings to furnish the interior of the cinema. These included, amongst other things, the paneling and chandelier from the 1st Class Dining Saloon (now in the auditorium), many light fittings and large amounts of carpet. As the paneling was curved to fit the ship, special batons had to be made to fix it to the walls of the cinema. The cinema closed in the 1950s and since then has been used as a store. Although time has taken its toll on the fabric of the building and some of the fixtures, this is one of the finest and least-altered 1930s cinema interiors in Scotland, and the use of interior-work from the RMS Homeric gives it added historic interest. If the building still retained its original façade it would merit listing at category A. The quality of the interior demonstrates the importance picture houses had in the lives of small communities, such as Stonehouse, before the 2nd World War.
The cinema was opened in January 1937 and sat 750 people. Some of the seating from the main auditorium is stored under the stage.
The RMS Homeric started life as a German ship, the SS Columbus, built in 1913 by F Schichau for Norddeutscher Lloyd, and at the time was the largest twin screw reciprocating engined ship in the world. She was laid up during the war, and afterwards was passed to White Star Line as part of the war reparations. Work on her was completed in Germany after the war and she came to England in 1922, when she was renamed. White Star Line used her first for transatlantic crossings and then for Mediterranean cruises: she was one of the first ships to be used solely for cruises and was very popular because she was steady in rough seas. On 27th February 1936 she was sold for £74000 and broken up by Thos W Ward at Inverkeithing, when Mr Sheeran purchased some of the interior work for this cinema.
See also the listed former Regal Cinema and Volunteer Hall, 51 Queen Street, Broughty Ferry (HB Number: 25866) which also used fixtures and fittings from RMS Homeric in its interior decoration.
References and Notes updated as part of the Cinemas Thematic Study 2007-08.