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- Category: B
- Date Added: 27/05/2008
- Local Authority: Glasgow
- Planning Authority: Glasgow
- Burgh: Glasgow
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 62647 65634
- Coordinates: 262647, 665634
James McKissack of John McKissack & Son, opened 1938. Rare survival of iconic streamline Art Deco style super-cinema complex on island site incorporating separate sweet shop, power house and former car park, and retaining much original interior detail. Conceived as amenity element (together with church, library and school) of 1920s housing development centred on Cumbernauld Road. Principal elevation of white faience tiles with darker horizontal banding (now, 2007, painted white) and contrasting black base course and parapet cornices; screen wall and outer rounded bays pebble dashed in 'Dorset pea'; side elevations roughcast with stepped faience tiles at ground (painted) and deep eaves course. Cantilevered canopy over broad centre door, and metal-framed horizontally-astragalled windows. Piended roof of Trafford tiles.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: massive symmetrical entrance of round-angled bays stepping up to 4-stage centre with replacement sign and stepped gable forming screen wall behind. Canopied entrance with 4 2-leaf part-glazed timber doors flanking former revolving door below 4 tall narrow windows. Link wall at outer right adjoining lower sweetshop, and small L-plan power house range to rear.
INTERIOR: all interior spaces retain coherent linking elements to largely intact Art Deco decorative scheme of elegant banding and rounded cloud-like motifs. Terazzo floored foyer and staircase; auditorium with vaulted ceiling and large circular light fitting, bowed balcony front, prominent bowed side exits incorporating triple-columned full-height doorpiece with centre clock over 2-leaf swing doors with bullet-shaped viewing panes; crisp proscenium arch with understated broad concave moulding. Projection room lined with green and white tiles and projector openings to balcony. Seating altered to accommodate bingo tables.
Statement of Special Interest
The former Riddrie Picture House, one of Scotland's best preserved super-cinemas, is arguably James McKissack's 'masterpiece'. It is an outstanding example of an Art Deco cinema and the impact of its unequivocal Art Deco lines on a prominent island site remains undiminished. Its setting is significant (see below) and the survival of its associated power house appears to be particularly rare. Integral shops were a feature of the period and a historic photograph shows that the sweet shop at Riddrie was formerly operated by R S McColl.
Sympathetically converted to a bingo hall in 1968, the 1,780 seat cinema was one of a number of outstanding designs by James McKissack which include the Vogue Cinemas at Cathcart Road, Glasgow and at Rutherglen, the Caley Cinema, Lothian Road, Edinburgh and Mecca Tivoli at Gorgie Road, Edinburgh. House style was not adopted to the same extent in Scotland as it was south of the border, and with such a wealth of cinemas appearing during the earlier years of the 20th century (Glasgow alone boasted more than 100) the challenge was for architects to produce stylish designs reflecting rapid technical innovation and the growing demand for luxury. By the 1930s significant design change was being supported by fundamental social change. McKean recognises the developing concept of pleasure and leisure being made available to far greater numbers. He continues, "The dominance of this aspect of the Thirties has led to the description of the inter-war period as "the long weekend" (p61).
The Riddrie Picture House was built for George Smith and James Welsh. Welsh was Housing Convenor for Glasgow Corporation and Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1943-45. The Smith and Welsh partnership had previously employed James McKissack to design a cinema at Possil, as part of a similar working class housing development. Between 1910 and 1920 very few homes were built to fulfil Lloyd George's requirement of "homes fit for heroes", but Riddrie's Corporation housing, conceived immediately after WWI, was one of the few schemes completed during the 1920s. Amenity structures were seen as integral to such housing schemes but building may have been delayed due to post-war restrictions on non-essential building. Hence the later building dates at Riddrie of the church, library, school and finally the cinema. The building was sold to the Singleton circuit of cinemas and renamed the Vogue in 1950. After conversion to a bingo hall in 1968 the Picture House was briefly re-invented in 1990 when it featured as a super-cinema in the film Silent Scream starring Robert Carlyle.
Assessed as part of the Cinema Thematic Study 2007-08.
Information courtesy of Cinema Theatre Association Scotland (2007). Bruce Peter 100 Years of Glasgow's Amazing Cinemas . Williamson, Riches and Higgs The Buildings of Scotland, Glasgow. Louden The Cinemas of Cinema City (1983). Mitchell Library, Plans (1936). www.codexgeo.co.uk/dsa/building. www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/riddrie.
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