Hippodrome – First Purpose-built Cinema in Scotland

The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness near Falkirk is an early example of a purpose-built cinema and thought to be the oldest such building surviving in Scotland.

Hippodrome Cinema

Opened in 1912 the Hippodrome Cinema was the brainchild of cinematography pioneer Louis Dickson who contracted local architect Matthew Steele to design the building.

It has had a chequered history and underwent various transformations by the original architect, including adding a domed roof, which still remains and ticket office.

It remained in use as a cinema until the mid 1970’s when, like many other cinemas, it was turned into a bingo hall until its closure in 1980.

The building was listed Category B by Historic Scotland in 1979, and upgraded to Category A in 2004.

Reinstating the cinema back to its former use and the creation of a community space was proposed by IDEAS, the Falkirk based design firm. Although at the time the preferred option was for the building to used as a Gym, SHBT requested that they retain an option on the IDEAS proposals.

Falkirk Council initiated an HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) Townscape Heritage Initiative for Bo’ness. A sustainable use for the Hippodrome was considered critical, indeed pivotal to the release of grant funding and the IDEAS proposal was revived and considered worthy.

Following grants from various organisations amounting to £1.8 million, the cinema underwent renovation from the middle of 2006 and opened on 9 April 2009, the cinema finally opened its doors again to the public – a reminder of the golden age of cinema.

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