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Centennial celebrations at Campbeltown’s famous picture house

23 May 2013

A project is underway in Argyll to renovate remote a historic cinema as The Picture House turns 100 years old.

On the 26th May 2013, the oldest purpose built, continuously operating, fully functioning picture house in Scotland celebrates its 100th birthday next weekend, with the grandson of one of the founders leading the celebrations.

The Picture House in the remote town of Campbeltown is holding its centennial celebrations and relatives of the founders and original staff are getting involved.

The company received a letter from Her Majesty the Queen who was interested to learn about the history of the building as well as the plans for its restoration.

Clair Simers, HIE Development Manager, said: “HIE has been working with Campbeltown Community Business to secure the long term future of The Picture House and was delighted to assist the company recently towards the cost of going digital. We are thrilled that so many partners have come on board to share the vision and it is great that this project shows dedication and commitment and we congratulate them on reaching the centenary year.”

Peter Armour, former manager and grandson of Archibald Armour, one of the founders of The Picture House will be in attendance.  Willie Crossan, nephew of George & Isa Durnan, who together acted as projectionists for over 75 years, will be acting as MC for the celebrations.

Another important guest attending the event will be local resident Mary McMillan who was born and raised in Campbeltown.  Mary was born in September 1913, just a few months after The Picture House first opened and will be participating in the celebrations as she too approaches her 100th birthday.

One of only two category A listed picture houses in Scotland, The Picture House opened to the public on 26th May 1913 at a time when Campbeltown was particularly renowned for its vibrant community and thriving fishing and whisky industries.

The local people, after travelling to Glasgow to visit the cinema, decided that their town needed a picture house and Albert V Gardner was approached to design the building in 1912 and subsequently renovated it in 1934.

The Picture House was taken over by Campbeltown Community Business, a charitable organisation, in the mid-1980s and has since survived entirely on local support. Several projects have taken place to restore The Picture House, with the help of grants from Historic Scotland and The Heritage Lottery Fund.   Now The Centenary Project aims to continue to raise much needed funds to revive the interior of the wonderful art deco building.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Cultural and External Affairs said: “The Centenary Project will breathe new life into this historic building. The unique interior will not only be restored to its former glory but also thoroughly modernised to provide an exceptional night out.  

“The magic of a night at the cinema is all too often lost but The Picture House is a great example of how investment in local cinema is not only helping to regenerate town centres like Campbeltown but is also contributing to a vibrant cultural scene.”

Jane Mayo, Chairman of The Picture House said: “We are very proud to be celebrating The Picture House’s centenary.   The Picture House is one of the earliest surviving cinemas still showing films in the UK and it attracts as many visitors for its striking architecture as for the films it shows.”

“It is hoped that the funds raised during the project will see comfortable seating and an expanded kiosk introduced to enhance the ability to watch the latest digital technology, including live downloads of opera, drama and ballet.”

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received and hope that people will get behind us.”

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