Savoy Cinema

Union Street,
Kilmarnock, KA3 1AW

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Scotia Kinema, Imperial Picture House

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In Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, on 1st March 1920, the Scotia Kinema was opened by Provost James Smith. The opening film was D. W. Griffith’s war drama “The Great Love”, starring George Fawcett and Lillian Gish, and the supporting programme included the French adventure serial “Tih-Minh”, directed by Louis Feuillade. The proceeds were donated to the local Infirmary.

This was a conversion of a Meal Market, which had been built as long ago as 1703, but re-built circa 1840.

The proprietor, James Gray, was complimented on the “comfort and beauty of the kinema house he had created” (according to a report in ‘Kine Weekly’). There were 600 seats, in the stalls and a “spacious gallery”. Unusually, the orchestra was situated in a recess in the wall to the left of the screen and “therefore hidden from the view of the major portion of the audience” (reported as if this was a virtue!). Mr J. Paton was musical director.

A Denish projector was used. There were two performances nightly, with matinees on Tuesday and Saturday.

The directors of Scotia Picture House Ltd. were J. Hamilton, J. F. Ballantine, W. Rankin and J. Hamilton Jr. They sold out fairly quickly as, by 1923, according to the Kinematograph Year Book, the cinema was by then operated by Messrs. McLean and Pollin - and it had been renamed the Imperial Picture House.

When the talkies arrived, a British Thomson-Houston(BTH) sound system was installed.

During the early-1940’s Mr Pollin (alone) became the proprietor. By this time, the seating capacity had been reduced to 500. However, in 1945, H. Maitles took over; he renamed it the Savoy Cinema and replaced the sound system with British Acoustic(BA) equipment.

In 1956 A. J. and C. M. Rogers acquired the Savoy Cinema, but they evidently closed it around 1958, as it last appeared in the Kinematograph Year Books in the 1959 edition.

The building was converted into a dance hall, but this does not appear to have lasted very long.

Its later fate is not known. According to the Scottish Cinemas database, the building has been demolished.

Contributed by David Simpson
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