This thread features #NowAndThen photomontages of demolished Edinburgh and Leith cinemas, overlaid onto their current environs. At Abbeymount, The Regent cinema, which was open 1927-1970 overlaid on the current street, the site is now occupied by one of the omnipresent private student housing blocks. Named after the Regent Road and Bridge up the hill, the bar at the top of Abbeymount is also called The Regent.
That picture of the Regent seemed to be popular, so I did another cinema. Here’s The Ritz / ABC on Rodney Street, open 1929 – 1981.
The Tudor, Edinburgh’s weirdest looking cinema? Actually “The Savoy” for most of its life, it was on St. Bernard’s Row, just off of Raeburn Place in Stockbridge. Open 1911-1966.
Poole’s Synod on Castle Terrace. The ecclesiastical name came from its roots as the United Presbyterian Church’s Synod Hall. It was converted from an unsuccessful city theatre scheme by the eminent local architect, businessman and politician Sit James Gowans. It ceased to be required when the U.P. Church merged with the Free Church in 1900 to form the United Free Church. It was a cinema from 1928 – 1965 and introduced “talkies” to the city. The whole block was demolished in 1966 to make way for a never built Opera House. The plot lay vacant for about 30 years and is now filled by Saltire House.
Here’s an obscure one, The Blue Halls on Lauriston Street, converted from the West Port Livestock Market in 1930, it had 1,780 seats. Renamed The Beverly in 1954 and closed in 1959. The whole block was demolished to be replaced by the grim looking brutalist National Coal Board and General Post Office tower blocks, which met the same fate about 40 years later. The block has been replaced by modern flats, offices, shops and hotels.
Ever wondered where the Alhambra Bar on Leith Walk took it’s name from? Meet The Alhambra Theatre. Opened in 1914 as a variety hall it was a full cinema from 1915 – 1958. It lay vacant for decades and was demolished in 1974 to make way for a garage. It is now the site of a Majestic wine store – you can still get a decent pint over the road in the Alhambra Bar.
The Embassy on Boswall Parkway, East Pilton. A 1937 “super cinema” and about the only entertainment venue to serve the surrounding council housing schemes. Like other cities, Edinburgh’s interwar “schemes” suffered from a concentration of new housing on greenfield sites far from the trappings of life like shops and pubs and cinemas. Otherwise good quality housing, which was a huge improvement on the slums that they replace, became somewhat unpopular as a result. The Embassy closed in 1964 after a fire and is now a social housing block.
Two for the price of one; a triple composite montage. The County on Wauchope Avenue in Craigmillar, a Bingo hall by the time this photo was taken in 1970. It is imposed on a 2008 image of the decrepit housing estate, over a present-day image of the still empty land, awaiting redevelopment long after the notorious housing was cleared. Niddrie and Craigmillar were further examples of vast housing schemes built with little to entertain the residents. They suffered some of the worst for it in the 1970s and 1980s, when a long term run-down in maintenance was coupled with surging unemployment, drugs, crime, AIDS and a general Thatcherite malaise. The result was a complete destruction of the communities and the wrecking ball cleaning up afterwards.
Poole’s Roxy at the western end of Gorgie Road, a 2,000 seater super-cinema built in 1937 to serve the growing suburbs by the same family who ran the Poole’s Synod. It closed as a cinema in 1963, then did a 40-year shift as a bingo hall – 14 years longer than it was a cinema. The auditorium is long gone but the façade has been retained. IT was a bed showroom for years on the ground floor, now a giant ice cream parlour.
The Palace on Princes Street, open from 1913-1955 when it was closed and demolished to allow the expansion of neighbouring Woolworths department store. #nowandthen
The Rutland, which once stood at the foot of Dewar Place on Canning Street. One of Edinburgh’s largest cinemas with seats for 2,200. Known for an elaborately painted interior, reopened 1950 as The Gaumont, closed after a devastating fire in 1963 and demolished.
The Salon, an 800 seater whose remains were recently demolished on Baxter’s Place. It opened with an Arabian Nights theme and was known locally as “the Harem”. It had a seedy reputation and closed in 1974, the auditorium was demolished but the façade hung on for another 40 years. The Salon had an elaborate neon-lit frontage. The last remnants were demolished around 2018 and replaced with a blank wall to support a terrace for the conversion of the Georgian block of Baxter’s Place behind into a hotel.
No, not that old cinema on Bath Street in Portobello (by which I mean the George or County, whose building is still hanging on, I mean the other one. The Bungalow, given a patriotic renaming in WW2 to The Victory. Converted from a meeting hall in 1914, closed in 1956 and was used as workshops. Demolished 2005, with a new block of flats built on the plot in 2017.
The entrance to Edinburgh Marine Gardens, a vast Edwardian amusement park, lies exactly where the entrance to Lothian Buses’ Marine Garage now is. The park was a permanent home for the structures of the 1908 Scottish Exhibition at Saughton Park and included a variety of entertainments, including a cinema and dance hall.