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Largs Cinemas

Purpose built cinemas began to appear in Scotland around 1910 and by 1920 there were 557 cinemas in Scotland. The cinema boom eventually reached Largs with its first cinema in 1912. We beleive there has been 6 cinemas operating in Largs over the last 100 years entertaining the good folk of Largs.

Largs Electric Picture Pavilion

The first cinema was opened in largs in 1911 in Stanlane Place. It was called the Electric Picture Pavilion. Built in 1910 and designed by James Houston the venue was operated by the Bridgend Picture House Company who later sold the premises to George Palmer in 1944.

After the cinema closed in 1952 it was bought by a Glasgow family and reopened as the Star Ballroom where it was a dance hall at night and restaurant during the day. Later it became the Star Bingo Hall.

For a period it was owned by the Clark Memorial Church and used as a general hall. Later it housed business offices and today it has been modernised into a private home.

A few years ago this home it was up for sale and various internal photos on the Right Move web site showed that the interior had been upgraded to a very high standard providing a beautiful luxury home. It was also interesting to note that the upgrade incorporated a private family cinema room within the home thus making it one of the oldest cinemas still in use in Scotland.

largs pavilion cinema
old pavilion cinema stan lane largs
stanlane cinema largs
A Pavilion advert from 1912
The Electric Picture Pavilion

The Picture House Waterside Street

picture house cinema waterside street largs
The first church on this site was built in 1780. In 1820 became the United Secession Church. In 1826 the original church was completely rebuilt on the same site with a new manse also being built next door. It had seating for 690 people and cost £750. In 1847 it became the United Presbyterian Church and finally the Church of Scotland. In 1892 the congregation moved to the new Clark Memorial Church.

Later it became a public hall. On Thursday August 24 1911 Mrs Pankhurst the Suffragette leader visited Largs on a speaking tour of Scotland once used it to deliver a speech on votes for women.

In 1913 it was converted to a cinema known as The Picture House and later renamed as The George after George Palmer took ownership. It hosted the first talky movie in Largs.

In 1991 it became Narducci Auction Room, today is the Narducci Antiques and has appeared on day time TV a few times recently as a location for BBC show Bargain Hunt.

The Victoria Electric Theatre and Royal Animated Picture Palace

largs victoria cinema
Nelson Street once had its own picture house with rather grand name of the Victoria Electric Theatre and Royal Animated Picture Palace.

An advert in the Largs and Millport Weekly News read. "A special programme of up-to-date Pictures will be selected twice weekly to suit all classes. The Management are sparing no expense in refurnishing and redecorating the Hall, which has now been fitted up with a grand raking floor, tip-up chairs, and will be illuminated with Electric Light throughout. A large staff has been engaged; and the Theatre will be the coolest in Scotland, as it is the best ventilated Electric Palace on record."

Prices for the movies were 3d, 4d and 6d. The proprietors were listed as Messrs Hodges and O'Brien, and the grand opening night was on Monday June 24, with performances at 7pm and 9pm, and a children's matinee on Saturdays. The silent movies which were listed included The Tramps Gratitude, Painter and the Pigs, and Spanish Love Song for the opening night.

However things did not go according to plan. There was no more news of the Nelson Street cinema until the Largs and Millport Weekly News edition of July 13. Under a special notice to residents and visitors the advert stated "The Management beg to be excused for the failure of the first performance on Wednesday night., but have pleasure in announcing that everything is now in perfect order ,and they hope to receive a share of patronage. Everything will be done to please all classes, to roll up and pay as a visit."

Source: Largs and Millport News, June 2012

Later the Victoria Hall was used for function's such as wedding receptions.

The image left is an advert from 1912.

Barrfields Pavilion Theatre was built as a Public Hall and Theatre on the site of Mansfield House (image below) formally known as South Kirklands. In 1818 the resident was Thomson Honeyman. In 1834 Dr Hugh Lang lived there who made his fortune in the West Indies and was one of the first people to order a purpose built yacht from Fifes of Fairle. In 1894 it was home of Dewar Paton. In 1929 the house was demolished for the new Barrfields Theatre.

old kirkland
mr barr

The Barrfields Theatre was officially opened by a Mrs Barr on 11th April 1930. Mr Robert Barr (image above) had previously purchased the house and grounds of Mansefield and gifted them to the town. He also donated £1,000 towards the new building. The name for the new theatre was appropriate officially changed to Barrfields.

The first show was held on the 11th April 1930 with 1,000 people present. Initial shows were performed by local Largs groups. The first lease of municipally owned Barrfield shows was in 1930 by a Mr J Mungo from Prestwick.

In 1931 Mr Harry Kemp , the cinema and amusements king of North Ayrshire, began his run of 10 summer shows. In 1940s George Bowie began his long run of entertainment. In 1950 Mr Louis Freedman the Glasgow bandleader won the lease but he lost money. In 1952 Mr Bowie took over again and presented shows into the to 1960s.

Many of the Scottish great acts of the time performed at Barrfields, Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy ,Andy Stewart, and The Alexander Brothers all entertained locals and visiting holiday makers alike. In the 70s popular acts like Billy Connelly and Gallagher and Lyle performed in the theatre.

In 1971 the swimming pool was built. In 1995 a new visitor centre was added and the theatre was refurbished. This included a winter garden, shop ,Café and the Vinkingar historical attraction.. The theatre is now owned by North Ayrshire Council and can entertain an audience of 500. Today Barrfields is still very popular combining professional touring acts along side productions from the Largs Players , Largs Operatic and the Largs Youth Theatre.

And Last of all

In the 1920s two Glasgow businessmen ran a cinema in the Old Artillery Hall on Brisbane Road. This building was built in 1875 as a drill hall for the local territorial unit. It was also made available for other organisations and regular dances, concerts and sports activities took place there. Apparently the cinema was not very popular as the projection equipment broke down regularly. Before the building was demolished it was used by the Social Security, who had to move into a porta cabin when demolition began. New flats were built on the site in 2016.