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Grangemouth, Station Road, Empire Electric Theatre

Bingo Hall (21st Century), Cinema (20th Century)

Site Name Grangemouth, Station Road, Empire Electric Theatre

Classification Bingo Hall (21st Century), Cinema (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) La Scala

Canmore ID 320146

Site Number NS98SW 98

NGR NS 92753 82112

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/320146

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Grangemouth
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Site Management (16 November 2012)

Early, purpose-built cinema fronted by near symmetrical, 7-bay Scots Renaissance style vestibule block with 2-storey ogee-roofed outer pavilions. Scotch-bond red brick with sandstone ashlar dressings; rendered brick auditorium. Base course; moulded cornice; blocking course. Tripartite openings with moulded margins and cills. Moulded pilasters dividing bays with obelisk-finials above parapet. Giant, Composite-order corner pilasters to pavilions.

Part of the first wave of purpose-built cinemas constructed in Scotland following the introduction of the Cinematograph Act in 1910. Opened as the Empire Electric Theatre in December 1913 and renamed the La Scala three years later, it is a rare survivor of its type in Scotland. The earliest remaining example is the listed Hippodrome in nearby Bo'ness, which opened in March 1912 (see separate listing).

The La Scala occupies a prominent central location beside the Grangemouth Town Hall. The pavilioned vestibule section with its combination of red brick and Renaissance detailing is of particular note, providing considerable streetscape interest. The use of the Renaissance style is unusual in Scottish cinema design.

It is likely the interior has undergone at least one major set of alterations. The auditorium was partially rebuilt for sound in 1930 following the introduction of talking pictures. Richard Jaques suggests that this work may have been by architect Alistair G Macdonald, son of the Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald. The void behind the stage suggests that the building may have originally been intended to also function as a traditional theatre. The auditorium held 655 seats at the height of the cinema's popularity during the 1940s (Historic Scotland).

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