Fond memories of going to ‘the pictures’

Jennifer Thomson will be one of your usherettes at the memories event, resplendent in authentic uniform
Jennifer Thomson will be one of your usherettes at the memories event, resplendent in authentic uniform

Cinemas are the places you had your first date, where you first saw a classic film up on the big screen or an Oscar-winning performance.

Whatever you call it – the pictures, the movies – everyone has a memory of going along to the local cinema and Bo’ness’ Hippodrome is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built picture house which opened in 1912 and still retains its historic features following a revamp in 2009.

The district has a rich history of cinemas including the Odeon, the Regal – now City nightclub in Falkirk’s Princes Street, the Roxy, ABC or the Pavillion.

Gone are the days when ushers and usherettes would walk round the seats offering ice creams and even Wild Woodbine and Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes back in the days when clouds of smoke obscured the screen, or shine the torch in your face if you were misbehaving – especially in the back row.

ButFalkirk Community Trust is revisiting those heady days of cinema from the early 20th century in the aptly named Green Room in Callendar House next month.

The nostalgic journey into some of the most iconic films in history and the cinemas which furnished Falkirk’s streets will feature film extracts including the famous Pearl and Dean advertisement and newsreels from the Scottish Screen Archive.

If the event is a success the trust hopes to hold a larger one in the Hippdrome in the future.

The Memories of ... Cinemas in the Falkirk Area event is being held on Thursday, October 15 in Callendar House with screenings at 11am and 2pm.

One of the trust’s learning assistants, Jennifer Thomson, said the idea for the Memories of ... Cinemas in the Falkirk Area came from feedback from residents who took part in a previous memories project.

The audience will be able to share their memories of their favourite movie scenes and songs, screen icons such as Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, John Wayne or Audrey Hepburn and eating choc ices.

The Callendar House archives also has a selection of memorabilia from old cinemas, including one of the dreaded usher’s torches from around 1939.

Jennifer said: “There isn’t really a bad memory of the cinema from what I’ve heard from a lot of people. They went on first dates there, got all dressed up, watched all the iconic films on the big screen.

“Just the whole experience was so different than it is nowadays, it was a real social occasion.

“Some of the stuff we will be screening on the day we’ve got from Scottish Screen Archives, we’ve been working closely with them and we have a few items here that will be on display on the day as well.”

Tickets for the event are £3.50 and can be booked at The Steeple box office on (01324) 506850.