19-21 George Place, Bathgate, West Lothian, EH48 1NX
Architect: John Fairweather Listing: C-Listed (2008) No of Seats: 1067
Status: Closed as Cinema – Repurposed as Bingo Opened: 1920 Closed: 1967
Other information: Green’s. s. 839 + 364 balc. Dean of Guild reports in West Lothian Chronicle, 22-8-1919, opening report WLC 26-3-20.
Earliest intact survivor of the George Green chain of cinemas. An early example of a work by John Fairweather, it is a good, largely unaltered example of cinemas of the period just after the first world war, and before the developments towards modern streamlined design.
The Bathgate Pavilion opened 25th March 1920, replacing an earlier cinema run by George Green in the town. This older cinema, the 1913 Picturehouse, had been converted from a roller skating rink, when Green’s first decided to set up a permanent cinema in the town (this family of show-folk had taken early to cinema exhibition). The replacement building, in George Place, was typical of cinemas of the period.
The exterior was plain; unlike later cinema buildings, there was no attempt to create a separate show façade to hide the auditorium block behind; here the frontage is the auditorium block itself. This building was clearly built to a tight budget.
The composition is mostly symmetrical, with a set of entrance doors placed centrally beneath an arch, echoing the proscenium arch inside the building. Three small windows above this arch gave light to the projection room, while above the gable is pierced by a round hole for ventilation.
The series of doors, with a row of stained glass above them, lead to a small entrance foyer. This features a central paybox, stairs up to the balcony on either side, and doors through to the stalls. This small foyer space, taking up a very small proportion of the volume of the building, is typical for cinemas of the time. It was only later that grand entrance foyers and cafes began to be typical features of a cinema (in order to increase takings from catering as exhibitors started to take larger percentages of the profits from actually showing films); at this point however maximising takings by maximising seating capacities on a small site was key.
The long, rectangular auditorium, which originally sat 1067, is in good condition. While the cinema seating has been removed and the stalls rake floored over to allow for bingo, the building has been well looked after.
The ceiling is segmented, with plain panels outlined by detailed decorative plasterwork foliage. A series of ventilation ducts are placed down the central ceiling panels.
The proscenium is tall, with straight sides, and a curved archway above. It is flanked by two archways, with carved decorative panels within. The side walls are largely plain, broken up by a series of pilasters with decorative tops. One wall features a series of square decorative panels between these; the other has windows covered by shutters in the same positions. Windows were often a feature of earlier cinema auditoria, opened between performances to allow fresh air and daylight into the auditorium.
The small balcony has a flat front, and is flanked on either side by a theatrical-style false box and blank archway (partially pierced on one side to give a view from an office into the auditorium).
Closed as a cinema in 1967; Now a bingo hall. It was listed Category C by Historic Scotland in 2008