The biggest of the just announced awards from the Scottish government through Historic Scotland, for the repair of eight historic buildings across the country, has gone to Campbeltown.
It is for the glorious little cinema – The Picture House – on the waterfront of the Kintyre town, designed by major architect AV Gardner of Gardner and Glen and opening on 26th May 1913.
Today it is the oldest purpose-built cinema in Scotland still showing films. Amongst many other ‘only ones’ it has also held its original name throughout its history.
The Picture House, uniquely designed on a series of vertical concentric ovals, has been awarded almost £450,00 of a total of £2 million in awards to enable the repair of historic buildings.
It is unlikely that any building so supported today will receive the universal warmth of community celebration that this one will.
The Picture House adds substantially to life as well as heritage in this grand merchant town; and it brings variety to what is available to visitors, individuals and families alike, on holiday in Kintyre.
Jane Mayo, who chairs Campbeltown Community Business Ltd and The Picture House Ltd, is quoted as saying of the award: ‘The directors and the design team of the Picture House are delighted with the offer of grant assistance from Historic Scotland to conserve this internationally important cinema.
‘This funding will enable the building to be conserved and repaired to the highest standard. We look forward to working with them to ensure the survival of this important cultural and community asset.’
The Picture House sits gaily, softly, roundly, in the midst of the serious mercantile buildings of the town, countering their assertion of status with its own promise of fun.
It was built to hold 640, an indication of the prosperity of the town, once a thriving fishing and shipping port for Kintyre – a town now clearly in charge of itself, shaping a new and sustainable future in a different world.
Argyll and Bute’s MSP Michael Russell syas of the news: ‘This is a fantastic vote of confidence in the community company that runs the cinema and in the Campbeltown community itself.
‘Next May the Campbeltown Picture House will mark its centenary and the ambitious refurbishment and restoration plans have been given a huge boost by Historic Scotland.
‘I was very pleased to speak at the funders day event earlier this year and I will go on supporting what is not only an architectural gem with probably the best siting of any cinema in Scotland as well as some unique interior features , but also a vibrant community business that is serving local people week in, week out.’