The gem that is Campbeltown Picture House is a unique Glasgow School Art Nouveau building which opened in 1913 and was upgraded by the original architect, Albert V Gardner, in 1934. The Grade A listed building is one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Scotland, the oldest which has always operated as a cinema, and one of very few ‘atmospheric’ cinemas still in existence in the world.
The team from Campbeltown Community Business that has worked with awesome resolve for something over a decade on a project to restore, upgrade and bring into the digital age this delightful grace note of frivolity on the imposing Canpbeltown waterfront, has just reached a crucial decision that accelerates the final realisation of the dreams of this imposing town for what might be called its signature building.
The company.has announced its appointment of CorraMore Construction to carry out the ambitious restoration and redevelopment. The succeess of the entire enterprise now rests with the calibre of the work that CorraMore deliver.
Based in Magherafelt in Northern Ireland and in business since 1999, what CorraMore say about themselves seems to speak to an company focused on quality, majoring on close client liaison and support and a business ethos of teamwork, which includes its subcontractors.
Their specific portfolio on heritage and listed structures is impressive. It ranges from Sumburgh Lighthouse on Shetland, built by Robert Stevenson in 1851, to the grand Georgian Court House in Caledon in Northern Ireland, to the Killiehuntly Estate in the Scottish highlands, to the spectacular Lissan House in the Sperrin Mountains – which boasts the the longest known occupation by a single family [the Staples] of a domestic dwelling in Ireland.
The £2.5 million construction contract for the Picture House is part of the £3.5 million Centenary Project to preserve and restore the unique features of the Picture House whilst upgrading it to the highest contemporary standards and ensuring its future success as a cinema and cultural hub for Kintyre.
Typically wasting no time, the Campbeltown Community Business has said that restoration and construction work is due to start this month, February 2016; and finish in March 2017.
The cinema will reopen in Spring 2017, featuring a 192 seat main auditorium, a 53 seat new second auditorium, a new entrance foyer and café, a gallery and education room – and modern energy systems.
Jane Mayo, Chair of Campbeltown Community Business,says: ‘CCB first made contact with the Heritage Lottery Fund nearly seven years ago to begin the process of delivering the final phase of the restoration of Campbeltown Picture House. When the cinema reopens in 2017 it will be a fitting celebration of the thirty years’ stewardship by this community of this precious building.
‘It is an exciting moment for all those many people who have been involved in its care, that CCB is finally able to announce the appointment of a contractor to deliver the construction part of the project. This has been made possible by the generosity of so many people from the donation of a few pounds gathered up from coins found on the street to many more substantial sums.
‘The Picture House has always been a local concern from its initial conception by a group of over forty shareholders with local connections more than one hundred years ago.
‘When the restoration is complete this cinema will be able to stand tall amongst the great cinema buildings of the world. It is hoped this will add to the impact of other recent developments in the town to bring a new era of prosperity to Kintyre.’
Jonathan Payne, Managing Director of CorraMore Construction, says: ‘CorraMore are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious contract and we look forward to working with all of the stakeholders to deliver a landmark building that forms part of the strong heritage of Campbeltown and will become an important centre of culture for the local community.’
Archtitects, Burrell Foley Fischer, say: ‘Burrell Foley Fischer look forward to CorraMore joining the team for the construction stage of the Centenary Project for the Picture House in Campbeltown. The project will bring the historic cinema up to the standards expected by a modern cinema going audience, while respecting its architectural and historical significance. It will also provide much needed new foyer, cafe bar, and exhibition facilities and a second screen.
‘Through our experience of working with many independent cinemas throughout the UK, we are very aware of the importance of these venues to their local communities and we are delighted to be able to contribute, as architects, to the sustainable future of such an historically important and much loved cinema.’
David Taylor, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Creative Scotland says: ‘Creative Scotland welcomes this important step towards realising the vision of a refurbished cinema for Campbeltown and Kintyre. This special building is set to provide fantastic cinema experiences for people for many years to come.’
Sue Gledhill, Interim Area Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise [HIE],which has invested £300,000 in the redevelopment of Campbeltown Picture House. , says: ‘It is great to see work get underway. CCB has done a fantastic job driving forward their ambitious plans to turn this amazing building into the main arts and cultural centre for Kintyre.
‘The project highlights the value of community assets in making the region a more attractive place to live, work, study and invest, and we very much look forward to seeing it taking shape.’
Campbeltown, Kintyre and friends across Argyll will, next Spring, see the end result of this communally dedicated enterprise – in operation. Will they do the best popcorn ever?