Cinema restored to 1935 grandeur

Campbeltown Picture House's restored 1930's main auditorium.

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The doors opened yesterday at Campbeltown Picture House (CPH) for a first glimpse of the main auditorium in one of the world’s most significant cinemas.

CPH is nearing the end of a £3.5m restoration which has seen the art nouveau exterior extensively restored and the main auditorium returned to its 1930s design.

A category A listed building, CPH has the joint accolade of being one of Europe’s few surviving atmospheric cinemas and Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema still in operation.

Yesterday Campbeltown Community Business Ltd (CCB), which has owned and run the cinema for thirty years, revealed the restored 1935 auditorium.

Early 20th century cinema specialist Albert V. Gardner created CPH’s Art Nouveau design in 1913 and returned 20 years later to modernise the interior of the cinema which he did in the ‘atmospheric’ style.

Popular from the late 1920s atmospheric cinemas transported audiences to exotic places.

The ceilings were often painted with starry skies or with wispy floating clouds and other elements such as trellises, balconies and painted trees created the special atmosphere.

CPH is Scotland’s sole atmospheric cinema and one of only a handful in Europe.

Gardner embellished the cinema with a blue sky with moving white clouds projected across it, and two plasterwork buildings, known locally as the ‘wee houses’ on either side of the screen.

CCB chairman Jane Mayo said: ‘We are incredibly proud to have such an historically significant building in Campbeltown and delighted to have restored it to its original glory.

‘CPH is unusual in that the original architect was also responsible for the later upgrade of the cinema creating a unique combination of art nouveau exterior and atmospheric interior.”

‘The restoration has been based on detailed archival research.’

‘Among the elements of 1935 design that have been reinstated are the repainted ceiling, the colour scheme for the ‘wee houses’ specially made art deco lights and the return of the historically popular love seats.’

The work has been made possible with a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund .

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: ‘It’s very exciting to have a glimpse of it, as magnificent as it was the day it first opened its doors.

‘It won’t be long until the restoration of this well-loved building is complete so that it can take its cultural role in the community bringing joy to all those who visit it.’

For further information visit: www.

Campbeltown Picture House’s main auditorium. 25_c47cphscreen0ne01