Free tours roll out the cinema’s red carpet

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Cinema buffs are being given exclusive access to Campbeltown’s historic picture house this month – free of charge.

Campbeltown Picture House is running free tours every Tuesday and Thursday in August, showcasing the revamped and expanded grade A listed building’s best features.

Four volunteers are leading the tours, which begin at 10.30am and do not need to be booked, with those wishing to take part meeting at the cinema’s front desk.

A Courier reporter joined 14 people of all ages – and a dog – on Tuesday’s tour, led by Geraldine Davey, and learned a few new things.

The tour began by heading back outside to look at the exterior of the building, which was designed by Glasgow School of Art alumni and architect Albert Victor Gardner, at its original entrance.

The tour continued into the cinema’s screen one, with its iconic two ‘wee hooses’ either side of the stage, one of which used to be a broom cupboard and the other allegedly the manager’s office.

It was revealed that in 1960 it cost 3s to sit on the balcony and 1s 6d to sit in the stalls.

People said that it was actually quite expensive at the time, with one commenting: ‘It cost a lot of pocket money to come to the cinema.’

A few people tested the comfort of some of the 193 seats from French firm Quinette Gallay, with one gentleman who was reluctant to get up again commenting: ‘Just give me a shout when you’re leaving.’

The tour continued upstairs to the balcony, where Mrs Davey pointed out the clouds painted on the roof, fitting in with the cinema’s ‘atmospheric’ status.

‘This is supposedly the closest we can get to the original,’ she said.

She said that the cinema, once nicknamed the ‘flea pit’ due to its inferior stature compared to the Rex cinema, employed a pianist, Adam Ritchie Greig, when it first opened in 1913 to accompany the silent films.

When ‘talkies’ started to become popular and his playing was no longer required, Mr Greig founded an orchestra which proved very popular for social events and functions.

The tour continued into the new, second screen, which has 52 seats, with many comments on its intimate setting.

The cinema operated continuously from when it first opened its doors until it closed in 2014, for three years, for £3.5 million of renovations.

To find out even more take the next tours, on Tuesday August 14 and Thursday August 16, at 10.30am.

Geraldine Davey, in the centre of the balcony of screen one, led her first tour of the cinema this week. 50_c32cinematours02