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The new town of Clydebank started in the 1870s when James and George Thomson moved their prosperous Clyde Bank Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., some seven miles down the river Clyde from Govan to a greenfield site on the north bank of the Clyde, opposite the mouth of the river Cart, to give more space for the building and launching of the largest ships ever built in Britain. The yard became John Brown`s of Clydebank and became even more famous in the building of warships, cargo ships and passenger ships including the ocean liners of Cunard and many other companies.

The industrialist William Beardmore opened his own modern Beadmore shipyard in the adjoining district of Dalmuir, and the Singer Sewing Machine company built their huge manufacturing complex, Europe`s largest factory.

This Article on Clydebank was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

 

The Theatre, Belmont Street, Clydebank

While Clydebank`s residents could easily take a tram or train to go to Glasgow`s theatres they also developed their own places of entertainment. The first theatre was a wooden building in Belmont Street opened by 1890 and run by Messrs Whaley and Ashmall. On 29 March 1899 newspapers reported that “during a theatrical performance part of the gallery gave way, as did part of the side, carrying the occupants with it. A few ladies fainted, while several received bruises.”

This Article on The Theatre, Belmont Street, Clydebank was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Gaiety Theatre, Elgin Street, Clydebank

Later - The Bank Cinema

The Entrance to the Bank Cinema, formerly the Gaiety Theatre, Clydebank - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Above - The Entrance to the Bank Cinema, formerly the Gaiety Theatre, Clydebank - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

A poster for a Twice Nightly variety show at the Clydebank Gaiety Theatre on Monday the 20th of October 1913 - Courtesy Dan Muir.Spurred on by the demise of the Belmont building a new theatre opened on Burns Night, 25th January, 1902 in Elgin Street, at the corner of Glasgow Road. The Gaiety held over 1,200 people and was a variety theatre, one of the No.2 theatres in Scotland (the No 1 theatres being those of Howard & Wyndham and of Moss Empires).

In 1908 it was sold to AE Pickard who was expanding his entertainment circuit and property empire, and now cine-variety took hold. Pickard handed out his business cards which read --- “AE Pickard Unlimited of London, Paris, Moscow and Bannockburn.”

Right - A poster for a Twice Nightly variety show at the Clydebank Gaiety Theatre on Monday the 20th of October 1913 - Courtesy Dan Muir. On the Bill were Victoria Grovenor and Partner, Heeley Crawford, Queenie Forbes, Antonio Savaro, and a selection of moving pictures. Admission prices were 4d 6d and 1s.

Performances ended in 1917 with a revue by The Albany Company entitled “Cheerio” and after major renovation it became a full time cinema under the name of the Bank Cinema, finally closing in 1961.

This Article on the Gaiety Theatre was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Pavilion Picture and Variety Theatre, Kilbowie Road at Chalmers Street, Clydebank

Lex McLean - Courtesy Graeme Smith.Impresario George Urie Scott opened the latest of his chain of theatres and cinemas on 29th December 1919 called the Pavilion Picture and Variety Theatre, on Kilbowie Road at Chalmers Street. Its 2000 oak seats were made by disabled soldiers. Opening night was led by a club juggler Pauline Mars and the Five Jocks comedy singing troupe. It staged variety, pantomime (including Harry Gordon), touring revues, plays and films.

A few years later its pit orchestra pianist was a young Alexander McLean Cameron (shown right) who subsequently put himself on the stage in the 1940s, and changed his name to Lex McLean. In comedy and pantomime he was top of the bill in variety and pantomime across Scotland, and for years, until his death in 1975, he was the King of the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow (also owned by George Urie Scott.)

Right - Lex McLean - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Clydebank`s Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1942.

This Article on the Pavilion Theatre was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

Cinem Varieties Theatre, Graham Street, Clydebank

Later - The Palace of Varieties / The Palace Cinema

An early postcard showing Kilbowie Road, Clydebank. The Dome of the Palace Theatre can be seen far right - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Above - An early postcard showing Kilbowie Road, Clydebank. The Dome of the Palace Theatre can be seen far right - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Restaurateur H. McGregor opened in 1905 his “first class commercial restaurant” and function room in Graham Street at Kilbowie Road capable of holding 1000 people, complete with its twin towers. After a few years it became an American Roller Skating Rink and in 1913 it became the Cinem Varieties theatre (in due course changing its name to the Palace of Varieties in 1915). It had seats and boxes all on one level. It is still remembered in this popular ditty –

Clydebank has a little hall
Cinem is its name
Every week thousands call
For such is now its fame.

The building later became the Palace Cinema until it was destroyed by the Blitz in 1941.

This Article on the Cinem Varieties was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Empire Pleasure Palace, Glasgow Road, Clydebank

Later - The Empire Sound Cinema

An early photograph of the Empire Sound Cinema, formerly the Empire Pleasure Palace, Clydebank - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Above - An early photograph of the Empire Sound Cinema, formerly the Empire Pleasure Palace, Clydebank - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

The Empire Pleasure Palace opened on 31 December 1914 on Glasgow Road, opposite Bon Accord Street, advertising itself as "Clydebank's most up-to-date Pleasure Palace".

Designed by architect Richard Henderson for the Clydebank Picture House Co, and built at a cost of around £4,000, the Empire seated 1,300 in stalls, circle and gallery. It promoted variety and revues. Richard Henderson also designed the Govan Cinema and the Shawlands Picture House in Glasgow. He was a pioneer in concrete construction.

The Empire was converted to a cinema in 1927, continuing until a fire destroyed it in 1959.

This Article on the Empire Pleasure Palace was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

R.M.S. AQUITANIA - The First Ocean-going Theatre

A postcard depicting Cunard's R.M.S. Aquitania - Courtesy Graeme Smith

Above - A postcard depicting Cunard's R.M.S. Aquitania - Courtesy Graeme Smith

The Theatre on board the R.M.S. Aquitania - Courtesy Graeme Smith.By the first decade of the 20th century Moss Empires were the largest group of variety theatres in the world and they continued to expand their interests by starting the first circuit of vaudeville on the ocean, adding musical comedy and opera.

Britain had the largest shipping lines and encircled the world. Cunard signed a deal with Moss Empires` managing director Frank Allen to be first and work was completed at Clydebank on board the new liner Aquitania before its maiden voyage in May 1914. The purpose built theatre held 1,500 and had an orchestra, box office, full stage and dressing rooms, to end old style ships concerts in lounges.

Right - The Theatre on board the R.M.S. Aquitania - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

This Article on the R.M.S. Aquitania was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

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