Site Specifics: The Hippodrome, Bo’Ness
What is it? Opened in 1912, the Hippodrome was Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema. This beautiful pre-art deco picture palace was designed by local architect Matthew Steele for Louis Dickson, a cinematographic pioneer, who used it to show his own movies alongside popular films of the day. After 60 years the cinema fell into disrepair. It showed its last film in 1975 and closed shortly after. It was briefly resurrected as a bingo hall and then locked up and left to rot despite receiving B and A category protected building status from Historic Scotland.
Great, another old derelict cinema, sounds like a fantastic day out But wait, the Hippodrome has risen. Following Falkirk council’s £2.1m restoration project, the Hippodrome is back and looking better than ever. On Monday 6 April the cinema was relaunched with a swanky red carpet do and a screening of Mamma Mia! and is now open to the public again.
Mamma Mia! Are they showing any decent films? They certainly are. In the next few months they will be showing Monsters v Aliens, State of Play, Let the Right One In and a load of golden oldies including Forbidden Planet and Whisky Galore!
Anything else going on? Plenty. Keeping true to the cinema’s roots, the programmers are hosting a series of special events for adults and children based on archival film footage, much of it from the Falkirk area.
Bet the tickets are pricey? Wrong again. Adults £5, family tickets from £13.80 plus all manner of offers.
What about refreshments? There’s a café with popcorn, ice cream, sweets and drinks. For adults there’s a fully licensed bar.
I’m sold, how do I get there? By car from Glasgow exit the M9 at J5 onto A905 then take A904 into Bo’Ness. From Edinburgh, exit M9 at J3 onto A803 then on to A904.
By train the nearest station is Linlithgow. Visit falkirk.gov.uk/cultural