Radio Cinema

1 Bridgend,
Kilbirnie, KA25 7DF

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Opened in 1937, the Radio Cinema was built for and operated by the independent locally based Bridgend Picture House Ltd. It was designed by architect James Houston (his last surviving work) in a simple Art Deco style, almost Art Moderne in its simplicity.

The main striking feature on the facade was a deeply recessed alcove in the centre, above the entrance, which originally had a tall metal radio transmitter pylon, with purple flashing neon zig-zags and a flashing light at the top.

Inside, the foyer had a swirling terrazzo and mosaic floor. In the auditorium, seating was arranged on a stadium plan, with 320 in a raised rear section, that did not overhang the lower seating, which had a capacity of 880. The interior decoration originally consisted of painted stars, planets and futuristic designs. The proscenium was 28 feet wide.

It was taken over by the George Palmer circuit in 1948 and continued under their control, being re-named George Cinema in 1959, but closed in the late 1960’s. The transmitter pylon was removed from the front of the building and it was converted into an independent bingo club, named the George Bingo Club. This operated until around 1995.

The building was then empty for many years, until it was restored and re-opened in September 2003 as a community centre and gym. The building looks almost like it did when first opened in 1939, as a replica transmitter pylon is now back in place, and is illuminated at night!

On 19th April 2000, Historic Scotland designated the Radio Cinema a Grade C(s) Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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