St. Enoch Picture Theatre

28 Argyle Street,
Glasgow, G2 8AD

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St. Enoch Picture Theatre

In Glasgow city centre, Crouch’s Theatre of Varieties, later known as Crouch’s Wonderland, opened in 1881. Films were first shown in 1897. The theatre was rebuilt and reopened on 7th January 1913, still with films supplementary to variety, before becoming a full-time cinema, the St. Enoch Picture Theatre, in the late-1920’s. The cinema closed in 1935, when the building was the subject of a compulsory purchase order. But this came to nothing and the building survived. In December 1998, when my photograph was taken, it was occupied by shops.

Contributed by David Simpson

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson on February 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I am indebted to Bill Crouch (no relation to proprietor Herbert Crouch) for providing the photograph of the St. Enoch Picture House and these references from books and newspapers.

In 1897 Crouch’s Wonderland exhibited “A Living Baby; 12 inches long; 24 ounces in weight; age 16 months” (according to ‘They Belonged to Glasgow’, undated, by Rudolph Kenna and Ian Sutherland) while, on 9th December 1907, the ‘Glasgow Programme’ reported that “This popular exhibition has been overhauled and some very important attractions have been added for the holidays. [The Waxworks] are not only permanent attractions quite equal to many of our variety halls, but a thousand little wax figures and side shows which amaze and interest the curious visitor.”

On 18th February 1909, ‘The Eagle’ reported that Herbert Crouch was born 67 years ago in Burton Crescent, behind old St. Pancras Church, London. After running away from home he enlisted in the 4th Royal Artillery, seeing active service in Canada before buying his discharge in Montreal. Returning to England he made his first acquaintance with show life when he met a chap called Hewitt, better known (for reasons not given!) as “Squeaking Betty”, and they visited Glasgow during the Fair. Splitting from Hewitt, Crouch returned to Glasgow and exhibited the first tinfoil gramophone in a shop in St. Vincent Street. It created a sensation; after the engagement he bought the machine from Professor Forbes, of the Andersonian College, for £7 10s, and exhibited it at 137 Argyle Street. Eventually he opened the waxworks at that address, adding freaks, mechanical figures and bronze statues over the last thirty years.

And on 3rd January 1944, in a letter in ‘The Glasgow Herald’, “L.M.” said that his father had been commissioned to paint an advertisement banner for the exterior when films were first exhibited. He recalled that Mr Crouch was unsure whether “Cinematograph” was subject to copyright, so he used “Kinematograph”. The operator [projectionist] was Mrs Crouch. The films, running 200ft or 300ft, had to be bought outright. They had no titles, so Mr Crouch would stand to one side announcing each of them. The hall used for the film shows was on the ground floor. Very early musical ‘sound’ films were shown, using a hook-up between the projector and a gramophone record, but they were difficult to synchronise and they did not last long. It is believed that Mr Crouch died a few months before the First World War, at about 70 years of age.

JMAC22
JMAC22 on February 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm

The above information is fascinating for our family as we are descendants of Herbert Crouch. Any more information you may have would be so appreciated.

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