Star Picture Palace

23 Park Street,
Aberdeen, AB24

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The Star Picture Palace - 1936

The Star Picture Palace, known in Aberdeen as ‘The Starrie’, was opened in 1911 by Bert Gates in a former mission hall dating from 1903. The cinema’s name came from the mission hall’s red stained glass star above the corner entrance. It can’t be seen in the only extant photo, shown here, because it’s obscured under the glass canopy. “The People’s Popular Picture Palace” enjoyed great success from the start, and in 1913 the auditorium was enlarged and improved to double the capacity, yet spare seats remained scarce.

Talkies didn’t come to the Star Picture Palace until 13th October 1930 due to reservations on the part of the normally cinema-wise manager, Bert Gates usually a leader in the field rather than a follower. He bought the Casino Cinema in Wales Street, which backed on to the Star Picture Palace, with the intention of converting both into a single large cinema fronting the new Beach Boulevard. Gates concentrated his business on the Casino Cinema and closed the Star Picture Palace in November 1939 but World War II delayed work on the new boulevard until the 1950’s and Bert Gates’ plan was never carried out.

The Star Picture Palace briefly housed a funfair then served as the Boulevard Ballroom for the duration of the war, where dancers had the interesting experience of attempting to foxtrot up and down its raked floor! After the war the building remained shuttered and forgotten, the only clue to its past being the red stained glass star which was exposed when the canopy was removed. The building was demolished in 1971 along with the Casino Cinema, and the site now occupied by a housing development.

Contributed by Jim Brooks
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