Gothenburg Picture House

21 Main Street,
Kelty, KY4 0DA

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Kelty Public House Society Ltd.

Architects: Andrew Scobie

Firms: Scobie & Son

Styles: Baroque

Previous Names: Gothenburg Public Hall

Nearby Theaters

Street view of the Gothenburg Hall c1912

The Gothenburg Picture House, constructed by the Gothenburg Temperance movement, known as the Kelty Public House Society, was initially named the Gothenburg Public Hall and was intended as a theatre and concert hall. Kelty, Fifeshire was a mining village that, at one time, held the distinction of being the largest village in Scotland. The population of this Scottish mining village was approximately 4,700 at the turn of century, increasing to around 5,000 by 1910.

In April 1909, the Kelty Public House Society solicited building contracts for a new public hall, designed by architect Andrew Scobie of the firm Scobie & Son Architects and Surveyors based in Dunfermline.

This new theatre & concert hall situated on Main Street in Kelty was constructed to accommodate 1,300 patrons at a cost of £5,000, which would be the equivalent to £733,934 today in 2023. The opening ceremony took place on Saturday 24th April 1910, with Dr. John Ross, the founder of the Gothenburg movement in West Fife, presiding over the event. Dr. Ross was presented with a gold key during the opening ceremony.

In 1912 a touring cinema company called Scott’s Royal Cinematograph Co. leased the Gothenburg Public Hall to present a cine-variety programme, usually for one night only, billed as “Scott’s Royal Cinematograph and High-Class Concert Party”. The success of these sessions persuaded the Gothenburg committee to install and manage their own presentations.

The Gothenburg Public Hall with a distinctive design was reminiscent of an old music hall. Guests entered the hall through three main doors, and upon entering, they found a relatively small foyer. The foyer featured two elegant sweeping staircases on either side, leading to a foyer landing with two sets of double doors leading to the balcony seating area. The auditorium had a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a horseshoe shaped balcony, a design, which was originally intended for concert and theatrical performances and may have posed challenges in terms of sightlines for cinema presentations. Indeed, the side balconies when cinema presentation took place were the cheap seats and people complained that they had stiff necks watching the screen from the side.

At a cost of more than £2,000, (approx. £149,943 today), a three-faced clock tower designed once again by Dunfermline architect Andrew Scobie was added in 1925 as a gift to the people of Kelty from the Kelty Public House Committee. The completion of the clock tower was celebrated in a dedication ceremony on Saturday 25th December 1925, which was reported in “The Scotsman” newspaper on Monday 28th December 1925.

The Gothenburg Picture House hosted numerous celebrity concerts and was a popular venue for local musical and dramatic societies. The Kelty Amateur Musical Association, in particular, held successful week-long productions at the venue from 1932 to 1937. After a 10-yeat hiatus, they returned for another performance in 1947 before ultimately relocating their productions to the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline.

The opening in 1939 of a modern purpose-built cinema, the Regal Cinema (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures), located two blocks away from the Gothenburg Picture House, marked the beginning of the end for the Gothenburg Picture House as a cinema. The advent of Television further contributed to a decline in the Gothenburg Picture house audience share. It had been equipped with CinemaScope and had a 36ft wide screen in a 40ft wide proscenium. It was equipped with a British Acoustic(BA) sound system. A Kelty resident, reminiscing about its final days as a cinema mentioned, “In fact, it was tuppence to get in there, and then the Regal Cinema opened where it was threepence. But in the Regal Cinema they kept the lights on, and at the end of its era, the old Taylor Manager didn’t put the heating on. Mrs Finlay took the entrance money, and Isabel Hadden’s mother was in the ice cream place”. Still open in 1963, it had closed by 1966.

Following its time as a cinema, the Gothenburg tried its hand at bingo and later transformed into a theatre. It also briefly operated as the Astoria Ballroom, which was a short-lived venture. This had involved an individual standing next to a juke box, selecting songs be inserting money, and then announcing their choices, possibly the first DJ in fact. In the early-1960’s, the hall changed hands and was purchased by the Swallow Raincoat Company, which converted it into a factory unit. Subsequently, Swallow was acquired by Grantham Rainwear Ltd. and in the early-1970’s they relocated their production to a newly constructed factory unit on the Glenfield Industrial Estate nearby.

After a period of abandonment, the Gothenburg Picture House was later acquired and subsequently demolished by the Dunfermline District Council in 1976. In its place now stands some architecturally uninspired flats, replacing the once proud and distinctive landmark.

Contributed by Steve Lynch

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

garypainter on October 14, 2006 at 7:51 pm

Further information, including some archive material contributed by Steve, can be found here:

View link

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.