Nine lost Glasgow cinemas that are gone but not forgotten

There are few places in the western world that have enjoyed a more potent love affair with cinema than Glasgow.

In fact, it’s a matter of record that our city once had more venues per person than anywhere outside of North America.

If we wind back the reel to the days before every household boasted a television set, it turns out that there was practically a cinema on every corner of our Dear Green Place.

For many Glaswegians, there was nothing better than a trip to the pictures, and, boy, were we blessed with some brilliant venues.

At the height of cinema construction in the decade leading up to the Second World War, Glasgow’s movie romance peaked, with the city opening some of the most architecturally stunning purpose-built temples to film to be found anywhere in the British Isles.

Inventive operators coined exotic and grand sounding names for their new cinemas; names that would trip off the tongue, such as La Scala, the Olympia, and the Paramount.

Within little more than a generation, however, cinema’s golden age began to dim. Scores of venues in the city began to suffer from falling attendances and, later on, competition from the state-of-the-art multiplexes that are common today.

While a great number of Glasgow’s best loved cinemas, many dressed in striking art deco stylings and other elaborate designs, are now gone with the wind, a select few survive, having found new leases of life.

Grab some popcorn and take your seat for today’s main feature, as we take a closer look at 9 lost Glasgow cinemas that are gone but not forgotten.

Odeon, Renfield Street



Odeon Cinema, Glasgow, Scotland, 30th December 1955.


Odeon cinema.
Super Marios Bros was among the main features at the Odeon in Renfield Street in 1993.

Opening as the Paramount in 1934, this city centre landmark set a new standard for cinema architecture in Glasgow.

Later rebranded under the Odeon banner, the cinema survived the culls of the 1960s and ’70s and was remodelled to become a three-screen venue.

This much-loved cinema managed to survive as a going concern until 2006.

While its 2,800-seater auditorium was razed in 2013, the main façade of the former Odeon in Renfield Street is still with us.

However, the former cinema is on Scotland’s Buildings at Risk Register, with a long-term use for the surviving elements of the building yet to be found.

Gaumont Cinema, Sauchiehall Street



Gaumont Cinema.
Entertainment, Glasgow, Scotland, 1951, Long line of people queue up outside the cinema in Sauchiehall Street to see a movie (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

A hugely-popular venue in its heyday, as we can see from the long queue in our archive picture, the Gaumont opened in 1910 as the Picture House and was built into the structure of an earlier warehouse.

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Capable of seating 1,600 cinema-goers, the venue was demolished in the 1970s. The façade has been retained as the entrance to the Savoy Centre.

La Scala, Sauchiehall Street



La Scala.
THE WHO GROUP GLASGOW SCOTLAND LA SCALA CINEMA

Staying on Sauchiehall Street, we shuffle along to the La Scala, which, like the Gaumont, was also constructed within an existing warehouse building.
One of the city’s earliest cinemas, it opened in 1912 and could seat around 1,000 people.
Managing to survive until 1984, the cinema later reopened as a Waterstones bookshop.

Riddrie Cinema, Cumbernauld Road



Riddrie Cinema.
Illustration of Riddrie Cinema, Cumbernauld Road, Glasgow, Scotland, Circa 1940.

One of the best surviving examples of art deco in Glasgow, the Riddrie Cinema opened in 1938 and was capable of seating 1,700 paying punters.

Later renamed the Vogue Cinema, it showed its last films in 1968 and has been a bingo venue ever since.

Olympia Cinema, Bridgeton Cross



Olympia Cinema.
Olympian Cinema Bridgeton 2009 olympia theatre for sale proprty glasgow

Boasting an interior by the renowned British entertainment venues designer Frank Matcham, the Olympia was originally a theatre, opening in 1911.

The iconic venue was remodelled as a cinema in 1938 and operated as such for 40 years before becoming a bingo hall.

Considerable fire and water damage was sustained following a blaze at the former Olympia in 2004, however, the building has since been redeveloped and remains one of the architectural focal points of Bridgeton Cross.

Lyceum, Govan Road



Lyceum.
Glasgow cinemas feature Lyceum, Govan, 1939.

Built on the site of the Lyceum Theatre, which had been claimed by fire, this streamlined beauty must’ve looked as if it had landed directly out of the pages of a science fiction novel when it opened in December 1938.
Split in the 1970s to include a bingo hall, the Lyceum closed as a cinema in 1981. It continued as a bingo venue until 2006.

Ambitious plans to renovate the former Lyceum and reopen it as a cinema, concert venue and restaurant were rejected earlier this year by Glasgow City Council.

Western Cinema, Dumbarton Road



Western Cinema.
Glasgow cinemas feature Western Cinema Dumbarton Road 1955

Featuring an eye-catching Moorish-style entrance, the Western on Dumbarton Road opened as the Garrick Cinema in 1916.
The popular venue was redeveloped in the 1920s and its capacity enlarged from 900 to 1,200.
The Western closed in 1966 and was demolished 13 years later.

Imperial Cinema, Govan Road



Imperial Cinema.
Imperial Cinema, 2-6 Govan Road, Cessnock, Glasgow, Scotland, Circa 1950. Sands of Iwo Jima released 1949.

A Cessnock icon, the Imperial Cinema opened in 1921, but was heavily remodelled in the 1950s following a fire.
The venue is now home to the Grand Ole Opry, the city’s best-known haunt for country and western fans.

Vogue Cinema, Knightswood



Vogue Cinema.
Vogue Cinema, 2 Knightscliffe Avenue, Knightswood, Glasgow, G13, Scotland, 16th March 1957.

Sadly demolished in 1960, the incredible-looking Vogue Cinema looked as if it had been imported directly from deepest Andalusia.
It originally opened in 1928 and was called the Boulevard Picture House.

No signs of the architecturally unique venue remain.

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