The Picture House - Historical Context
After posting a short message in the Picture House section of the Tayport website, I noticed that there was a request for any information concerning the history of this cinema. I can provide a few details.
In 1928 the Palladium Cinema, Alexander Street, Dundee, was purchased by J.B. Milne, a local man, who had worked as both a cleaner and musician in this cinema. He had the foresight to install sound film equipment, the Palladium became the first Dundee cinema to show "talking pictures" and a cinema empire was born.
J.B. Milne's next aquisition was The Picture House, Tayport. I believe this was in the very early 1930s though don't know the exact date.
Throughout the next four decades J.B. Milne continued to aquire cinemas all over Scotland. He also built cinemas in Blairgowrie, Macduff and Peterhead. In 1956 he constructed the Capitol, Seagate, Dundee, which in 1958 he sold, under pressure, to Britain's (then) biggest cinema circuit, Associated Brtitish Cinemas. The Capitol became the ABC, Dundee, until it's closure a few years ago, brought about by the advent of the multiplex era.
From 1956 onwards there was a huge and continuing decline in British cinema going. Hardest hit were cinemas in smaller communities. In common with cinema owners all over the UK, J.B. Milne was compelled to switch some halls to the new and highly profitable craze of bingo. To his great credit, he only completely closed three cinemas, Auchterarder, East Weymss and Buckhaven.
Sadly, in the 1960s, The Picture House, Tayport, a victim of declining admissions, had become wholly unprofitable. However, during the same period, the Palladium, Dundee (by now renamed the Rex), had been compulsorily purchased and demolished to allow redevelopment of the area in which it was located. The Tayport Picture House was now the earliest surviving cinema in the J.B. Milne circuit.
Despite admissions which were often in single figures and seldom more than double figures, J.B. Milne steadfastly refused to close The Picture House. This can only have been due to sentiment. Economically there were no grounds to justify it's continuation. Without doubt, any other operator would have closed this cinema, probably around 1960/61.
J.B. Milne died in September 1968 aged sixty six. Within days the management of J.B. Milne Theatres Ltd instructed that the Picture House, Tayport be closed.
The Picture House, Tayport had 453 seats, was equipped with Kalee Model No 8 front shutter projectors, the sound equipment was British Thomson Houston (BTH). The admission prices at closure were 1/6d (7.5p) to 3/6d (17.5p). The cinema had a splendid vertical neon sign.
Photos of both the exterior and interior of the cinema can be viewed on the excellent website scottishcinemas.org. click on Scotland A-Z then select Tayport.
J.B. Milne Theatres Ltd was the biggest privately owned cinema chain in Great Britain. It comprised the following cinemas at the time of J.B.Milne's death:
Arbroath Palace: Arbroath Picture House: Banff Picture House: Blairgowrie Regal: Broughty Ferry Regal: Buckhaven Globe: Cowdenbeath Picture House: Cupar La Scala: Dundee Broadway: Dundee Plaza: Dundee Ritz: Dundee Royalty: Dundee State: Dundee Victoria: Edinburgh Astoria: Edinburgh Tivoli: Edinburgh Tudor: Galashiels Capitol: Kinross County: Leven Troxy: Leven Regent: Lerwick North Star: Lochgelly Opera House: Macduff Regal: Methil Palace: Methil Imperial: Montrose Kings: Montrose Playhouse: Peterhead Regal: Peterhead Playhouse: Stornoway Playhouse: Tayport Picture House.
I visited the Picture House shortly after it's closure. It was a delightful little cinema. Though the entrance foyer was tiny, the auditorium was very pleasing, oozing an atmosphere sadly not found in the rather sterile, if more comfortable, auditoria of the modern multiplex. Certainly it was rather shabby and rundown, all the J.B. Milne cinemas were. However, it was very clean, with the wonderful pervading aroma of the perfumed disinfectant used in cinemas of that period.
I do hope some of this information may be of interest.
|Visitor Comments: |
|Posted by DONALD|
on November 18 2008 5:52 PM
|If jbm supposedly sold his capitol cinema to the abc cine ma circuit under pressure how come other cineams jbm owned were abc cinemas namely plaza hilltown, palace arbroath,capitol galashiels montrose kings the plaza montrose kings and capitol galashiels were all obtained at the same time as abc obtained the capitol dundee so dont see where pressurisation comes into it also th abc cghauin came out of scottish ci nema variety theatres ltd owned by thomas ormiston and one of the cinemas he owned was the la scala cupar which jbm bought either before ww2 or during ww2 also the signage fromn the capitol dundee was transferred to the capitol galashiels and jbm also bought the other cinema in galashiels at around the same time|
|Posted by alex braid|
on November 28 2008 9:16 PM
|Part of the deal in which J.B. Milne relinquished the Capitol, Dundee, was the disposal of four poorly performing Scottish cinemas by ABC to JBM. These were the Plaza Dundee, King's Montrose, Savoy Edinburgh and Playhouse Galashiels. Knowing that ABC would rebrand the Capitol Dundee, he removed the massive neon sign from the cinema, transported it to Galashiels, where the Playhouse then became the Capitol. The Palace Arbroath was sold to JBM by ABC in 1963 during a decade when ABC closed or sold a third of it's cinemas. Scottish Cinema and Variety Theatres was founded (1912)and controlled by John Maxwell, a Glasgow solictor. In 1928 Maxwell merged three cinema circuits, Savoy Cinemas, Favourite Cinemas and Scottish Cinema and Variety Theatres into one new company, Associated British Cinemas (ABC). SCVT, however, was operated by ABC as an autonomous company until 1947. At no time did this company have any interest in La Scala, Cupar.|
|Posted by Allan Goodall|
on December 15 2008 1:21 AM
|I worked for JBM and it's new owners Kingsway Entertainments. I remember Jimmy Brown who was a film booker and trustee saying that JBM's last words were close "Tayport". In the early 1980's i had access to the Picturehouse and the auditorium was full of redundant projectors,amps , speakers etc. I assume equipment taken from cinemas that either closed or converted to bingo were stored there.|
|Posted by projector|
on January 10 2009 3:17 PM
|when jbm bought his first cinema was it a motorhire business (which it says in the newspaper report about his death) that he sold or was it a motor cycle repair business or as i have recently found out he went in partnership with his sister lizzie in order to buy it and he paid back when the cinema was a sucess, have been trying to find out when he bought the brittania cinema i know it was the 1930s but was it before or after the vic?|
|Posted by projector|
on January 10 2009 3:12 PM
|the la scala was owned by thomas ormiston who was connected with scvt so therefore the las scala was connected with the abc chain|
|Posted by donald|
on January 12 2009 4:10 PM
|i know its not related to tayport cinema but can anyone tell me if there are any photos of the interior of the plaza hilltown apart from the two photos of the screen on the dusashenka website(access via surviving cinemas click on dundee click on capitol click on dusashenka) looking for photo which shows auditorium from screen end, from rear of stalls or balcony towards screen and projection room also did jbm ever have his photo in the courier or any paper as have never come across a photo of him in the paper also did he ever own a rolls royce in 1949? which was prior to the one he bought in 1953 and put the jbm 957 number on email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help|
|Posted by DONALD|
on January 24 2012 8:29 AM
|after yet more research on the internet i have managed to establish jbm aquired the tayport cinema between 1932 and 1940 as he is listed as owning this cinema in the kinematograph year book for 1941, as tayport isnt listed in the 1931 edition under scottish cinemas so it was possibly closed in 1931 perhaps which is why it isnt listed|
|Posted by donald|
on January 27 2012 5:34 AM
|further to my previous post i have now found out that jbm aquired the tayport cinema in 1932 and has charles milne listed as the proprieter(brother of jbm) and that films were booked at the new palladium cinema dundee i also found a reference to milnes month of birth which was september as he was 66 when he died in 1968 he must have been born before the 24th september which is the date of his death still havent established yet who originally opened the picture house in 1911 only reference i have is the name hornsey and have checked the dictionary of scottish architects but there is nothing listed for the cinema in tayport|
|Posted by Mkgirl|
on February 19 2012 4:00 PM
|Hi I'm looking into my ancestory and my mother was born in monifieth , my great grandfather often spoke of his grandfathers picture house which im guessing would have been around in the 1920s their family name was brown and I'm trying to find out a little more about it can anyone help by supplying me with a name of possible cinema|
|Posted by donald|
on June 1 2012 12:23 PM
|gavin you wouldnt happen to have any photos of the regal peterhead or any of the other cinemas mentioned am also trying to find out more about a bomb with a delay fuse which landed in the street outside the cinema in february 1942 and then bounced up the steps and landed in the foyer of the cinema there is nothing in the banff newspaper or the dundee courier about this also do you remember jbms rolls royce the jbm 957 one? and jbs dog called rex apparently he renamed the palladium cinema in alexander street after his dog if you google ancestors of j b milne there is a website written by someone called pitt whose grandfather joe fisher was related to jbm as he had married a milne who i think was a cousin of jbm|
|Posted by bill ramsay|
on June 8 2013 2:40 AM
|hello my father was Jimmy Ramsay. He was the manager of the Capitol cinema in Galashiels. he started with JB Milne after the war in his hometown of Blairgowrie, although to be strictly accurate, the cinema was in Rattray, just over the bridge. He was also at Tayport, although i not sure when. He met my mum when he was at Lochgelly. We all moved to Gala in about 1961, it was the Capitol by then. The house was attached to the cinema, a dinky two bedroom place with no bathroom, only a toilet!
The chief projectionist at the time was Alex Craig. I knew that building inside out.
when i was about 12, i got a job from dad and alex. i had to light the gasses, the emergency lights, alex paid me 2/- dad, 1/-. easy to see who was happy to be shot of that job.
when i was 15 and the place had been converted into the kingsway, i got a part time job as a projectionist. the projectors were two old peerless carbon arcs, each running at about 100v and 100a. the power came from a three phase mercury rectifier. all the amplfication was by RCA.