History

Some 97 years after the first customers took their seats in the grand picture palace, The Hippodrome re-opened its doors to the public in April 2009, recreating the golden age of cinema-going using 21st century technology.

The A-listed building, brainchild of film-maker Louis Dickson and designed by local architect Matthew Steele, was opened on 11 March 1912. It is a rare example of pre-art deco cinema architecture, and Scotland's oldest purpose-built picture house.

The Hippodrome is owned by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, who oversaw the first phase of extensive restoration work as part of the Bo'ness Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). This included reinstatement of the 1926 decorative scheme, installation of new seating and original seating restored. The building is leased to Falkirk Council which fitted out the building installing digital and 35mm projectors and a state-of-the art sound system to offer the best cinema experience.

Despite The Hippodrome's prominent place in the cultural heritage of Bo'ness, only a small amount of information is available in the public domain.

Louis Dickson remains something of a mystery figure, with the most comprehensive material about his early work, including digitised film clips and a biography, available from the Scottish Screen Archive.

The building's architect, Matthew Steele, designed a plethora of buildings in and around Bo'ness. A short biography is available and in 2010, The Royal Incorporation of Architects published Matt Steele, Architect: A Biography by Roger Emmerson and Mary Tilmouth which provides a detailed analysis of his life and work.

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