A New Life for Prestwick’s Historic Cinema

A Landmark of Scottish Culture

The Prestwick Picture House, a cinema that has been a part of the town’s history and culture for over a century, is set to be restored and reopened after receiving a grant of £1.2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The cinema, which was built in 1913 and is one of the oldest surviving cinemas in Scotland, has been closed since 2019 due to structural issues and lack of funds. The restoration project, led by the Prestwick Picture House Trust, aims to preserve the cinema’s unique features and heritage, while also making it a modern and accessible venue for the community.

The cinema has a rich and varied history, having hosted many famous stars and events over the years. It was the first cinema in Scotland to show sound films in 1929, and it also hosted the world premiere of the film Whisky Galore in 1949, which was attended by the cast and crew, including the legendary comedian Sir Compton Mackenzie. The cinema also served as a shelter during the Second World War, and as a venue for live music and theatre performances in the later decades. The cinema has a distinctive Art Deco style, with a curved façade, a domed roof, and a neon sign. It also boasts a rare Compton organ, which was used to accompany silent films and is one of only two of its kind in Scotland.

A Vision for the Future

The restoration project, which is expected to take two years to complete, will involve repairing and restoring the cinema’s exterior and interior, as well as installing new equipment and facilities. The project will also create a new café, a learning space, and a community hub, where various activities and events will be held. The project aims to make the cinema more sustainable and inclusive, by reducing its carbon footprint, improving its accessibility, and engaging with diverse audiences and groups. The project will also create new jobs and volunteering opportunities, and boost the local economy and tourism.

A New Life for Prestwick’s Historic Cinema

The project has received widespread support and praise from the public, the local authorities, and the heritage sector. The Prestwick Picture House Trust, which was formed in 2019 by a group of local residents and cinema enthusiasts, has been working tirelessly to save the cinema and secure the funding. The trust has also been raising awareness and funds through various campaigns and initiatives, such as selling merchandise, hosting online events, and launching a crowdfunding campaign. The trust has also been collaborating with other organisations and partners, such as the Cinema Theatre Association, the British Film Institute, and the University of Glasgow, to ensure the project’s success and quality.

A Celebration of Cinema and Community

The Prestwick Picture House Trust hopes that the restoration project will not only revive the cinema, but also celebrate its legacy and contribution to the town and the country. The trust plans to showcase the cinema’s history and heritage through exhibitions, tours, and educational programmes, as well as to screen a diverse and curated range of films, from classics and cult favourites, to new releases and local productions. The trust also hopes to create a vibrant and welcoming space for the community, where people can enjoy, learn, and socialise, and where creativity and culture can flourish.

The Prestwick Picture House is more than just a cinema, it is a landmark of Scottish culture and a symbol of Prestwick’s identity and pride. The restoration project will ensure that the cinema will continue to entertain and inspire generations to come, and that its story will not be forgotten.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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