History of the Hippodrome
The Bo'ness Hippodrome
Scotland's first cinema opens its doors once again.
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
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
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. The book is available for sale at the Hippodrome and Callendar
House priced £9.99.