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Aberdeen Cinemas: Electric / Capitol
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Electric / Capitol

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Electric / Capitol
Historic Photographs
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Electric / Capitol
An Aberdeen Journals Archive photograph of the Capitol cinema at 431 Union Street in February 1980. At this time the Capitol was in more regular use as a concert venue than as a cinema. This image shows large numbers of people queuing to get tickets for a performance by the band Genesis.

The Capitol was built as a cinema back in 1933. A few days before its opening, it was advertised in local papers as "Aberdeen's wonder cinema". Opened to large crowds on Saturday 4th February 1933, the Capitol was then the largest venue of its kind in the north of Scotland and had a stage that could be adapted for both film and variety entertainment.

The Capitol was built by Aberdeen Picture Palaces Ltd. on the site of an earlier upmarket cinema called the Electric Theatre that dated from 1910. When the Capitol opened, it was regarded as the most up-to-date theatre in the country due to its complex lightning system, organ music and other modern features, some of them being introduced for the first time in Scotland.

The venue could accommodate more than 2,000 people. The building's plans were prepared by Aberdeen architects Alexander Marshall MacKenzie and Clement George. Local newspapers stressed the local ownership of the cinema and the local craftsmanship that went into its construction.

Aberdeen City Libraries hold a souvenir brochure of the cinema's opening. One interesting feature of the brochure is the inclusion of specially created adverts for all the companies involved in the construction and furnishing of the new cinema. Some of the adverts provide rich information on the history of the companies and give an insight into how the companies saw themselves. The brochure details the companies behind every aspect of the buildings from the cinema seating and terrazzo work to the innovative lighting.

On the opening day, Mrs A. D. Hay, wife of the chairman of the Aberdeen Picture Palaces, unlocked the main entrance door with a gold key. This key is still held by the Hay family today. The cinema's first, busy evening featured a variety of entertainment. In addition to the showing of films, there was a ballet performance by the Henrietta Fuller Dancers and Mr Edward O' Henry played the theatre's new top of the line Compton organ.

During the opening ceremony, Bert Gates, another director of Aberdeen Picture Palaces, said: "It was a long lane that had no turning. They had built the Capitol not for to-day, but for the generations of Aberdeen people to come. The company had dedicated the Capitol to the people of Aberdeen, their children, and their children's children in the hope that in generations to come they might appreciate what had been given them."

[Information primarily sourced from Silver Screen in the Silver City (1988) by Michael Thomson]

Image © Aberdeen Journals Ltd.
Union Street
Cinemas
2. Copyright known - held by third party
Capitol 1980-02-01 (C)AJL
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