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Aberdeen Cinemas: Picture House / Gaumont
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Picture House / Gaumont

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Picture House / Gaumont
Historic Photographs
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Picture House / Gaumont
Silver Screen in the Silver City (1988) by Michael Thomson explains that by 1950 the Picture House was owned by the Rank Organisation. The British entertainment conglomerate had acquired various cinema exhibition companies: British-Gaumont, Odeon, and the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (successor company to Associated Provincial Picture Houses). As part of business rationalisation, on 22nd March 1950 the Picture House was rebranded as The Gaumont.

Thomson's Silver Screen indicates that the Gaumont's vertical neon sign dates from the time of the rebranding. In 1956 the design of the cinema was further updated. This saw the introduction of the illuminated canopy and use of the beech design shown here in the redeveloped interior and exterior, replacing the pillars of the Picture House era. A new marble backed fireplace replaced the old one that had been a well-known feature of the cinema since its opening in 1914. The projection equipment and seating were also modernised. This night-time image from the Aberdeen Journals Archive accompanied an article about the Gaumont's new look in the Evening Express of 19th April 1956.

The image shows promotion for a number of films on the cinema's updated exterior: The Rose Tattoo with Burt Lancaster and Anna Magnani, Flight from Vienna and Aberdeen Photographic Service's presentation of A Photographic Review of the Royal Tour of Nigeria.

The manager at the time of the Gaumont's redesign was Mr. R. E. Miller. He had managed the cinema since January 1948. In early 1951 Miller converted the upstairs restaurant area, which had laid empty since 1928, into a gallery space. Known as the Gaumont Gallery, it was ideal for photographic exhibitions and was in frequent use well into the 1960s.

Thomson states that during this period Mary Garden, the retired opera singer who returned to Aberdeen in 1939, was something of a regular at the Gaumont. This well-known and much-loved figure would be escorted to her seat by the cinema's commissionaire George Repper, who was also a popular and familiar figure. Repper worked at the Gaumont from 1940 to 1964 and his job was to shepherd queues, attend to patrons and ensure all progressed smoothly.

[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
Gaumont 1956-04-01 (C)AJL
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