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Aberdeen Cinemas: Casino
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Casino

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Casino
Historic Photographs
Aberdeen Cinemas: Casino
An Aberdeen Journals Archive photograph of the Casino cinema in around 1963.

The Casino cinema was opened on Wales Street on 7th February 1916 by John Peter Kilgour, a dealer in various waste materials. It had close competition with Bert Gate's Star Picture Palace just around the corner on Park Street. Michael Thomson in The Silver Screen in the Silver City describes the Casino as the second of Aberdeen's purpose-built picture halls. It and the "Starrie" served the population of the city's east end for many years.

The Casino was built on the site of Kilgour's factory yards. The architects for the project were George Sutherland and Clement George. The building's "Spanish villa" design is described by Thomson as unique for Aberdeen and highly unusual throughout Scotland. One distinctive feature was the low square tower at the Park Street side of the building that was topped by a red-tiled concave pyramidal roof. Thomson writes that features of the building combined to "bring a welcome splash of colour and gaiety to an otherwise drab corner of the city."

Following the death of John Peter Kilgour in 1920, the running of the Casino and his waste business was taken over by his son, Ormande L. Kilgour.

In the silent era the venue was a stronghold of cine-variety, showing all manner of performances in-between film screenings. In February 1936 the cinema celebrated its 20th birthday and a cake was cut by Kilgour and one the Casino's oldest patrons, a Mrs Stewart.

In November 1939 Bert Gates and Aberdeen Picture Palaces bought a controlling interest share in the Casino. The Beach Boulevard, which opened on 25th May 1959, ran directly outside the cinema and gave the Casino a prominent location. In March of that year the cinema was given a thorough renovation.

Despite its new prominent location and recent renovation, the Casino closed down as a cinema on Saturday 3rd October 1959. A spokesperson for the Donald Cinemas Group stated in the Evening Express at the time that the closure was due to the housing in the area being pulled down and people moving to new estates. Michael Thomson suggests that the proximity of the relatively new first-run Regal in Shiprow might also have drawn away the hoped-for holiday crowds from the Casino.

In 1961 the empty Casino was sold to local bookmakers James Rennie and Arthur Forbes to be used as a bingo hall. This was at the height of bingo's popularity and the Casino proved too small. The bingo operation was moved to the Kingsway Cinema which had showed its final film, Warlord of Crete on 3rd February 1962.

The area around the Casino was earmarked for redevelopment by Aberdeen Town Council. The cinema building was compulsorily purchased and, after spending some time as a store, was demolished at the same time as the Star in 1971. The site is now occupied by a residential development.

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

Image © Aberdeen Journals Ltd.
Wales Street
2. Copyright known - held by third party
Casino xxxx-00-00 (C)Unknown
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