THE Astoria, the Westway, the Lyric, the Vogue…

The names trip off the tongue and will be familiar to readers who loved Glasgow’s old picture houses.

But have you heard of Arthur Hubner’s Real Ice Skating Palace?

Barbara Neilson, archivist with Glasgow City Archives, explains: “This was where the first moving pictures were shown in Glasgow, back in May 1896.

“Back then, moving pictures were shown as a novelty or as part of a larger entertainment, like the circus. The Real Ice Skating Palace on Sauchiehall Street showed its Cinematographe – a series of seven short films accompanied by an orchestra - in the background while people were skating.”

Glasgow Times:

She adds: “The earliest permanent cinema in Glasgow was Pringle’s Picture Palace, based in the former Queen’s Theatre in Calton. It was relaunched as a cinema in November 1907.”

By the 1930s, there were around 130 cinemas here, more per head of population than any other city in the world outside America. Glasgow became known far and wide as Cinema City.

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Glaswegians visited them in their droves to watch news, cartoons and the latest film releases, from Hollywood hits to exciting Westerns. Some picture houses were grand and glamorous, others quickly acquired reputations for being fleapits.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow City Archives has a fantastic collection of records relating to cinemas, past and present.

While libraries remain closed, Barbara and her colleagues, Michael Gallagher, Lynsey Green, senior archivist Irene O’Brien and Nerys Tunnicliffe, are running Ask the Archivist, which gives people the chance to ask questions about the city collections. More details are available on the Glasgow City Archives Facebook page.

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The biggest cinema recorded in Glasgow, says Barbara, was Green’s Playhouse on Renfield Street.

“This was said to be the largest in Europe,” she adds. “Completed in 1927, it had 4368 seats and a ballroom. George Green also owned Green’s Picturedrome on Wellshot Road and the New Bedford Cinema in the Gorbals.”

Glasgow Times:

The 1950s was the final full decade of the double feature, in which adults could see two films in the same visit - the headliner A film and the less well-known B film.

Barbara adds: “Kids at Saturday morning Cinema Club would sing the club song before settling down to watch cartoons - ‘we come along on Saturday morning, greeting everybody with a smile...’”

“And a standout experience for many children was in June 1953 when their school took them on a trip to the local cinema to watch the film of the Queen’s coronation.”

Glasgow Times:

In 1945, after the end of World War II, attendance at cinemas began to decline and the 1960s and 1970s saw many cinema closures.

“Sometimes the buildings were demolished but often they were converted for another use – many, like the Astoria on Possil Road, the Lyceum in Govan and the Ascot in Anniesland, became bingo halls,” says Barbara.

What was your favourite Glasgow cinema? Did you work in one of the old picture houses? Share your memories and photos – we would love to hear from you.