IN ITS heyday as a skating hub, Glasgow offered fans of the pastime - whether on blades or wheels - an array of venues, indoors and outdoors, to try.

During the winter months, many of the ponds in the city’s public parks were used as natural ice-skating rinks by children and adults alike.

Glasgow Times: Children on Victoria Pond ice-skatingChildren on Victoria Pond ice-skating (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

This photograph of the pond in Victoria Park frozen over in December 1925 shows a crowd of children on the ice gathered around a man showing off his skating skills.He is the only one wearing skates.

(Of course, this is an historic use of the city’s ponds and it should be noted that ice-skating in this way is not permitted nowadays.)

The Kelvin Hall is arguably the most versatile of Glasgow’s public venues having been the location for the circus, a barrage balloon factory during WWII, home improvement shows, athletics competitions and the city’s transport museum.

Unsurprisingly, it also boasted a temporary ice-skating rink which opened in 1939. Its huge, cavernous hall was converted, providing the space for a massive arena.

Of course, there were also purpose-built ice rinks. Crossmyloof Ice Rink is perhaps the best known of these and the architectural plans for this south side icon are among our collections.

Glasgow Times: Crossmyloof elevations, 1906Crossmyloof elevations, 1906 (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

Designed by Fryers & Penman of Largs and submitted to the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court by the Scottish Ice Rink Company on October 25, 1906, it opened the following year and provided the venue for both skating and curling.

For those who preferred an ambient temperature to skate in and wheeled skates to blades, there were the city’s roller-skating rinks.

There were quite a few of these rinks throughout the city, including one in Argyle Street designed in 1909 by the architect Albert Victor Gardner. It was one of his earliest commissions and he would later specialise in cinema design.

Another photo in our collections shows a different roller-skating rink, this time a wooden structure built at 286 Cathcart Road and taken in April 1930. This building later found fame when it appeared on the cover of The Blue Nile album A Walk Across the Rooftops (released in 1984).

Glasgow Times: Wooden roller rink on Cathcart Road, 1930Wooden roller rink on Cathcart Road, 1930 (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

While the survival of these rinks’ historic business records is not particularly good, we do have the 1940s wage books for Fyfe & Fyfe Ltd’s Partick Roller-Skating Rink. This rink was actually part of a larger entertainment complex which included a dance hall: the F&F Palais de Danse on Dumbarton Road, Partick (pictured here in 1940).

The popularity of the ice and roller rinks rose and fell according to public tastes and it was particularly susceptible to Glaswegians’ love of cinema.

The increasing demand for local cinemas in the early part of the twentieth century is reflected in our series of architectural plans which include several rinks being converted to cinemas.

For example, the existing roller rink in Hillfoot Street, Dennistoun, was the subject of a conversion to a cinema in 1911.

It was done for Ralph Pringle, a former travelling musician who established a network of cinemas which included picture houses not only in Glasgow but also in Edinburgh, Nottingham, Birmingham and Paris.

Conversions were less expensive than new builds and the large open spaces of the roller rinks made them very suitable for adaption to cinema use. The premises at The King’s Picture Theatre in Bridgeton, which opened in 1910, even had a sloping floor courtesy of the building’s conversion from its original use as a roller-skating rink – perfect for an uninterrupted view of the screen.

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It was a far cry from the days when skating and cinema-going were combined as leisure pursuits. In the early days of cinema, moving pictures were shown as a novelty or as part of a larger entertainment such as ice skating.

In fact, the earliest instance of moving pictures being shown in Glasgow was in late May 1896 when Arthur Hubner’s Real Ice Skating Palace in Sauchiehall Street showed its Cinematographe in the background while people were skating.

The palace was subject to the same fate as its roller rink counterparts, later becoming the home of both the Regal Cinema and the ABC Film Centre.