South Scotland

Closing titles roll for Dumfries cinema

Odeon cinema
Image caption The cinema - which opened in the early 1930s - will close for good this month

A cinema which has served a south of Scotland town for almost 90 years is to close by the end of the month.

The facility on Shakespeare Street in Dumfries first opened to the public in the early 1930s.

However, operators Odeon confirmed last month that due to "ongoing issues" with the building it had decided to shut on 28 June.

It leaves the town, with a population of about 40,000, without a large-scale cinema for the first time in decades.

There was great excitement in Dumfries when plans first surfaced for the facility back in 1930.

"The new building is designed on modern architectural lines and will have a seating capacity of 1,600," said a newspaper report of the time.

"In the area of the building, provision will be made for seating 1,200 persons in individual tip-up chairs; while the remaining 400 will be similarly accommodated in an extensive balcony."

Analysis: Giancarlo Rinaldi, BBC news website south of Scotland reporter

Image copyright Getty Images

It is the place I can first remember crying.

When ET, the extra-terrestrial, had to finally go home, the 12-year-old me with his grandfather could not contain himself.

Everyone who grew up in Dumfries will have their own memories of the Regal, ABC or Odeon - the name you use is a good indicator of your generation.

It is always a cause for nostalgia when such sites close down, but also a time to reflect on the old "use it or lose it" adage.

The tumbling cost of huge home televisions, the advance of online streaming services and being tied to a single screen at the cinema have all probably played their part.

Nonetheless, many will feel a pang of regret when those two words appear on its screen for the final time this week - The End.

According to Brian Horsey's history of cinema in the town, the Regal - as it was called at the time - opened its doors in April 1931.

"Now Dumfries had a 'super cinema'," he wrote, "and the booking arrangements for films were by a larger company than ever.

"Thus the best of all products were now coming to Dumfries earlier than before."

Image caption The company said it had faced some "ongoing issues" with the building

At the time it faced competition for business from both the Electric Theatre and Lyceum, such was the demand for moving pictures.

It would go through a number of incarnations from Regal to ABC to Cannon to Odeon and also downsize over the years.

In the 1970s it was split into a cinema and bingo hall with the viewing capacity significantly reduced.

Image caption Attempts have been made to modernise the premises over the years

More recently, attempts were made to modernise the facility with a section of more comfortable seating installed.

However, it was not enough to avert the closure which was announced by Odeon last month and the date confirmed again this week.

"We've faced some ongoing issues with the building, and as such we've taken the decision to close the cinema this month," a brief statement said.

Image caption The cinema has had a number of names down the years

Odeon said it had consulted with staff affected and was working with them to "realise their ambitions for future employment" with the firm.

"We're grateful for all our team members' hard work and support looking after our guests over the years and wish them all the best for the future," it added.

The closure on Thursday will leave Dumfries without a large-scale cinema although the 69-seat Robert Burns Centre remains in the town.

The nearest sizeable facility will now be more than 30 miles away in Carlisle with another smaller one located in Annan.

Would you like to share your memories or pictures of cinema in Dumfries over the years? If so, send them to

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