SCOTLAND’S oldest purpose-built picture house has been given a four star rating by Visit Scotland.
The Hippodrome, a “historical gem”, has been recognised as a top class venue by the standard bearer for national visitor attractions for the first time.
The picture house, which opened in 1912, is a local treasure and has maintained its old-fashioned decor whilst upgrading to state of the art projectors and sound systems to offer a great cinema experience.
The A-listed building was the brainchild of local film-maker Louis Dickson and was designed by renowned Scottish architect Matthew Steele.
VisitScotland’s four star rating indicates “an excellent standard” when the Hippodrome is measured against national standards including safety, cleanliness, comfort and customer care.
The VisitScotland report on the Bo’ness venue, which shows classic films, independent movies and big blockbusters, highlighted the friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Some of the first films shown were by Louis Dickson himself - depicting local Bo’ness events such as the local Miner’s Day Gala.
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The cinema stopped showing films in 1975 before operating as a bingo hall until 1980 where it shut down.
It re-opened after being awarded a £2 million grant to renovate the facility.
Callendar House maintained its five star rating, meaning it meets the criteria to “an exceptional standard.”
It dates back to the 14th century and offers several exhibitions and a tearoom that sees thousands of visitors every year.
Cllr Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said: “The Hippodrome is a wonderful building and a great place to see movies.
“This four-star award from VisitScotland is most welcome.
“Through offering local filmmakers a chance to show their work, screening silent films with live musical accompaniment and specially curated archived film shows, the Hippodrome is an experience that can’t be matched by other cinemas.”
Unique “cuppa screenings” are held every Monday and these involve customers getting a piece of cake and a tea or coffee included in their ticket price.
VisitScotland highlighted the cakes and the “cuppa” idea as tremendous value for money.
Ian Scott, Chairman of Falkirk Community Trust, which manages both venues, said: “At the Hippodrome we want people’s experience to be more than just watching a film.
“On top of “cuppa screenings”, we offer “Jeely Jar Specials” every so often where people can get two tickets for the price of one if they bring an empty jar with a lid, as was a tradition amongst children in the early days of cinema.
“These jars are sent to Callendar House for jam making in the Georgian Kitchen and this is a nice link between two of our area’s star attractions.”
The Hippodrome takes it place beside Callendar House and the four-star rated Kinneil House - also in Bo’ness - as local venues recognised by VisitScotland.
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