The Palace Cinema

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Pictured right - the Palace Cinema, probably in the 1960s.

The history of the Palace Cinema (full name, the Palace Cinema Picture Palace, and known locally as the Picture House) is told in Norman Mackie's article. It opened in 1939, and served the town well until around the early 1970s. In its final period as a cinema, it attempted to compete with the influence of television by showing 'Midnight Movies', an initiative which had some success in attracting the romantically inclined young folk in the town. But eventually television won the battle, and the building then served as an amusement arcade for a number of years. A disastrous fire in 1985 destroyed everything but the external walls and the fašade.

The photographs below show:

  • Left - the Palace Cinema in the 1970s as an amusement arcade and with its canopy removed.
  • Right - in 2002, after the shop units were vacated.

Thje Palace Cinema c1960s

Palace Cinema c1970  Palace Cinema (derelict)

After the fire, the building had the misfortune to fall into the hands of a firm of developers who ignored pleas from the local authority to, at the very least, make the fašade presentable, and who demonstrated what can at best be described as an irresponsible attitude to local environmental concerns. The paint peeled, the rats rampaged, and the sycamores sprouted. The loungeEventually the occupiers of the two shop units decided they had had enough and the entire building was left to the mercy of the elements.

Although the cinema was not a listed building, Fife Council hoped that the fašade could be saved as the frontage for a new building on the site. However, by early 2008, the structural steelwork within the fašade had deteriorated to such an extent that a Dangerous Building Notice had to be served on the owner. The entire building was demolished in May 2008. At the time of writing (June 2008), the site is awaiting redevelopment.

The Scottish Cinemas and Theatres website has a remarkable collection of 65 photographs from the interior of the Palace Cinema as it was after the fire and prior to demolition. Remember to click on the thumbnails for larger versions of the photos.

The old photo on the right shows Miss Mackie, Director and Manageress of the Palace Cinema, pictured in its luxurious lounge. We are very grateful to Norman Mackie for his permission to reproduce the photo.

The prancing reindeer on the panel behind Miss Mackie was a motif repeated elsewhere in the cinema's decor, notably in the stained glass windows in the fašade. Immediately prior to the demolition of the building, Douglas Speirs, Fife Council's archaeologist, was able to rescue the one surviving window, as the following photos show. The window is now in the ownership of Burntisland Heritage Trust, and we would be delighted to hear from anyone who might be able to offer an appropriate new home for it. Please contact us.

Palace Cinema window  Palace Cinema window rescue

Left - the window from the inside, just before it was removed.
Right - Douglas Speirs (with red hat) and colleague on the cherry-picker with one of the four sections of the window.

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