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The Invergordon Archive

The Playhouse, Invergordon
The Invergordon Archive
The Playhouse, Invergordon

A montage of pictures of the interior and a picture of the projector taken around 1978.
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Picture added on 13 June 2013 at 10:43
Wonderful set of pics William, brings back loads of memories. Alistair AKA Ali-Baba ran a tight ship but he was always fair. I can remember being up in the projector room with Sandy Stewart and Billy Cowan, there was 2 projectors and I remember the film breaking which always brought boos from the audience.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 June 2013
Hello Harry, yes there were 2 projectors, the other one is difficult to see as it's right behind the one in the foreground, I have fond memories of changing reels every 15 or 20 minutes to keep the film running continuous. I knew Sandy Stewart well although not when he was in Invergordon, he came from Wick my hometown as well. He moved around the old CAC circuit quite a bit and retired in Inverness after managing the Palace bingo for many years. Other projectionists I knew were Nigel Benson, Nigel Ross and Anthony Mitchell whom I took over from in 1976.
Added by William Smart on 15 June 2013
Hi Harry and William. What memories this picture brings. I was the ice cream girl for a time and was often in the projector room chatting to the projectionist and looking at everyone in the balcony. Kathleen McLeod (Sonny's sister) also trained as a projectionist. El Dorado ice cream was the best !!!!!!
Added by Rosalie Graham (Samaroo) on 18 June 2013
Hi Rosalie, yes you had a perfect view from the projection room and above the audience, it was small but very compact with all the switches, dimmers etc close to hand.
Added by William Smart on 18 June 2013
Hi Rosalie, do you remember the terrific sound system the old picture house used to have? Montovanni etc.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 21 June 2013
Harry and William, yes indeed, the sound system was terrific and William, the projection room was small and by the end of the evening ....very hot !!
Added by Rosalie Graham (Samaroo) on 22 June 2013
Yes I always admired the sound in the Playhouse, for just one centre speaker behind the screen it was terrific, no surrounds or sub woofers in those days. Rosalie you will probably remember when you entered the projection room, to your extreme right there was a low narrow passage which led to a window above the lane at the side of the building. This was also the escape route for the projectionist if there was an emergency. There was a bar with a rope tied to it which would take you down to ground level. Really glad I never had to use it. There was also a window in the area next to the steps leading to the projection room (in front of the sink) and it was a better means of escape with a ladder fixed to the wall outside. I used to keep both these windows open during the show in the summer months. I think the fixed ladder is still there on the wall in the lane.
Added by William Smart on 22 June 2013
Hi William, wasn't there some kind of rooms at the back of the stage too? I seem to remember burning old film there with Sandy. Sandy boarded at our house.
I remember the film being highly flammable.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 22 June 2013
Hi Harry, yes there were 2 dressing rooms through the wall from the backstage area; there was quite a bit of space below the stage as well and a staircase leading up to the dressing rooms. There was a door from one of the dressing rooms taking you out to the back of the building and a few steps down to ground level. In my time there was an old oil drum for burning the cinema rubbish in out there so it's possible Sandy burnt all the scrap film in it as well. It would have been highly flammable as likely would have been nitrate film then rather than safety. Below the dressing rooms was the boiler house with a few steps leading down from ground level.
Added by William Smart on 22 June 2013
Thanks William, funny how the mention of one item brings it all back to memory. In this case it is the oil drum. I remember also that Alistair was always present when the old film was being burnt, almost as if he had to witness it being destroyed. Anything to that?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 22 June 2013
I used to empty the film waste tin that we had in the projection box about once a week, it was usually in the morning as the other rubbish was being burnt in the drum but don't remember Alastair in attendance. Do you remember a chap called Bob Souter from Buckie working there, he was in Invergordon for a year either just before or after Sandy's time there. He went back to Buckie cinema then and in the '70s moved to Inverness when he was made the northern area controller with CAC. I remember him telling me he worked with Billy Cowan and lodged in either no. 1 or no.3 Outram Street.
Added by William Smart on 23 June 2013
Yes I remember Bob Souter, he also stayed with us at 3 Outram Street.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 June 2013
Hi Harry, I remember him saying that he used to take a dog out walking sometimes, must have been yours, small world indeed. Think he stays in the Culloden area now. Think Sandy went to the Picture House in Tain after Invergordon.
Added by William Smart on 23 June 2013
Small world indeed. Yes him and I used to take our dog out after the rabbits. Yes Sandy went to Tain and I used to run into him at the dances there. I remember his words when his National Service came up, "I wish I could die now and cheat (chate) the army of a good man". He ended up going to Egypt.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 June 2013
Hi Harry, sounds just like Sandy indeed, the last time I spoke to him on the phone was about 5 years ago and he was talking fondly about his time in Tain. I was getting some info from him about the cinema there as there was talk of it re-opening. There was a committee taking to do with it and they had so much funding at that time, managed to get the building watertight and pigeontight but haven't heard anything else since a while now. Be good to have a cinema in Ross-shire again and easy to get to from Sutherland with the Dornoch bridge, ah well wait and see I suppose.
Added by William Smart on 23 June 2013
I remember the Xmas treat for the local children. We saw s film like Greyfriars Bobby and then Provost Mackay and later Canon Mchardy in their role as Santa appeared from under the stage with our bags containing an apple, orange & sixpence...Also the school prizegiving was held there too.
Added by Liz Taylor nee Askew on 29 June 2013
I have fond memories when my Dad, Anthony, showed pictures, I used to sit on the stool in the projection room and watched through the wee glass window.
The boiler flooding is one thing Dad remembers and the rigging for shows.
Added by Valerie Mitchell on 24 October 2013
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