Theatre Images

Theatres in Ayrshire ~1800 - 2013

1.  Opera House

2.  John Finnie Strett

3.  Theatre


The Opera House, Kilmarnock

1.  The New Theatre in John Finnie Street ca. 1875.

Date: ca.1875
Photographer: Unknown (East AYrshire Council Collections)

2.   The New Theatre in John Finnie Street ca. 1935.

Date ca. 1935
Photographer: Unknown

3. Strand Street, looking north from Danny Paton's Barber Shop towards the Opera House south elevation.   (Note.  Danny Paton's Barber Shop is also recorded as a building at risk on the Historic Scotland database.)

Date:  ca. 1935
Photographer: Unknown

The Theatre and John Finnie Street

A recent assessment of the Kilmarnock Town Centre Conservation Area noted, with respect to the Opera House, the remaining B-listed façade of Ingram’s 1874 Opera House is of note mainly because of the negative impact the unused site now has on this part of the street however it is a unique local example of its style as well as typology.

Since that note was written work on the consruction of a new buiklding on the site has commenced and the badly decayed facade will be restored as part of the project. Material will be added to these notes when the building is completed and occupied by East Ayrshire Council.

The second photograph of this set shows shop fronts in the facade arising from the change of use.   At this time, the main auditorium area was in use as saleroom.


The new Operetta House - Application for Licence

A Justice of Peace Court of the Kilmarnock District was held yesterday to consider an application from Mr WIlliam Glover, of the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, for licence for the new Operetta House or Theatre in John Finnie Street, Kilmarnock. Provost Sturrock presided. Mr Hugh Wilson moved that the licence should be granted. Mr Glover's name was a sufficient guarantee to this court and to the community at large that the Operetta House, if licencee was granted, would at all times be respectively conducted. Mr james Wilson seconded the motion.

Treasurer Raeburn said that he was very sorry that he should have rise for the purpose of moving an amendment. He was not unfriendly to places of amusement; but this theatre would be conducted, he supposed, very much in the same way as others, and it was a well-known fact that they had been made to suit the popular taste, and they knew that the popular taste would simply be met by coming down to it and not by elevating the popular taste to some ideal platform. A good deal had been said about starting amusements as a counter attraction to the public-house, but here they had the two combined - a theatre on one side and a public house on another. In the interests of the community, especially of young men, he thought they ought to be very careful what they did. On these grounds he begged to move the refusal of the application. Bailie Douglas seconded the amendment. On a vote being taken, the licence was granted by a large majority, only Baliie Cuthbertson voting for the amendment in addition to its proposer and seconder.

With regard to the rule fixing the minimum price for admission at 6d, Mr Glover desired to have it in his power to make the lowest price 3d or 4d. Bailie Douglas moved that 6d should be the lowest price , which was seconded by baillie Simpson. Mr Hugh Wilson moved that 3d be the minimum price, which was seconded by Baillie Simpson. There being an equality of votes, the Provost gave his casting vote in favour of Mr Wilson's amendment.

As to the hour of closing, Baillie Douglas moved that eleven o'clock should be fixed instead of half past eleven, as in Glasgow. Mr Robert Gairdner moved that the hour should be half past eleven, Mr Glover having stated that in certain cases it might be a hardship for him to be restricted to eleven o'clock. The Theatre, which is a handsome and commodious structure, is being rapidly completed, and is expected to be opened under Mr Glover's management on the 22nd instant.

Glasgow Herald, 10th March, 1875

For further information on the architecture and the Historic Scotland listing, please follow this LINK.  The Historic Scotland database has not been updated to reflect recent developments on the site.  However, the Buildings at Risk register now shows 'restoration in progress'.