Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The Alhambra Theatre, Canmore Street, Dunfermline

Formerly - Carlton Bingo

Dunfermline Index

A Google StreetView Image of the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline - Click to Interact

A Flyer for the Alexander Brothers at the Alhambra Cinema, Dunfermline in 1966 - Courtesy Colin Calder.Dunfermline`s Alhambra opened in August 1922, designed by architect John Fraser on a large site at the corner of Canmore Street and New Row where it continues today. It seated 1700, with room for 200 standing and initially combined film and stage production - with its stage regarded as being the fourth largest in Scotland - but very soon it concentrated upon being a cinema, with only occasional stage shows and public meetings. In 1928 it was the venue for the granting of the Freedom of Dunfermline to the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Right - A Flyer for the Alexander Brothers at the Alhambra Cinema, Dunfermline in 1966 - Courtesy Colin Calder.

The theatre is faced with red brick and has a modest entry but soon opens up to an imposing interior which is a combination of Egyptian, Classical and Art Deco motifs. The auditorium is very spacious and has stalls, circle and boxes.

Although Henry Hare, Dunfermline`s Opera House owner, secured a site for a new theatre in 1915 it was John Fraser who was the driving force in making the Alhambra a reality. He had designed the first purpose built Cinema House in the town in Viewfield Place in 1913, owned by Dunfermline Cinema House Ltd of which he was a founder. Fraser also owned Burntisland Cinema House Ltd. He was a director of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club, and then from 1923 its President.

In April 1921 John Fraser was a founder and a director of a new venture, The Scottish Central Theatre Co Ltd., whose managing director was the publican and hotel owner John Muir Calder - owner of the Alhambra Theatre, Stirling, and the Grand Theatre, Falkirk. He had managed at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow and operated the Rock Villa dog racing ground in Glasgow and the pony-trotting track in Govan, Glasgow. The purpose of this company was “to acquire theatres, picture houses and places of entertainment” in Central Scotland and develop new ones. Another director was Lanarkshire cinema owner and building contractor George Stewart of Blantyre (whose firm erected the Alhambra).

The Dunfermline Alhambra's auditorium from the top box - Courtesy Graeme Smith.J.M.Calder was also Managing Director, and Stewart and others were directors of the sister company The Scottish Provincial Theatres LTD formed in November 1919 with its offices in Dunfermline “to acquire properties in Dunfermline, Stirling, Alloa and elsewhere on which to erect theatres etc.” It took over the Opera House in Reform Street.

Left - The Dunfermline Alhambra's auditorium from the top box - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Plans for the Alhambra were lodged with the council by The Scottish Provincial Theatres LTD the following month, with John Fraser as architect. Earlier in August 1919 the Alhambra Dunfermline LTD was formed to include local shareholders and it was this company which became ultimate owners of the new theatre until around 1970.

The Dunfermline Alhambra's front entrance - Courtesy Dave Fergusson.Fraser continued to be active in architecture, sport and places of entertainment. Just a few years before his passing in 1941 he was the architect and a founder of Dunfermline Ice Rink LTD which opened its doors in 1939.

Right - The Dunfermline Alhambra's front entrance - Courtesy Dave Fergusson.

In 1965 the Alhambra changed from film to bingo with occasional stage shows, without significant change to its interior or facilities. The operator, Carlton Bingo, moved to new purpose built bingo premises in 2006 elsewhere in the town , at which point a public campaign was launched to encourage the building`s retention and refurbishment. This has proved successful and Bill Fletcher and his development company own the Alhambra, brought back to performing life in association with Paul Gudgin previously Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was re-launched on 7th June 2008, accommodating some 1200 seated in stalls and circle (or configurations taking it to 2,100) and is a popular music venue and theatre which stages comedy, concerts, musicals, plays, pantomime and occasional tours of opera and ballet.

The Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline at night and showing its reinstated neon sign - Courtesy WelcomeToFife.com

Above - The Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline at night and showing its reinstated neon sign - Courtesy WelcomeToFife.com

Four of Ian Grundy`s photographs on Flickr show the stylish interior of the Alhambra Theatre as follows: Proscenium and stage from stalls, Auditorium viewed from the stage, Auditorium from top box, Part of foyer.

A daytime photograph showing the scale of the Alhambra building as photographed in 2007 can be viewed here in the Scottish Cinema site.

The theatre`s own website contains more information and a gallery of historical and current photographs.

The above information on the Alhambra Theatre was written for this site by Graeme Smith in April 2013.

Other Pages that may be of Interest