The Hippodrome Falkirk is owned by the Scottish Historic Building Trust. They sorted the first phase of resstoring the building then leased to Falkirk Council, who will offer a modern cinema-going experience in the building’s previous delightfull guise. Even though The Hippodrome’s prominent place, laying in the cultural heritage of Bo’ness, only a small amount of information is available in the public domain.
Louis Dickson remains something of a unknown, and much of the material about his early work, including digitised film clips and a biography lay below….
Louis Dickson (1880 -1960) Cinema exhibitor and topical film-maker Dickson trained as an electrical engineer, before entering the cinematograph trade in 1899. A keen cameraman, Dickson was quick to establish himself within the industry and in 1908 he was appointed the official ‘Kinematographer’ to the Scottish National Exhibition in Edinburgh. In 1912 he opened Scotland’s first purpose built cinema in Bo’ness, the Hippodrome, in Hope Street.
Designed by the local architect, Matthew Steel, the Hippodrome was one of the finest buildings in the town and was distinctive of Steel’s style, which also characterised many other Bo’ness buildings. Seating 1,004 on two levels, the Hippodrome’s opening ceremony was performed by the town’s Provost Grant. Unlike many other individuals involved in the industry at this time, Dickson did not seek to consolidate or expand his business throughout Scotland, instead preferring to remain the proprietor and manager of the Hippodrome. Nevertheless, Dickson did play an important role in the trade in general, through the positions he held in the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association (CEA), of which he was Vice Chairman of the Scottish Branch. In 1926 he also was one of the Scots delegated to attend the CEA’s General Council.
Dickson produced local topicals for the Hippodrome including films of the annual Miner’s Day Gala in Bo’ness, which evolved into the Bo’ness Children’s Fair. The Fair was held on Fair Friday, which fell on the second Friday of July each year. It was an annual event which caused much excitement in the town and the film, usually shown a week later at the Hippodrome, was always a popular show. Dickson remained and worked in Bo’ness until his death in the early 1960s. He was an innovative man with a strong sense of humour which could be seen by the fact that he called his house “Hollywood”.
Contact the Hippodrome Falkirk
By Post: The Hippodrome 10 Hope Street Bo’ness EH51 0AA
Telephone the Box Office: 01324 506850 More Info
By Email: hippodrome@ falkirk.gov.uk