Film fans in an Angus town are keen to revive its cinema as a centre for community entertainment.
Before multiplexes and Imaxes appeared on the scene, the picture house was a focus of community social life, and small-town cinemas were not uncommon.
Films were so popular at Montrose that the town supported two picture houses.
Now the county has none and a voluntary organisation is making a bid to establish a cinema for the whole area.
Members of Montrose Picture House have launched a campaign to incorporate a cinema into a mega-pub development by brewery giant Belhaven. The company plans to redevelop the former Gala bingo hall, which was once a cinema.
The building’s mezzanine and balcony area can accommodate about 200 people and the original cinema seats are intact.
The volunteer group has organised successful screenings over the past four years at its former venue, the Mitchell Arts Centre, and latterly at the Links Hotel.
While Belhaven is keen to explore the idea, the company has expressed concern that the proposal could push up costs by as much as £200,000 and add up to three months to the planning process.
Picture House chairman Giles Laverack said: “We feel there is a major opportunity here to see the upstairs area of the Gala bingo hall used as a cinema. As we have demonstrated throughout the last four years, there is a huge demand for big-screen film shows at Montrose.
“It would be a wasted opportunity to see a venue of this size given over purely to a pub. The town now needs to convince Belhaven it’s worth spending the money. We also need Angus Council onside as this is a landmark building with a history of cinema and its loss as a pub-only venue would be a great shame.”
Mr Laverack said combining a cinema with a pub had been successful elsewhere, notably at the Grosvenor Cinema in Glasgow.
Belhaven buildings and projects manager Angus Alston said the main concerns for the company were additional costs.
“The proposal to utilise the balcony area of the bingo hall as a cinema is certainly an interesting one and worth exploring, particularly as at present we don’t see this area being utilised fully,” he said. “I do have some serious concerns that would need to be overcome, some which could potentially make the development cost-prohibitive.”