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Abba's Mamma Mia re-opens Hippodrome Cinema in Bo'ness

Last night, April 6 2009, saw the first public screening since 1975

The Hippodrome was Scotland's first purpose-built cinema, and it has now been restored to its former glory at a cost of more than £2 million under the THI (Townscape Heritage Initiative) supported by Heritage Lottery Funding.

Hippodrome Red Carpet Opening
Rolling out the Red Carpet for Opening
(Picture: James Glossop/The Times)

Local Bo'ness residents were given the opportunity to win tickets and choose the film for last night's special viewing. The cinema will be officially open for public viewing on Thursday.

Mamma Mia! Chosen

Some well liked classics such as Singin' in the Rain, Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark were all considered – but Mamma Mia! was the resounding favourite.

Organisers of last night's screening have insisted the film is perfectly fitting – as Abba first stormed into the charts with Mamma Mia in 1975 – the year the last film to be screened at the Hippodrome was shown.

First purpose-built cinema

Designed by local architect Matthew Steele, the Hippodrome was the brainchild of Louis Dickson. He lured in audiences by screening short films, shot locally, and packed out by the people of Bo'ness in the hope of seeing themselves on the big screen attending events such as Bo'ness Children's Fair.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, culture and tourism leader on Falkirk Council, said: "The Hippodrome showed its last film in August 1975. It was the same year when Abba hit the charts with a song called Mamma Mia.

"It's great that the public have picked the film of the same name – featuring songs from the Seventies – to help us reopen the building. It's a fantastic feel-good film for a great community celebration. This fantastic restoration project has breathed new life into Scotland's first purpose-built cinema."

The cinema, renovated under the guidance of local architects, Pollack Hammond, has retained a host of features from a 1926 makeover which have now been painstakingly restored.

The major changes visitors will notice is slightly more legroom than before. 178 seats have been installed, compared with the 700 seats the cinema used to boast.

Heritage Lottery Funding

The revamp of the Hippodrome, costing in the region of £2.15 million, was given the green light almost three years after winning the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland. Other contributors included Falkirk Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Falkirk Environment Trust.

Packed Programme of Films

The opening listings, published recently and covering April to May, will feature new hits Aliens and Monsters, The Reader, Duplicity, The Boat That Rocked and The Young Victoria in a packed programme sure to appeal to a wide audience.

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