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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Cinema restoration move to begin
The Hippodrome in Bo'ness
The Hippodrome was designed by Bo'ness architect Matthew Steele
Work to restore Scotland's first purpose-built cinema to its former glory is to get under way.

The Hippodrome in Bo'ness, near Falkirk, opened in 1912 and operated as a cinema and then a bingo hall until it closed in the 1980s.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has now agreed to part fund the 1.7m project.

The A-listed building is expected to reopen as a cinema and visitor centre as part of a 5m heritage drive to restore historic Bo'ness buildings.

The year-long restoration project will be undertaken by the Hippodrome's owners, the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, before being run by Falkirk Council.

John Constable, chairman of the Bo'ness Regeneration Working Group, said: "The Hippodrome project symbolises what we want to achieve in the regeneration of Bo'ness - the preservation of the town's remarkable history and the creation of a living, working building which is relevant to modern life."

It is hoped that a wide variety of films will be screened at the cinema, including classic and contemporary productions, as well as art house and silent movies.

The visitor centre will recount the story of Scotland's first cinematic venture as well as the many aspects of the history of Bo'ness.

The Hippodrome in Bo'ness
The Bo'ness Hippodrome is badly in need of repair

The distinctive round stone design of the movie theatre, which seated more than 1,000 people on two levels, was created by local architect Mathew Steele.

The building was the inspiration of Louis Dickson, who showed the current newsreels and film features of the day, along with films he shot himself of local events such as the Bo'ness Fair.

Colin McLean, Scotland manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is providing 502,839 for the project, said: "The Hippodrome will be a great example of how historic buildings can once again play a central role in the community."

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