Palace Theatre, Fauldhouse

Palace Theatre, Fauldhouse

The Palace Theatre opened in Fauldhouse as a cinema and theatre in the fourth week of the War:

On 28 August 1914, the West Lothian Courier reported:

...every available seat was taken up. The building, which is exactly after the same design as the Pavilion in Shotts, is a handsome big house, and is fitted up with all the latest improvements... Tip-up chairs are fitted in the Pit and Stalls, while forms are placed in the gallery. The large stage is slightly sloped so as to give everybody in the "House" an uninterrupted view. To help the musical part of the programme, a grand piano is provided and a good space in front of the stage for an orchestra... Not a single hitch occurred in the carrying out of the entire programme.

The cinema was used both for the showing of films, and for concerts and fund-raising events. The owner and manager were public-spirited men and often made their facilities freely available for deserving causes.

On 4 September 1914, the West Lothian Courier reported:

As a benefit to the dependents of the local company of Territorials now on duty, the management of the Palace Picture House gave a special night on Thursday, 3rd September, when the film of the 10th (Cyclists) Battalion Royal Scots at Barassie [during their annual summer training camp] was shown.

The Palace Theatre offered 'a nightly change of pictures'. These were mainly dramas or serials, but from 1916, they occasionally included official films of actual battles (much edited by the army’s 'General Headquarters').

For example, on 9 March 1917, the West Lothian Courier reported:

One would require to travel a good bit to enjoy a better programme than that which Mr Forrester presented to the patrons last week.  "The Boss" proved to be a powerful drama, which was only eclipsed by that record breaker, "The Black Crook", a forceful drama of five parts, full of sensation and powerful incident. Next week that greatest of all war pictures, "The Battle of the Ancre" will be shown.

Also popular were variety acts, including local talent competitions.

On 24 August 1917, the West Lothian Courier reported:

At the Palace Theatre last Wednesday, the third of the new competitions took place. The house was full and there was a big entry for the prizes. The following were the prize winners – 1st prize, Mr Forrest, Whitburn, violinist;  2nd, Mr Lumsden, Blackburn, soloist; 3rd, Mr Colquhoun, Fauldhouse, clog dancer.

Mr Forrester the manager frequently offered filmshows at Bangour War Hospital, or took a party of artistes to entertain the wounded soldiers. He also made the theatre available on Sundays;  no cinemas operated on Sundays at that period.

On 12 April 1918, the West Lothian Courier reported:

On Sunday afternoon, a sacred concert was held in the Palace Theatre in aid of the Belgian Soldiers’ Comforts Fund. The turnout was rather disappointing. The Rev. Father Joyce gave a short address on the part played by Belgium in the great war. He said that now when greater calls were being made on us for the carrying on of our just war, we were not be to become selfish and forget the claims that our small Allies had on our generosity. The Belgian patriotic film was screened, depicting scenes in Belgium during the retreat from Liege, and giving an idea of the war activities of the Belgian soldiers and civilians.

'The Battle of the Somme' was the first official war film, issued in early 1917. Though edited to avoid lowering public morale (barely a single corpse was shown), it and subsequent war films provided the public with some inkling of the real conditions of fighting at the front. 

Advert for a showing of an official war film at Fauldhouse, West Lothian Courier 17 March 1917. Tanks were first used in 1917 and the early ones had two small wheels at the rear to aid steering.
Towards the end of its days, the Palace became the Savoy Bingo Club. It has since been demolished. (West Lothian Local History Library)