The Dookit and Jimmy “Brick” McCallum

1935 Blantyre Picture Theatre (the Dookit)

1935 Blantyre Picture Theatre (the Dookit)

The Blantyre Picture Theatre was constructed in 1913 on Glasgow Road near the corner of Alpine Street. It was the first cinema in the area to show reels of film and proved an instant hit with the entire population, young and old alike. Built by EH Bostok, It proved an important local role in the first world war in keeping people informed, visually what was happening in the Great War. It housed 850 seats. The ventilation windows in the projector rooms made the outside of the building look like a dove cot and the building soon had the local nickname “The Dookit”.

In 1929, it was leased out to LCV Circuit who embraced new technologies such as “talkies” or movies with sound. The cinema served Blantyre well and was popular even when a second cinema arrived in 1939.

In the late 1940’s and early 1950s, the picture house was owned by enterprising couple Mr and Mrs Brown, who also owned the “Daisy Brown Dance School” to the immediate western (left) side of the building.

However, by the late 1950’s and with grander picture houses opening nearby in Hamilton, the cinema started to fall into decline (perhaps through its age and facilities). The attendant who would guide you to his seat was known as Jimmy “The Brick” McCallum (named after a comic book character of the time), a man all children feared. Shining a torch in your face if you were misbehaving was apparently the norm. Other stories I’ve heard about this building is how children would stamp their feet in excitement when the “goodies chased the baddies” and the noise of crisp bags popping every minute.

After a brief spell from 1959 and into the 1960’s as an indoor bowling alley, and as a live acts venue, it closed shortly after and today is no longer there.

On social media:

Jack Owens Jack Flash pilot of the future.

Ray Couston Yasssss! Thank you for this post! People don’t believe me when I tell them that Blantyre once had a picture house and a bowling alley!

The Blantyre Project several picture houses and two bowling alleys!

Moyra Lindsay At one time there were three picture houses. 22 pubs according to Burleigh Church minister. That was in a sermon when I was about 10 strange that that’s about the only sermon I remember.

The Blantyre Project I’m now up to documenting over 50 pubs within Blantyre, but 22 pubs at any one time, IS a lot.

Irene Burns good grief, I’m getting old, I remember going here when it was the cinema and then the bowling alley.

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