A First Class Picture House and Mr. Fullarton.
All the biographies for the original shareholders of the Picture House are complete. We know who these people were and have uncovered little snapshots of their lives. These were the “People of the Picture House”. So what next? Most, if not all the exciting stories have already been told and I was wondering where my research could go now. But then I realised that the shareholders weren’t the only “People of the Picture House”. What about the people who actually built the Cinema?
I knew that the Accounts Ledger had a “Buildings Account” page with listings of payments to the companies and workmen who carried out the work. And so the builders and workers of the Picture House became my new focus.
It was clear that some of the workers were local people. Indeed, some of the names were very familiar (more of that later) and some were complete unknowns.
So I’m going to start backwards…with the opening… Robin had emailed me a photograph of the completion certificate which had a signature and date…
James Stewart Fullarton was born in Campbeltown in 1854. He was the son of Archibald Fullarton, the Manager of Scotia Distillery at Dalintober which was founded by the Galbraith family.
James Stewart Fullarton was educated at old Dalintober School after which he became apprenticed as a plumber with Robert Armour & Sons. In 1880 he married a local girl Sarah McMillan, and by 1881 he and Sarah were living at North Shore Street in Campbeltown. Their son, James McMillan Fullarton was born in 1883, but unfortunately Sarah died that same year aged 25.
James married another local girl, Catherine McNeil in 1885. It was around this time that James Stewart Fullarton’s career took a new direction.
The Post Office Directory of 1886 shows that James was now The Master of Works for Campbeltown and his office was the Town Hall, Main Street. By 1891 he had been promoted to Burgh Surveyor and by 1903 he was also the Water Works Office Manager and Town Hall Keeper.
James worked for the Corporation for 40 years and during his time as Master of Works, many important improvements to the town were carried out. This included the filling up of the shore ground between the old and new Quays, the completion of Kilkerran embankment, the extension of the old Quay, the laying of new water pipes from Crosshill, the improvements to the drainage system of the town, the formation of Longrow South and the construction of Hall Street where the Picture House is located.
James Stewart Fullarton died in 1918 and his obituary in the Campbeltown Courier gives an insight to the kind of man he was:
“He was a most capable and reliable official. He rendered faithful and efficient service. Mr Fullarton’s thorough practical knowledge enabled him to discharge the varied duties of his office with distinct success. He was methodical and painstaking, and to the minutest detail adorned his position.”
I think it is safe to say that Mr Fullarton would not have signed the certificate had the Picture House not met his rigorous standards!
James Stewart Fullarton signed the completion certificate for the Picture House on 22nd May 1913, only four days before it opened.
Picture Credit: Campbeltown Courier advert 24th May 1913
Completion Certificate from Picture House Archive collection