27 Nov

From Picture House Managers to King Solomon’s Mines and The Halls of Montezuma!

Archive, Norman Mowatt

This week I have been finding out about the second manager of the Picture House, Mr Duncan Sinclair. Born near Colintraive in Cowal Duncan Sinclair came to Campbeltown after WW1 in connection with his training role with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders after serving in the regiment as a Territorial before the war and in the 8th Battalion during the war. Amongst his many other roles both paid and voluntary Mr Sinclair was manager of the Picture House for 19 years until his death in 1952.

I had previously done some research on the first manager of the Picture House Mr George F Roger, whose name featured prominently in the very first of the Picture House adverts to appear in the Campbeltown Courier. Mr Roger came from the Dundee area and was a photographer both before and during his time as Picture House manager. His father was a professional photographer with a studio in Dundee and George Roger himself had a professional studio in Greenock then a succession of studios in Campbeltown and the shop next to the Picture House. Both very handy for his home in Royal Avenue Mansions. George F. Roger invested in fifty shares in the Picture House.

To conclude my research into the life of Duncan Sinclair and to enable me to write his biography I went to the library to read his obituary in the Campbeltown Courier. Usually when we do research in the library we call upon the always very helpful librarians to let us look through the microfilmed versions of the newspapers. On this occasion, and on one other, the newspapers in question were not on microfilm but bound in huge hardback books big enough to hold the copies of broadsheet newspapers for two years. I very much enjoyed turning the pages of the original editions of the newspapers and it took several minutes longer than necessary to reach the article I was looking for as I kept stopping to read little bits of this and that fascinating article or headline I saw along the way.

Research objective complete it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to have a look at what films people had been watching in 1952, so I had a look through some editions and took a few quick photos of the adverts for both the Picture House and for the Rex. I didn’t take the time to set up and get perfect shots, so some look a little less than squared up. My first impression was that the adverts were similar in the main but that the Rex listed their supporting films and included a lot more separate adverts featuring photos of the major stars of the day.

For example:

















Photo or graphical adverts were rare for the Picture House, but on the 10th of April 1952 there was a photo advert for the Picture House too showing the male lead Stewart Granger who played Alan Quartermain in the major film King Solomon’s Mines. The female lead was Deborah Kerr.

Two Pictures you MUST see !!









In King Solomon’s Mines, based on the book by H. Rider Haggard, adventurer Allan Quartermain leads an expedition into uncharted African territory in an attempt to locate an explorer who went missing during his search for the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon. The film won two Oscars and was nominated for a third.

The other must see was I’d Climb the Highest Mountain a simple story, based on Corra Harris’ biographical book, of a Methodist minister, called to a north-Georgia mountain-community in 1910 who, with his gently-bred new bride, meets the problems and crises of his circuit congregation fearlessly and honestly. The big star name in this top six of the year movie was Susan Hayward and her male co-star William Lundigan (not a name I recognised).

… and the films were now in…

The 1952 adverts listed quite a number of films for any one week and they had all the admission prices listed along the bottom.









Rex Prices:Picture House Prices:
Front Stalls 1/6Front area 1/6, children 7d
Back stalls 2/1Back area 2/1, children 1/-
Balcony 2/7Balcony 2/7, children 1/6
Divans 3/5
(afternoon: stalls 1/6 and balcony 2/1)

That set me thinking about pre-decimal currency and comparative prices.

What could you buy back in 1952 for one pound?

How about 15 pints of beer, or 14 fish suppers!

1950s Prices (Approx.)



Average Weekly Wage

£9 5s


Gallon of Petrol (4.5 litres)


(4 shillings and sixpence)


(would be rounded up to 23p)




1lb Butter



A loaf of bread



A pint of milk



6 eggs (a half dozen)



… and finally, back to the movies !

For the weeks that I looked at in the Courier, here are two lists of movies. One for each Cinema.

Have you seen any of the movies?

How many films in the lists have you even heard of?

Tea for TwoThree Little Girls in Blue
Singing GunsTreasure Island
Harbour of Missing MenHunt the Man Down
I Killed GeronimoRiders of the Range
Paul Tekple’s TriumphPagan Love Song
The Lavender Hill Mob
Mr Denning Drives NorthHalls of Montezuma
Riders of the DuskNorth West Passage
Dallashe Bride Goes Wild
The Great Jewel Robber
The Light Fantastic
The Strip
Operation Pacific
Blue Grass of KentuckyKing Solomon’s Mines
Fathers Wild GameI’d Climb the Highest Mountain
An Ideal HusbandWhirlpool
Honeymoon Deferred
Thunder in the East
RimfireOn the Riviera
A Case for PC 49Dixie
Bomba and the Hidden CityTarzan and the Jungle Queen
Bowery BattalionRed Mountain
The Fighting
Black Widow
Goodbye My FancyCall Me Mister
TreasonHalf Angel
The Armchair DetectiveThe Frogmen
Young Wives Tale
Call of the Klondike
Another Man’s PoisonHome Town Story
CurleyThe Tall Target
Canyon PassStrictly Dishonourable
I Was a Communist for the FBIThe Law and the Lady
Ten Tall Men
Lorna DooneBird of Paradise
The Big GusherAs Young As You Feel
SugerfootMr Belvedere Rings the Bell
The Dead End Kids on Dress Parade
Strangers on a Train
Lost ContinentAnnie Get Your Gun
Whispering Smith Hits LondonThe Valley of Decision
Mask of the AvengerLone Star
The Harlem Globetrotters
Cinema Let for the Gaelic ModDecision Before Dawn
The Daughter of Rosie O’GradyThe Sword of Monte Cristo
The StoogeNo Highway
High Vermilion
Lightning Strikes Twice
The Light Touch
Lady Godiva Rides AgainSomething to Live For
Hong KongHorse Feathers
The Adventures of Robin HoodThe Story of Dr Wassell
The Adventures of Robin HoodThe Accused
Westward the WomenThe Secret of Convict Lake
The Barefoot MailmanThe Guy Who Came Back
Girls Never TellPeople Will Talk
Reluctant Heroes
Abroad with Two Yanks
Appointment with VenusThe Company She Keeps
Port of New YorkWyoming Mail
WarpathMeet Me After the Show
Captain Horatio Hornblower RN
Target UnknownMy Favourite Spy
BlackoutThe Forest Rangers
Highway 301A Place in the Sun
An Angel from Texas
Sailor Beware
The Strange DoorKansas Raiders
You Never KnowThe Fat Man
Wonder ManNavy Bound
DumboOver the Border
Home at SevenRommel Desert Fox
Beginner’s Luck
Man of BronzeThe Greatest Show on Earth
The San Francisco Story
Cave of Outlaws
No Room for the Groom
Angels One Five
Crazy Over Horses

Image credits

1.) ‘Rex Cinema- Man of bronze, Burt Lancaster’, (10th December 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

2.) ‘Rex Cinema – Showboat’, (10th July 1952 Courier 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

3.) ‘Rex Cinema – Captain Horatio Hornblower, Gregory Peck’, (19th June 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

4.) ‘Rex Cinema – The Stooge, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’, (22nd May 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

5.) ‘Picture House – King Solomon’s Mines, Stewart Granger’, ’ (10th April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

6.) ‘Picture House – Weekly Listings Advert’, (10th April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

7.) ‘Rex Cinema – Weekly Listings Advert’, (3rd April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

8.) Picture House – Weekly Listings Advert’, (3rd April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)

Waylaid plans and Pic… November 27, 2017 Picture House Memorie… November 27, 2017