Column: Inside the cinema that Kirkcaldy forgot ...

It’s strange how buildings can still retain some of their magic even after decades of decay.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 12:30 pm

Two steps into the foyer of the old ABC Cinema on the High Street and I was instantly transported back to the late 1980s when I used to get the place to myself for press screenings of the latest big movies.

Douglas Adams, the much loved cinema manager, used to get advance copies and open up the main cinema on a Friday afternoon.

His routine never changed. Coffee and a KitKat in his office, before he presented you with the press pack containing all the production notes, cast biogs and a pack of black and white images in a cellophane folder.

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Inside Kirkcaldy's old ABC CInema which closed in 2000

A second cuppa and a second biscuit - that was mandatory - followed before I headed off along the empty corridor to pick my seat and enjoy the film. As afternoons go it certainly beat working!

Time has stood still in some respects in the old cinema. Sadly, it has also ravaged much of the building.

The main cinema is in a hellish state; the seats long ripped out, and wood and debris lying everywhere. You find the odd dead pigeon here and there as you pick your way carefully up the steps.

The dividing wall between cinema two and three is no more than rubble, the instantly recognisable red paint is peeling from some corridor walls, but walking along it still feels re-assuringly familiar.

You can also pick out details here and there - signage for the circle, the gents, and the projection room, where a set of glasses sit in their case.

Behind the scenes the projectors have gone, but some of the mechanical systems stand silent while the giant air conditioning system appears big enough to rev a 747.

I hadn’t previously noticed the ghost signs in Redburn Wynd which were etched into the stonework, directing folk to the stalls and circle as they queued all the way down to the Esplanade.

Up on the roof you get a sense of the scale of the entire complex, and the opportunities, and challenges, it offers

From the cinema entrance on the High Street, down over the ballroom and on to the front door of the old YWCA on the waterfront it covers a huge footprint - three distinct, but inter-linked buildings which form one huge piece of property.

We as a town - residents, councillors, officers and past owners - have allowed it to decay behind that dreadful green canopy which wilted with every passing winter.

We walked passed the doors every day unaware of the fact it was slowly stagnating and rotting.

If it wasn’t for the passion and commitment of the trustees and a remarkable team behind them, we’d still be none the wiser until the roof caved in and someone came up with a plan to simply flatten it.

They have done more than anyone to get the Kings project to where it is today.

Big challenges remain, but with passion and drive, you can just about make anything happen …

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