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June 13, 2022

My Place in Montrose

Ten years ago, a new swimming facility opened in Montrose leaving the old purpose-built swimming pool building without any obvious use. A local architect posted his thoughts online about how it could be repurposed as a cinema and within a week the Montrose Playhouse Project was formed. With Angus Council transferring the asset for £1 and a mass community event stripping the building back to a shell (saving £250,000 and 6 months), construction work started in 2021. The Montrose Playhouse opened its doors 10 months later and it has just scooped the Scottish Civic Trust My Place Award.

Scottish Civic Trust

Watch short film of the Montrose Playhouse story

 The My Place Awards celebrate community-led built environment projects that have transformed their locality. They are supported by the Scottish Government, and are unique in Scotland as a national celebration of good design and conservation nominated by local people. 

The Montrose Playhouse project began in 2012 after a new swimming facility was built in Montrose, causing local people to wonder what would become of the old pool hall. David Paton, associate Director at Crawford Architecture and eventual Chair of Montrose Playhouse Project SCIO, posted his thoughts online about how the building could be re-imagined as a cinema.Within a few hours, 500 people had liked the post and urged for the designs to become a reality. Within a week, the Montrose Playhouse Project was born.

In 2017, the Montrose Playhouse Project SCIO committee purchased the disused building from Angus Council for £1. They then held a community event to strip the building back to a shell, engaging over 80 volunteers and saving the project around £250,000 and six months of time.

Construction began in 2021, and over ten months, the former pool hall was converted into three screening rooms with a combined capacity of just under 400 people. The Playhouse also features education and exhibition facilities, retail space and a cafe bar. Since its opening in October 2021, the Playhouse has seen a six percent lift in its operating budget, and over 52,000 cinema tickets were sold. 

The judges said: “Montrose Playhouse is an inspiring example of how communities can come together to develop innovative places and achieve a positive change for local people. It’s clear that Montrose Playhouse has established itself as a versatile cultural community asset, stimulating the local economy and providing an accessible and aesthetically pleasing social space for all ages.”

Watch short film of the Montrose Playhouse story