Penicuik Cinema in the Town Hall

Nominated for the British Federation of Film Societies 2008 Awards Category: Best New Society


Story of Penicuik Cinema in the Twenty First Century


The Trust

Penicuik Community Development Trust was set up following a public meeting in 2005 to save Penicuik Town Hall as a focus for community regeneration. In the end the local council decided to refurbish the Town Hall rather than close it.  But our strong community movement was under way, and resolved to continue to promote the building for fuller community use.  From summer 2005, the Trust opened a weekly Open House with coffee and home baking and a series of exhibitions. Our rental of the space for Saturday Open House continues to this day. By spring 2007, the pattern was very well established, we had organised other events and brought out a popular range of postcards of the town, and some of our community formed a Foundation to take over the Penicuik Leisure Centre at Ladywood which the council had declared surplus to requirements –this too is going from strength to strength. 

The Cinema Group

In the early summer of 2007, under the wing of the Trust, a small group began to look at the possibility of showing films in Penicuik once again.  We are a large town, the largest in Midlothian, once famous for papermaking, and now a dormitory for Edinburgh. And we have had no cinema for far too long. It has been decades since the former picture house became a snooker hall; its last showing was Kramer vs Kramer.  We examined the possibilities. Deciding to operate as Penicuik CDT Digital Cinema under the PCDT’s organisational umbrella, we chose to go for an open theatrical rather than a membership approach. We got a lot of encouragement and help from BFFS Scottish arm, and we sought, and won, funding to help us purchase a big fourteen by eleven foot demountable screen for the Town Hall proscenium stage. We chose Sunday nights to avoid conflict with other Town Hall events and dances. and made arrangements with the council to rent the hall on a regular basis.  We joined BFFS. With a band of dedicated volunteers for booking, projection, front of house, publicity and refreshments, and a careful choice of fortnightly films (see to take us through autumn to the end of 2007 we were in business! Our accounts were meticulously watched, and we had the rigour of operating through the accounts and treasurership of the Trust and in fulfilment of its charitable aims and responsibilities (charity SC037990).   And that first season was very successful. It gave us the confidence to continue with a full programme till June 2008, to run an autumn season for 2008-9, and to arrange a 4-film Masters of World Cinema mini-season during Penicuik Arts Festival 2008.  


The first flush of enthusiasm for film has carried our big screen audience on through 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. We have always put on extra films during the annual arts festival, and we’re running weekly films in December 2010. You can see the complete playlist of Penicuik films since 2007, with posters, at