Majestic Cinema, Aberdeen.

Majestic Cinema

234 Union Street,

Aberdeen, AB10 1TN


Original owners:   James Brebner/ Caledonian Theatres Ltd.

Taken Over 4th January 1938 by:  Aberdeen Cinemas Ltd. (founded by James F. Donald).

Architect:  Thomas Scott Sutherland.  

Seating Capacity:  Stalls~1000, Balcony~ 800. Total= 1800 seats.

Date Opened:  Abdication Day of King Edward VIII, Thursday 10th December 1936.

First feature shown: “Eliza Comes to Stay” starring Betty Balfour and Seymour Hicks.

Date Closed:  Saturday 29th September 1973.

Final Film Shown:   “Kelly’s Heroes, starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas.

Demolished. Replaced by an office block known as the Caledonian House. This was opened on 25th February 1976, at a cost of £1.5 million.



The people of Aberdeen were given another entertainment venue when the 2000 seat Majestic, 800 of them in the balcony opened its doors in Union Street. The cinema was run by Caledonian Theatres Ltd. Designed by Thomas Scott Sutherland.

The Majestic was built on the site of the demolished La Scala cinema, which opened on the 30th April 1914, closing on 18th May 1935. Projection for this cinema was under the circle.

The entrance lobby of the Majestic cinema. Showing one of the two payboxes.

There were two pay boxes to cater for the large audiences of the day. Four further sets of doors gave access from the entrance vestibule into the inner foyer. Each side of the foyer there were beautiful panelled staircases to the upper foyer.

The front part of the balcony seating was in gold and the rear of the balcony green.

In the stalls area seating was coloured rose and gold. There were 2000 seats. At the opening 1400 were taken by invited guests, which included business people, the town council and cinema trade.  The rest were taken by the general public. The colour scheme in the auditorium was cream.

The thirty foot proscenium opening was framed by an attractive surround and was finished in burnished silver.  The building housed four dressing rooms to cater for occasional stage shows. Like many 1930s cinemas there was a café.

Betty Balfour, the star of the first film shown at the Majestic cinema.

The five sets of double doors were opened on the day that King Edward VIII abdicated, Thursday 10th December 1936, with the film “Eliza Comes to Stay” starring Betty Balfour and Seymour Hicks. During the day the cinema received many telegrams of congratulations from well-wishers and big film producing and distributing companies. At the opening a page boy stepped onto the stage to present Mrs Paton with a bouquet.

Like many 1930s cinemas there was a café.

The café and entrance doors to the balcony.

The hall was equipped with the famous Holophane lighting system and could be controlled from either stage or operating box. The operating box was equipped with Simplex projectors, Western Electric sound and Peerless arcs.

Hard of hearing patrons were able to make use of the Ardente deaf aid equipment.

Photographed at night during 1937.

Showmanship was high on the agenda and in 1937 a man dressed as an Arab went around the city with a donkey. On the back of the donkey were placards to advertise the film ‘The Garden of Allah’.

On 4th January 1938 it was taken over by Aberdeen Cinemas Ltd, founded by the late James F. Donald and operated by his sons. They ran twelve cinemas in Aberdeen.

Click the above frame to sample “Kelly’s Heroes”.

The Majestic showed its last film, “Kelly’s Heroes, starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas,  on Saturday 29th September 1973.

Caledonian House occupies the ground where the Majestic cinema once stood.

David A Elliscopyright