It’s a family affair as Galashiels cinema prepares to celebrate centenary

From left, Andrew Poole, his wife Lenore, Lorna Poole and her husband Neil, bosses of the Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels.
From left, Andrew Poole, his wife Lenore, Lorna Poole and her husband Neil, bosses of the Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels.

A cinema set to celebrate the centenary of the building that is home to it next year is putting its faith in family values as it looks to the future.

The Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels has been putting Borderers in the picture for deacdes, and its bosses hope to keep doing so for decades more to come, they say.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Market Street building now home to the four-screen cinema, the old Galashiels Playhouse, though it only began screening what were then known as talkies a decade later.

Building work actually began on the playhouse in 1914 but was put on hold later that same year after the outbreak of the First World War, only resuming in 1919.

Renamed the Capitol then the Kingsway before adopting its current name, the cinema has been run by the Poole family for the last 26 years.

Owners Andrew and Neil Poole, along with wives Lenore and Lorna, are determined to see off challenges such as the rise in popularity of streaming movies via the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, along with the opening of the Borders Railway offering Gala folk the option of hopping on a train to see films in Edinburgh, and have undertaken a rebrand intended to make customers feel even more at home.

The fact that the Pavilion, the only commercial cinema in the Borders, is family-run was the key message the Poole brothers wanted to communicate to customers, emphasising that the venue has long been a regular destination for families of all ages, prompting the strapline ‘Our family. Your cinema’.

Andrew said: “I’ve operated the Pavilion since 1993, but our family involvement in cinema goes as far back as the 1940s, when our dad started his own cinema in his living room.

“In the 1970s, we operated a mobile cinema across the eastern Borders, and then in the 1980s, we moved into full-time cinema ownership.

“Over the decades, we’ve seen lots of changes in the industry, but the biggest change was the move from traditional 35mm film to digital projection in the early 2010s.

“Like any small business on the high street, we’re facing significant challenges, so we decided to meet those challenges head on.

“We recognised that over the years we’d never had professional advice on actually marketing our business, so, with the help of a local marketing company, we threw out almost everything we were currently printing and using to communicate with our customers and refreshed the lot.

“We redesigned our website and significantly rethought our social media marketing plan.

“When it came to thinking of a strapline, we engaged with all our 16 staff and sought their ideas. One of our juniors actually said to us ‘I love working here. It’s like one big happy family’. As much as any employer would love to hear that from their staff, it also made us realise she was absolutely correct.

“Our family extends well beyond the four Pooles and includes all our hard-working staff, but also has an additional meaning – that we regard our customers as family too, and we treat them like so.

“It’s almost always the case that one of us is on duty, selling tickets or serving popcorn, and present at the end of a show to say goodnight and if anyone wants a chat about the film they’ve just watched, we’re all ears.”

For details, in due course, of the Pooles’ plans to celebrate the centenary of their cinema’s home, go to www.pavilioncinema.co.uk