Alhambra

  • About
    We are very grateful to local entertainment historia Brian Nobile for compiling this history of the venue

    Can I say how delighted I am at being asked to do a short history of The Alhambra.
    As an entertainment historian for the Dunfermline area and born in 1951 I was
    taken to many of the great Scottish shows held in the popular venue in the early
    and mid 1960's by my mother and even once met the Alexander Bros. It was
    amazing the audiences these kind of shows could pull in but the problem was that
    the overheads were so high that and you needed a huge crowd to break even.

    The story of The Alhambra starts in 1920 when planning permission was submitted
    to build a theatre at the corner of Canmore Street and The New Row in
    Dunfermline. All went well with the application and work was started fairly
    quickly. Nobody is really sure what went wrong but by the time the theatre was
    ready for opening the owners had run out of money. It was touch and go whether
    or not the theatre would actually open as the companies weren't to happy about
    not being paid for creating a state of the art entertainment venue. If you've been
    to The Alhambra you can imagine the detailed work that was carried out when
    building. A meeting was held with the bank and the companies involved and it was
    pointed out that if the theatre didn't open the owners would be bankrupt and
    nobody would get anything. They found a way round the problem by offering the
    companies involved shares in the Alhambra which obviously didn't suit all but it
    was better than nothing.


    The Alhambra finally opened it's doors to the public in August 1922 with a film
    called 'Over The Hill'. It was disappointing to many at the time that a beautiful
    theatre should offer films and not 'live' entertainment but the owners promised
    patrons that the best of the touring companies would be brought to the Alhambra,
    this they tried to do but for some reason it wasn't working. It was agreed to seek
    a new owner that would come in and turn the theatre's fortunes around. In 1923
    a Managing Director was found and it came in the form of The Alhambra's biggest
    rival. The owner of The Dunfermline Opera House was London born actor, touring
    company and now theatre owner John Henry Hare who had settled in the town
    after taking ownership of the Opera House in 1912. Since John Henry Hare took
    over The Opera House he had brought to the town some of London's best west
    end productions and the standard of entertainers he brought proved he obviously
    had his finger on the pulse of what was happening in the world of entertainment.
    The question was could he do the same for The Alhambra?

    In researching for this article and going through the local papers of the time he brought to the Alhambra a great wealth of top performers and touring company's. The D'Oyly Carte company was the bench mark of the standard of entertainment that graced the stage of the Alhambra at the time but as in other cities and towns in Britain entertainment tastes were changing. With the improved quality of films being made and the popularity of Charlie Chaplin ect. it was cinema that was packing them in and
    theatres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Perth were having to
    adjust to the clamber for better quality venues for the Cinema boom as it became
    harder to fill the theatres with 'Live' entertainment.

    A decision was made in 1924 to turn the Alhambra theatre into 'The Temple Of
    Motion Pictures' and from then until 1965 it was one of the most popular cinemas
    in fife and brought to the town all the great Hollywood blockbuster movies that
    became so popular that people would queue of hours to see their favourite film or
    film stars. It would be wrong to say that The Alhambra had failed as a theatre
    because it was turned into a cinema but it had a great history and by the number
    of letters I've received over the years the filmgoers of the area have many happy
    memories of their visits to the Alhambra.

    It's with great excitement that 80 years after the decision to stop bringing live
    entertainment to the Canmore Street venue that entertainment tastes have again
    changed and the quality of artistes that the new owners have planed to bring to the
    Alhambra fills me with great warmth and feeling and I hope that the future is a
    bright and successful one.

    Surely the highlight of the Alhambra so far must be from August 1928 when the
    then Duke & Duchess of York (later King & Queen) were given The Freedom Of
    Dunfermline on the stage of The Alhambra. How many theatres can boast of that?

    Brian Nobile
  • Address
    High Street
    Dunfermline
    KY12 7NX
  • Website

Members of Casting Call Pro who have worked for Alhambra