Avonbridge is a small village and it is not therefore surprising to learn that it could not sustain a cinema of its own. What is surprising is that the attempt was made. Like many of the Braes villages most entertainment was home-made as mentioned by Margaret Anderson in her contribution to Joyce Ligertwood’s “Annals of Avonbridge” –
“Sometimes there would be a travelling theatre company in the village presenting their plays in what had been a blanket mill, then a picture house, and was now a hall. Later it became Grant’s Garage. Everyone went to plays, because there were no babysitters: I remember Murder in the Red Barn.”
The Pavilion in Avonbridge opened its doors for the first time in April 1920. It was initially open every evening at 7.30 with a children’s matinee on Saturdays at 2.30p, the admission to which was a mere 1d. The management promoted a Go-as-you-please Competition every Wednesday for small cash prizes. The location seems to have been an old blanket mill next to the bridge over the river.
It is unclear how long the venue was able to run as a picture house, but it certainly continued as a venue for local organisations to stage concerts, plays, talks and dances. Throughout the 1920s the Avon Dramatic and Musical Society had its annual performances there. Likewise the farmers had a dance each year, indicating the temporary nature of the seating. Their attendance varied from 30 couples in 1926 to 70 in 1932. Political lectures for election campaigns utilised the hall.
Like most cinemas there were special events to raise money for various charities and in November 1923 that included the Redding Pit Disaster Relief Fund.
The Pavilion ceased showing films in the mid 1920s, but was re-opened as a film venue in October 1927 when Mr Brown of Coatbridge arranged picture shows there. This, however, was a brief interlude, and before long it reverted to a public hall. After that films were show on special occasions in the various meeting places in the village. In November 1944, for example, Rev Hope Moncrieff of Balquhatstone Church in Slamannan brought along a projector and showed coloured films to a large audience in Avonbridge Church.