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Project to redevelop listed building

Flats plan for former Art Deco cinema

Former State cinema Leith
Former State cinema: flats plan (photo by Terry Murden)

A former Art Deco cinema in Edinburgh is to be redeveloped as flats under plans due to be submitted to the city council.

Glencairn Properties has bought the one-time State Cinema in Great Junction Street and wants to build 35 apartments.

The cinema was designed by architect Sir James Miller and opened in December 1938, part of a multi-use leisure development that incorporated shops, two billiard halls, and a skittle alley.

The sweeping curved entrance had a tower feature on the left hand side which was topped by a pagoda roof.

The cinema’s opening night featured Madeleine Carroll in Blockade and Gene Autry in Boots and Saddles.

State Cinema Leith (

The State’s opening night featured Madeleine Carroll in Blockade and Gene Autry in Boots and Saddles.

It could seat 1,650 patrons, of whom 450 were on the raised portion behind the stalls. The cinema closed in 1972 after showing Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare and it became a Mecca bingo hall.

In 1995 it was B-listed by Historic Scotland, although nothing of the original features remain.

In 2002 it was turned into the Babylon nightclub, which closed two years later. It continues to have a number of uses, including the Kingdom Church.

In February 2005 plans were proposed by Glasgow-based developer Walter Barratt to demolish the auditorium and retain the facade and foyer as an entrance to a new block of flats on the site. There was also a plan for a restaurant along the Water of Leith side of the building.

New owner Daryl Teague, director of Glencairn Properties, said that buying the building had been a complex process involving a number of legal and ownership issues.

He said that if the council approves its plans the company intends to start work next year. Ian Springford has been appointed architect for the project.

Interview: Daryl Teague, Glencairn Properties

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