War memorial service outside the Bradford Cinema, Cumbernauld, around 1941-1964. Kind permission of Jim Walker War memorial service outside the Bradford Cinema, Cumbernauld, around 1941-1964. Kind permission of Jim Walker

Getting To Know You…

CultureNL’s curators were tasked with many diverse duties during the website development phase. As well as identifying and locating objects for digitisation we’ve been updating our collections management database, selecting star items and writing stories to reflect North Lanarkshire’s rich social and industrial heritage.

We want to make sure the information we publish is accurate, so research formed an important part of our project. I’ve dipped into reference books, cross-referenced online resources, listened to oral history interviews, consulted colleagues in NL Archives and sought advice from subject specialists. Best of all has been the gift of knowledge from you, the people of North Lanarkshire!

Talking About the Pictures

Since inventorying Summerlee’s cinema collection I’ve been fascinated with North Lanarkshire’s cinema heritage. I’ve given talks on the subject to clubs and societies across Lanarkshire and each time I meet a new group I come away with an anecdote or snippet of local cinema history.

I’ve been gifted some real gems while working on this project! For instance, Kilsyth’s cinemas opened several decades earlier than I had realised. I’d found only archival references to the Pavilion and King’s during the 1960s but a Kilsyth resident revealed that silent films had in fact been shown in both cinemas, dating them to around the 1920s.

Similarly, I knew the Bradford Cinema was housed in the old Baird U.P. Church building. I also thought the rather mysterious Rio was located nearby. I then met a Cumbernauld resident who put me right! It turns out that the town’s first cinema was the Picture House, which opened in 1926. It was renamed the Bradford during the Second World War and finally became the Rio in the 1960s.

Police Investigations

Another theme I researched for the website was Lanarkshire Constabulary. I was able to glean a lot of information from the Lanarkshire Police Historical Society website but when I came to write my stories I still had several gaps and questions.

At this point I was lucky enough to meet a former police officer with an enthusiasm for local history. When she organised research visits to view artefacts at Summerlee and the Heritage Centre, little did I know that we would make some exciting discoveries.

Some objects told a more important tale about the history of North Lanarkshire’s police forces than we had appreciated.  We were able to connect a set of die stamps to a document our intrepid researcher had seen in NL Archives. This indicated that the dies were produced for the formation of Coatbridge Burgh Police around 1894.

Likewise, a belt buckle took on a new dimension when it materialised that it was a memento from the “force that never was” (Intrigued? Read the story of Motherwell & Wishaw Burgh Police). Buoyed by these findings, our researcher emailed with more invaluable information, tying up some loose ends and helping me to write a story about North Lanarkshire’s first females in the forces.

These are just a few examples showing how our knowledge about the collections is frequently changing and improving. So, people of North Lanarkshire – THANK YOU for helping us get to know all about you and your history!

About the Author

Jenny standing beside the cinema display at Summerlee

Jenny Noble

Jenny Noble has been the Social History Curator at CultureNL (formerly North Lanarkshire Council) since 2009.