Paisley had many cinemas in its hay day. One of the most popular was the La Scala. It was built in 1921 on the High Street and had all the latest architectural of its day. Adorned with black and white marble pillars on the front of the building. The cinema itself was set back from the road, and rose from behind the foyer. The large windows on the first floor hinted that a luxurious restaurant hid behind the glass. In the early 30s and 40s, lunch and afternoon tea proved popular, despite fierce competition from Gibson’s attractive tearoom across the street.
In the 50s, the speciality of the cinema’s restaurant was “High Tea”. Usually consisting of classics like haddock and chips, sausage and chips or egg and chips. And chips would be covered in one of La Scala’s restaurants specialities… mayonnaise! The people of Paisley would go to great lengths to try and obtain the recipe for La Scala’s mayonnaise. Three-tiered cake stands stood sentinel in the center of tables, displaying a variety of cakes to buy.
Saturday Nights at the La Scala
On a Saturday night at the movies, children and parents could enjoy some Stevenson’s lemonade, “Seetu” creamy toffees or Filshill’s Paisley Patten boilings, all made in Paisley. on Saturday nights the queues formed in the foyer. Where a brown uniformed commissionaire, with a gold-braided cap and ornamental shoulder pieces. Would marshal the crowds into order.
Quite often, the queue would spill over into the High Street and all the way down St. Mirren Brae. Some nights it was near impossible to get into the cinema. No real problem as one quick dash by foot or tram and you could visit one of Paisley’s other cinemas like the Picture House, Regal, Kelburne, Astoria, Palladium and West End.
Source: Golden Threads author David Rowan
From the Heritage Centre collection @Paisley Central Library.
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