Dingwall History

Mr Sestilio ("Joe") Simonelli at the front of Morganti and Simonelli's shop, on High Street, in 1923.  This was formerly the Post Office (note clock) and was adjacent to the Masonic Hall, later The Picture House.  [Photo DMT]

Side view of the entrance to the Masonic Hall in May 1899 on the occasion of the granting of the Freedom of Dingwall to Sir Hector Macdonald. [Photo RCHS]

Photo showing the origins of the Masonic Hall aka 'The Picture House' in later years.  The flags are not celebrating the demolition of the building, but as in the 1899 photo, show that Dingwall "dresses up" on important occasions - in the case of 2019, Dingwall Gala Week!  [Photo E Sinclair] 

Dingwall Picture House

Morganti's and The Picture House (formerly the Masonic Hall)

Morganti's was owned by the Morganti and Simonelli families who came to Scotland following the First World War and quickly established their restaurant in premises originally occupied by the Post Office.  This  became a popular venue, noted for its ice cream and excellent cuisine.  A second, smaller, shop (known locally as Little Morganti's) was situated on High Street but was demolished when Boots the Chemist was built.

During the duration of the Second World War the families (now described as "enemy aliens", although few in Dingwall regarded them as such) were interned in Largs and administration of their business was carried our by local chartered accountant Mr C G Macdowall.

Following the War, the families returned to Dingwall and continued to trade well into old age.

'The Picture House' began life as a Masonic Hall, the foundation stone being laid on 3 October 1870 and the building opened on 17 April 1871.  It continued to fulfil its function but the owners generously allowed the population to use it for important occasions (see photo opposite) and social occasions, such as concerts and ceilidhs, until the Town Hall was enlarged.

A new Masonic Lodge was built at the west end of Dingwall and, following the First World War, the building was sold to Lady Seaforth. In the early 1930s it was sold again and, on 31 August 1931 'The Picture House' opened and continued to entertain generations of local folk until it closed early in the 1970s.  It has had a chequered career since then, mainly as a bar and disco venue.

In November 2018 it was announced that the site had been acquired by a developer intending to convert it into 17 flats as well as refurbishing the existing retail premises, and in the summer of 2019 demolition began.

The front of Morganti's.  The site of the original post office clock is clearly visible.  [Photo RCHS]

Demolition uncovered the faded sign, above the clock, proclaiming what Morganti's had to offer - Refreshments - Saloons - Confections   [Photo:  E Sinclair]

An enlargement of the Masonic plaque.  [Photo:  E Sinclair]

The Picture House   [Photo:  E Sinclair]

Moving to the rear of The Picture House where demolition continues.  [Photo RCHS]

Photos above (5) courtesy of E Sinclair.

As demolition progressed, Anagar Vinke, a woodturner living in Fodderty, acquired a beam from the site and proceeded to convert the wood into souvenirs of the Picture House.  One of these, a candle holder,  is shown below.

Photo:  RCHS
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