DEMOLITION of the famous former La Scala site began last week with plans for a new £5 million Clydebank homes development.

One of the few buildings to survive the Clydebank Blitz and the place where many Bankie couples discovered each other, it has been derelict for some years.

The property in Graham Avenue – later a Gala Bingo – had its demolition recently approved and will take three months.

Residents said it was sad to see an end to a building that brought everything from romance to employment to ghosts.

Christine Easton, who recently marked her golden wedding anniversary, met her future husband at La Scala and worked there for four years in the early 1960s.

She did everything from cashier to having the spotlight on her as she sold ice cream down front of the picture hall.

“It was a great place,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of good memories. It’s a sad day that it’s coming down – that’s where my romance blossomed.” Anne Gilchrist, 53, worked at La Scala when it was a Gala bingo hall and said it could be scary place at night, once running from the building when the four staff heard knocking from below the stage. She said: “Everyone spoke of the grey lady that walked about. Sometimes we would see shadows in the middle of the hall near the stairs and customers would always say that that part of the building was always cold, even in the lovely summer days and nights.

“It’s said that she went looking for her wee boy that was taken there in the Blitz and floated between the bingo and crucible looking for him.

“The crucible was also very eerie, loads of activity about there too. The third floor was always very, very cold. Wish I could get in for one more look before they pulled it down. I have great memories of the Gala and made friends that I still keep in touch with.” Councillor Denis Agnew said he too was sad to see the building coming down.

He would go in himself with other children, queuing right up Graham Avenue, waiting to get in for the Saturday morning ABC Minors club, usually to catch a cowboy film.

Cllr Agnew said: “La Scala was in the middle of this area. It was the place to go if you had the money. It was a significant building and a high quality one.

“But inside there were issues of fire raising and infestation of rodents and many people would like to see it removed. It would be great if they retained even part of it. It’s sad to see it go. La Scala has probably outlived its usefulness. The new homes will refresh the area.”

Clydebank Housing Association (CHA) has put in a planning application for 44 housing unites for affordable rent, including 20 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom flats, as well as four two-bedroom wheelchair adapted flats.

Funding will come from private finance from CHA and the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Investment Programme.

CHA said the homes will be “extremely energy efficient” and building is hoped to start in the summer.

Tom Winter, chairman of CHA said, “We are delighted that both West Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government have prioritised and committed to funding this development in its 2016/17 programme. 

“With over 700 applicants on our housing list alone, these homes will be a much-needed addition to our affordable rented stock. This is our first development opportunity since 2008 and we are sure our proposals will complement the council’s ongoing regeneration of the surrounding area for the benefit of the community.”

l Do you have memories of La Scala? Send us your memories and photos for a special feature in next week’s paper to or call Tristan on 0141 435 8840.