Matt Steele, Scottish Architect, Bo’ness Architecture, Works, Hippodrome, Houses

Matt Steele, Architect, Scotland

Scottish Architecture, UK – Bo’ness Buildings

post updated 26 Apr 2021

Matt Steele Architect – Key Projects

Major “Undiscovered” Scottish Architectural Hero Celebrated in his Home Town

The architect, Matt Steele (1878 – 1937), will be celebrated in an important new publication and a conference in his home town of Bo’ness on Thursday 7th October 2010.

Matt Steele, architect, was an interpreter, innovator, creator, avid motorist and obsessively bad golfer. He lived through a period of enormous change in social structure, in commerce, in technology and in architectural design. He was not simply a passive bystander but, in his architecture and in his home town of Bo’ness, an agent of that change.

Bo’ness Hippodrome, Scotland:
Bo’ness Hippodrome, Scotland design by Matt Steele Scottish Architect
photo : Stinglehammer, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

His most important buildings include the Hippodrome, Scotland’s first purpose built cinema, recently superbly refurbished by the Scottish Buildings Trust and Falkirk Council, and a number of houses and office buildings in Bo’ness and large houses in Edinburgh, many of which have already been recognised and Listed by Historic Scotland.

The new publication, by Roger Emmerson and Mary Tilmouth looks at Steele’s extraordinary creativity in the context of his time, a period of unprecedented upheaval and social change. Over three decades, and four distant phases, Matt Steele made a significant and lasting impression on Bo’ness, contributing a rich and diverse architectural legacy. Steele worked at a time of great transition, from the financial crisis of 1907, through the First World War to the lean years of the Thirties.

Commenting on the launch of the new publication about the Hippodrome’s architect, Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Convener of Leisure, Tourism and Community, said: “Matt Steele is a significant name to the people of Bo’ness, thanks to the fine array of memorable buildings he designed for his home town, including the Hippodrome Cinema.

“Until the publication of this important new book, however, his name was largely forgotten elsewhere. Now, thanks to the authors, Roger Emmerson and Mary Tilmouth, Matt Steele has been restored to his rightful place in the list of architects who made a vital contribution to the advance of modern architecture in 20th century Scotland.

“Falkirk Council is both delighted and honoured that The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland chose the Hippodrome, Matt’s Steele most famous building and a beloved part of the Bo’ness heritage, to launch the book.”

The redevelopment of the Hippodrome Cinema was a key project in Falkirk Council’s Town Centres Regeneration Strategy, a key strand of the My Future’s in Falkirk economic development initiative, and forms a central part of the £5 million Townscape Heritage Initiative to restore significant buildings within the attractive historical town centre of Bo’ness.

Note: The £1.95m initial Hippodrome restoration programme was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Falkirk Council through the Townscape Heritage Initiative, Historic Scotland, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Falkirk Environment Trust and the Manifold Trust.

For further information re Matt Steele:
Neil Baxter, Secretary & Treasurer, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland – nbaxter@rias.org.uk

Location: Bo’ness, Scotland

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photograph © Daniel Lomholt-Welch
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image courtesy of architects office
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Buildings / photos for the Matt Steele Architect page welcome