By Ian McConnell

The Playhouse building in Ayr, described as “one of the last and best-surviving” creations of architect John Fairweather and now home to a Mecca bingo hall, has been sold at auction to a private investor for £432,500.

This is well in excess of a guide price of £375,000 in a sale hailed by commercial investment property auctioneer Acuitus as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

Mhairi Archibald of Acuitus, following the sale of the Playhouse building, highlighted increased interest from private investors in opportunities across Scotland as “consumer and occupier confidence returns”.

The property, adjacent to Ayr bus station, has been a bingo hall for the last two decades.

Acuitus has noted the property is on the site of the former Boswell Park roller-skating rink, which was established in 1911. This property was converted by George Green in 1914 into the 2,000-seat Boswell Park Pavilion Cinema, which was demolished after the First World War.

A new cinema with a capacity of 1,700 named the Playhouse was built for George Green in 1923 by Mr Fairweather but it was destroyed by fire. Mr Fairweather then designed the Ayr Playhouse, the current building.

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The venue opened on July 8, 1931 and, with 3,104 seats, was the third-largest cinema to be built in Scotland. Acuitus has noted the “only other cinema of this scale to survive in Scotland is Fairweather’s Edinburgh Playhouse”.

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Ms Archibald said Acuitus was “delighted” with the result of Wednesday’s auction. She said: “As the vaccine roll-out continues and restrictions ease, private investors are increasingly looking at opportunities across Scotland as consumer and occupier confidence returns. All of the Scottish lots offered sold well, with the Mecca Bingo building comfortably exceeding its guide price – demonstrating the strength of the retail and leisure sector when assets are correctly priced.”

The 35,187 sq ft, B-listed property at 4 Boswell Park, which produces an annual rent of £166,498, is occupied by Mecca Bingo on an extended lease until 2026.

Last week, ahead of the auction, Ms Archibald had said of the Playhouse building in Ayr: “This is an extremely rare find. Fairweather’s Playhouse designs are renowned across Scotland. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own one of the last remaining buildings.”

The property currently comprises a reception area, gaming hall, and ancillary and office accommodation over the ground and first floors.

Neighbouring occupiers include Cooperative Food and The West Kirk, a JD Wetherspoon public house.