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Bute Gateway Gallery: main > Heritage > discoverycentre >

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The Isle of Bute Discovery Centre, formerly the Winter Garden, and set in the centre of Rothesay’s splendid Esplanade Gardens, is a Category "A" Listed Building. Since its restoration and re-opening in 2001, the Centre showcases the many and varied attractions of the island, using a mix of multimedia, games, and graphics. It is also home to a new Genealogy Centre, operated by the Sons & Daughters of Bute. The refurbished and extended luxury 90-seat Discovery Theatre, used for a variety of events, shows the latest film releases nightly in air conditioned comfort.

The Winter Garden was pre-fabricated in Glasgow at the Saracen Foundry of Walter MacFarlane & Co. and erected at a cost of £1500 on its present site during 1923-4 by Brodie & Co. under the direction of Rothesay’s Burgh Engineer, Alexander Stephen. A domed circular structure, the roof of which is supported by sixteen tapering steel portal ribs resembling the spokes of a giant umbrella, it has a bowed entrance loggia flanked by pagoda-roofed square towers. To the rear (shoreside) it had an octagonal Victorian Bandstand skilfully absorbed into its design.

This grand structure was intended to, and did, accommodate top-ranking variety shows (in the summer months), and performances of amateur drama societies in the winter and spring months. As regards the latter in the 1930’s, it was not uncommon to have a whole week of performances. Among stars who gained fame from performances in the early days are the following: Harry Lauder, Jack Anthony, Clark & Murray, Tommy Morgan, etc., while more recent names include Jimmy Logan and Johnny Beattie.

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