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Search for lost southside film

 

GLASGOW has been the set for a number of recent blockbusters — but it seems that Giffnock was the original movieland.

The short-lived Rouken Glen Studio made its only hit in 1911 with a silent film version of a Walter Scott novel.

Directed by Arthur Vivian for producer James Bowie, Rob Roy was Scotland’s first feature film.

The black and white production was filmed almost entirely in Rouken Glen park, as well as an on-location trip to Aberfoyle.

The studio was founded by William John Brendon and housed in a tram depot, with its power supply still running from the tramway power station — meaning that a passing tram would cause the light to fade, and more than one would shut production down entirely.

And star of the show was Helensburgh-born actor John Clyde, who would later find fame playing the same part on stage.

However, the film company filed for bankrupcy the following year — and the Rob Roy reels can no longer be found, with the Scottish Screen Archive listing the footage as “missing, believed lost”.

It seems that even those who know the park inside out have never heard of the film, as Friends of Rouken Glen Park have no knowledge of it — however, chairman Gerald Levin told The Extra: “The emergence of details like the making of silent films only adds to the rich tapestry of this beautiful and popular park’s history”.

A century later, East Renfrewshire council set out to find out more about the lost print, launching a #findRobRoy Twitter campaign in December 2011.

No one has come forward with information — but there is still hope to hear from residents who can shed some light on the mysterious missing film.

Of course, Rob Roy isn’t the only example of a southside location gracing the silver screen.

The Ace Film Producing Company made just one feature — 1919’s The Harp King — from the same studio, no less.

And in recent years, Ken Loach shot in Pollokshields for Ae Fond Kiss (2004), while Peter Mullan chose Cardonald for last year’s Neds.

The Extra has also featured southside films, including two silent pictures – The Tenement Ghost by Thomas Cochrane and The Swashbuckling Scoundrel, by Paul Darroch.

 

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