Robert Calder

Robert Calder had been a ploughman, a joiner and a Church beadle in Aberdeenshire, before becoming a limelight lantern showman. He made the transition to cinematographist as an assistant for Lizars' early shows in Aberdeen. He formed his own touring party in 1896, and, like William Walker, developed a local circuit in and around Aberdeen before expanding to other localities. He brought the first cinematograph exhibition to Shetland, appearing at the Lerwick Town Hall in May 1897. With his Famous Cinematograph and Pictorial Concert Party he returns to Shetland twice a year in Spring and late Summer every year till 1910, showing films of, for instance, the Transvaal War, the funeral of Queen Victoria, the Russo-Japanese War, the Messina Earthquake and the Paris Exhibition. He appears in the Campbeltown Victoria Hall in January 1899, in the Bo'ness Town Hall in February 1899 and in the Argyllshire Gathering Hall in Oban in April 1900. With his exhibition and concert party, he returns regularly to Campbeltown and Bo'ness till 1908, travels to Wick and Thurso, appears in Motherwell and in the St Andrews Halls in Glasgow, and has regular exhibitions and concerts in Aberdeen, Dundee and the surrounding area throughout the 1900s. He seems to have decided quite quickly, however, that Oban was not a good market and does not return after his first visit. His Concert Party included Scott Skinner, the famous Aberdeenshire dance master, composer and fiddle player, singers such as George Wallace and Jessie McLaughlin, comedians like Harry Gordon, and, from 1905, the Jubilee Singers '(Coloured Gentlemen from Fisk University, Tennessee) in their Unique and Refined Entertainment'. His shows included pantomimes such a 'Little Red Riding Hood' and sketches such as 'The Suffragettes', 'which created much mirth'. His Cinematograph and Concert Company seems to have stopped touring around 1910, and in 1912, he went to Fraserburgh to manage a cinema, before finally returning to his early craft of jobbing joiner. He died in 1928 at the age of 77.

Source: Griffiths, Trevor. The Cinema and Cinemagoing in Scotland, 1896-1950. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. p. 22.
Aberdeen Press & Journal, 29.08.1928; obituary