Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seeing everything

It was Doors Open Day in Glasgow at the weekend, and this year I was busy on Saturday (singing at a wedding in Stirling where the bride was almost 45 minutes late!) and decided not to bother with much on the Sunday, but the one thing I went to see was well worth it.  The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall in Trongate is the oldest surviving music hall in Britain and possibly the world, they say, and although in a state of disrepair, to say the least, you can still get a sense of what it must have been like.

The photo above is taken from the stage looking out.  In its day, which ranged from 1857 to 1938, that stage played host to many of the big stars of the time such as Dan Leno, Harry Lauder, Marie Loftus, Charles Coburn, Harry Champion and W. F. Frame and in 1906 saw the stage debut of sixteen year Arthur Stanley Jefferson who was the son of the theatre manager.  So what, you say.  Well young Arthur was later to be more famously known as Stan Laurel

So for the Stan Laurel link alone it's an historically significant building, and it's well worth a visit on one of their occasional open days.As well as the site linked to above, they have a Myspace site which I haven't looked at properly yet but may be worth a visit.

In addition to the acts on stage the attic was converted in 1906 to a waxworks, carnival and freak show, and the basement contained a zoo.  So when you add 1500 working class men straight from work into the equation, the term "the roar of the greasepaint and smell of the crowd" doesn't seem quite so silly!

They have a long way to go in the renovation, but I suspect they'll get there, if the enthusiasm of the volunteer guides is anything to go by.

Oh, and the title of this post is from the translation of the Greek word Panopticon:

Pan = everything, Optika = to see


  1. Wow ! I didn't know this could be visited, nor did I know they were running any sort of shows - BRILLIANT ! Thank you, LC.

  2. It can be visited occasionally when they open to the public but I'm not sure when or how often that happens, and no they aren't running any shows nowadays as far as I know, and apologies if I inadvertantly gave that impression.

    Check out their website which may give details of when access is available.