113 Trongate, Glasgow. G1 5HD.
Britannia Vaults. 1880s.
The Britannia Music Hall (The Panopticon) in Trongate, Glasgow, is the oldest surviving music hall in the world.
Built in 1857 by Thomas Gildard and HM McFarlane, it has hosted some of the biggest names on the Music hall circuit.
In 1906 Stan Laurel made his first stage appearance there on amateur night. In that same year A E Pickard bought the building and changed its name to the Panopticon. He also undertook some major works, installing a freak show, a roof top carnival and a waxworks. He also excavated the basement and installed an indoor zoo.
The Panopticon was one of the first buildings in Glasgow become powered by electricity and one of the first cinemas in Scotland. It closed in 1938 when it was sold to a tailors and converted to a workshop. It is currently being conserved by a trust who regularly perform traditional shows in the auditorium. It is now protected as a category A listed building.
The Britannia Vaults was situated at 113 Trongate and 2 New Wynd. One of the earliest licensees’ was John Graham who was landlord in 1858.
When Gildard & McFarlanes’ theatre first opened it appears to have been called Willie Campbell’s Singing Saloon, within a few months John Brand took over and renamed it the Britannia Music Hall.
Before the Britannia was built there was licensed premises on this site and in 1847 John Couper Spirit Merchant was trading at 113-115 Trongate, he also ran a public house at 17 McAlpine Street / 6 William Street, Glasgow.
Britannia Music Hall. 1857-1938. Also known as the Panopticon.
Robert Hillcoat a well-known Wine & Spirit Merchant in town was approached by Albert Ernest Prichard (Panopticon,) he needed to find more space and beneath the pub on the ground floor. Prichard and Hillcoat after months of excavation it was ready to open 4th May 1908. The pub had iron cages with birds, reptiles and curios to attract customers the the Panoptican.
The Britannia Public House Licensees’…
John Couper. 1847.
John Graham. 1858.
Robert Hillcoat. 1875.
William Hillcoat. 1899.
Archibald Bulloch Hillcoat. 1902.
George Burden (trustee for the late A B Hillcoat) trading as Robert Hillcoat & Sons. 1925.
Other Trongate public houses…
1837. William Naismith (Britannia the). 80 Trongate.
1843. Mrs A Hendry. 80 Trongate. (Britannia)
1846. Christiana Henry. 80 Trongate. (Britannia)
Bush, 80 Trongate, Robert Smith. 1846.
The Castle, 80 Trongate, John Kinloch, 1846.
Jenny Dean’s, 80 Trongate, Matthew Algie, 1846.
McVey’s Tavern, 80 Trongate, Bernard McVey, 1846.
Salutation, 80 Trongate, Thomas Seton, 1846.
Perth Arms, 80 Trongate, Hector Stephen, 1842.
The Union, 80 Trongate, Alexander McLennan, 1837.
Do you have anything to say about the Britannia? If so please leave a comment.