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Story of The Britannia Music Hall -The Oldest surviving Music Hall in Britain

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(The oldest surviving music hall in Britain)

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a young man called Stan went to Britannia Panopticon to tell a joke or two. That young man grew up to be one half of the most famous comedy duo in cinema history; Laurel and Hardy.

Stan Laurel has gone, but the Britannia music hall still exists on Glasgow's Trongate.

Since the time that this little hall opened on Glasgow's Trongate it has captured the hearts and imaginations of the visiting public.  Over the years Britannia changed name and ownership many times, being known as "Campbell's Music Saloon", "Hubner's Cinematograph", the "Tron Cinema" and most famously the "Panopticon".

By 1880 Britannia had become known as "Pre-eminently the most popular place of amusement" and in 1896 the first moving pictures enthralled the Britannia audience.  During this time that meant one could see anything from a musical performance to an entertainers on a unicycles in the same building during Pickard's management.

In 1906, a young man named Albert Earnest Pickard took over the running of the music hall and renamed it "Panopticon". Pickard was a man of diverse taste. Between 1906 and 1938 the building housed not Just music hall and cinema entertainment, but also freak shows, waxworks, carnival and zoo.

But it was in 1906 that Pickard allowed a young Stanley Arthur Jefferson to make his debut. In later years this young performer changed his name to Stan Laurel and is today one of the best known comedians of all time. 

Best known for being part of the famous comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy, comedians who traveled the world making movies and earning laughs from Britain to all inclusive resorts in Mexico to the USA. Laurel filmed movies and performed in all different locations, from hotel Cancun in Mexico to the Music Hall in Britain, and is without a doubt one of the best comedians to ever grace the stage.

Although famed for the entertainments, Britannia's stage has also been used as a platform for many social & political issues from the Temperance movement to the trade unions.

Alas, in the wake of modern cinema buildings and the depression of the 1930's, the Britannia Panopticon closed. Since 1938 the auditorium has lain silent, but intact.

Panopticon" was founded to support the work of the "Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust" (est.1998). The work of these two charitable bodies is dedicated to the future restoration and re-opening of what is regarded as one of the rarest theatre buildings in Britain.  You can help preserve this valuable piece of social, theatre and cinema history by becoming a Friend of Britannia Panopticon

How to Become a Friend

As a Friend, your subscription or donation will be valuable in furthering the campaign. Your help and support will help to ensure that this little auditorium will survive for future generations to enjoy as a museum of popular entertainments, visitor attraction & place of pilgrimage for fans of Stan Laurel, Jack Buchanan and Harry Lauder.

In exchange for your support, you will receive a bi-annual newsletter and information about any events, exhibitions, talks and publications on offer.

I would like to become a Friend of Britannia Panopticon

(Please tick relevant box)

[    ] Friend 15 PA

[    ] Life Friend 250

[    ] Life Friend (65+) 150




To join the Friends, send your it with your subscription to:

Judith Bowers
Britannia Panopticon Music Hall

113-117 Trongate
Glasgow G1 5HD

Telephone  00 44(0)141 5530840


Donations are also gratefully received. If you require a receipt for your donation please write to Judith Bowers.
Payment can be made by cheque or postal order, payable to "Friends of Britannia Panopticon". Please do not post cash. For International Friends and corporate membership please contact Judith.




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