The Britannia Panopticon is the world’s oldest surviving music hall and has survived several wars, strikes, social change and pandemics. It is famous for the stage debuts of Stan Laurel and Jack Buchanan. As an ongoing conservation project, the auditorium is peeling, and layered with the history of the working-class men, women and children that made Glasgow the “workshop of the world”.
Music Halls were not theatres, they were places of variety, current affairs, education and a platform for campaigns and movements from strikes to temperance.
Over the decades, technology changed, and Britannia followed the trends adding electricity and animated pictures in the 1896, an attic carnival, waxworks, and Freak show in 1906 and a zoo with hall of mirrors and art gallery in 1908. This variety of entertainments from basement to attic led to the change of name to Panopticon (Pan – everything, Opti – to see) as you could see all of the entertainments for the one ticket price.
By the end of the 19th century the Britannia had outlived every other music hall in Glasgow, due in part to the amount of urine that saturated the building and prevented it from burning down like the majority of its contemporaries.
Tour Saturday & Sunday @ 11am, 11:30am, 12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:30PM, 4pm, 4:30pm – Booking essential
Tour duration: 30 mins