As the urban populations of Scotland exploded through the 19th century, so there followed a parallel growth of urban building and this included a host of theatres and music venues. These ranged from the grandest of Theatres Royal to the most utilitarian of working-class music halls and, at the end of the period, luxuriously appointed variety theatres and mode-ish cinemas.
In Glasgow building grew up and out of the High Street and Saltmarket areas of the city. In Edinburgh the building pattern was more diffuse. In the smaller towns building was similarly diverse. Across the country the demand for entertainment led to significant investment and building by individual entrepreneurs and major businesses such as Moss Empires, and Howard & Wyndhams. Theatres from this period are still in use and they remain a vibrant part of the modern entertainment scene. In Glasgow they include the Citizens' Theatre (1878), the Theatre Royal (C M Phipps, 1879 – when an earlier building was destroyed by fire), and the King's (Frank Matcham, 1904.)
Theatres from the period that are now lost include two fabled Glasgow venues. The Alhambra, built in 1910, closed in 1969 and demolished in 1971, was home of the Five Past Eight variety shows and the Wish for Jamie pantomimes while the Matcham-designed Empire, much mythologised as the "graveyard" of English comics, was built in 1897 and closed in 1963. The Britannia Music Hall, also known as the Panopticon, was opened as a performance place in 1859 having been converted from a commercial warehouse. It fell out of use in the 1930s and is now in need of major renovation.
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