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The Metropole Theatre, 116, Stockwell Street, Glasgow

Formerly - The Scotia Music Hall / The Scotia Variety Theatre

The Scotia Music Hall - The Metropole Theatre

See also - Jimmy Logan's New Metropole Theatre, 217 St. Georges Road, Glasgow

Glasgow Index

A drawing of the East Elevation of the Scotia Music Hall, Glasgow in the 1860s - Courtesy Graeme Smith

Above - A drawing of the East Elevation of the Scotia Music Hall, Glasgow in the 1860s - Courtesy Graeme Smith who says: - ' This was the front of the SCOTIA HALL, Stockwell Street, Glasgow as built for and operated by James and Christina Baylis , pioneers of music hall, from 1862, and founders of the Theatre Royal, Hope Street in 1867.

 

Auditorium of the Scotia Variety Theatre, Glasgow  in 1890 - Courtesy Graeme Smith James Baylis, who ran the Milton Colosseum Music Hall at Cowcaddens Cross, built and opened his new three storied, very large SCOTIA HALL in Stockwell Street near the River Clyde to the designs of the architect Robert Black.

The Scotia Hall opened on 29th December 1862. The ground was bought and building erected all in one year. It was the first purpose built Music Hall in the city and could accommodate around 4000 people, many times more than the nearby Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street.

The record in the Scotia was on the evening of 1st November 1865 when the Prime Minister-to-be William Gladstone MP addressed an audience of 5000, mainly working men, on the day he received the Freedom of the City of Glasgow.

James Baylis died relatively young and was succeeded by his wife Christina Baylis who became the matriarch of variety in the 19th century. The Baylis family continued to own the Theatre Royal Hope Street for ten years.

Following a fire the Scotia was rebuilt in 1875, designed by the architects Campbell Douglas and James Sellars, known as the Scotia Variety Theatre and still the largest in Scotland.

Right - The Auditorium of the Scotia Variety Theatre, Glasgow in 1890 - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

On her retiral Mrs Christina Baylis, widow of James Baylis, had sold the theatre to H. E. Moss and Richard Thornton in 1892 who continued variety at the Scotia as part of the growing Moss Empires group until they opened their new Empire Palace in Sauchiehall Street five years later.

On her passing in the 1890s the newspapers remarked: 'It was the ability and enterprise of James Baylis and of Mrs Baylis that the townsfolk of Glasgow during the past generation have been chiefly indebted for healthy music hall recreation. Many of us recollect the early days, or rather nights, of the Scotia. In that glittering temple, to the tune of blithesome music, our eyes would eagerly follow the movements of the young sylphides of the corps de ballet in such gorgeous spectacles as "The White Dove", "Scotland and her Shires", "The Gathering of the Clans", and "As Good as a Pantomime".'

 

A rare programme from 1869 showing the Scotia`s interior with its stalls and two balconies - Courtesy Graeme Smith

Above - A rare programme from 1869 showing the Scotia`s interior with its stalls and two balconies - Courtesy Graeme Smith

 

A cartoon from 'Quiz' of Feb 1895 showing the food being served at midday at the Gaiety (Sauchiehall Street) and at the Scotia (Stockwell Street) - Courtesy Graeme Smith.Programme for the Metropole Theatre - Undated but believed to be mid 1940sIn the winter of 1894/95 unemployment among the working class was high and a severe winter made things worse, causing a huge demand for food and coal for the poor. Relief Funds were started and among those who helped were Moss & Thornton owners of the Gaiety and Scotia Variety Theatres.

Left - A Programme for the Metropole Theatre - Undated but believed to be mid 1940s.

Right - A cartoon from 'Quiz' of Feb 1895 showing the food being served at midday at the Gaiety (Sauchiehall Street) and at the Scotia (Stockwell Street) - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

The North British Daily Mail reports on 12 February 1895:- '"W H Howard and Richie Thom, the managers of the Gaiety and Scotia, are opening soup kitchens at both houses with the intention to supply soup and bread to from eight hundred to one thousand poor persons per week. Subscription boxes are to be placed in prominent parts of both houses, and they are confident their patrons will give a liberal response. Councillor Angus Campbell has consented to become treasurer, and the allocation of tickets is to be entrusted to magistrates, councillors, police officials, clergy of all denominations, and other responsible persons. We may mention that the large dressing rooms at both the Scotia and Gaiety will be specially fitted up for these free dinners. Those to whom tickets are given are asked to take cans to hold the soup.' - The North British Daily Mail 12th February 1895.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the Scotia, Glasgow in 1886, 1887, and 1890.

 

The Scotia was restyled for Moss Empires in 1897 by the Newcastle architects Joseph Charlton Maxwell and William Hope, when it was leased to H. H. Morrell and F. Mouillot who named it The Metropole and presented plays, usually melodramas. An 1899 example of the Glasgow Metropole melodrama cover can be seen here in The Glasgow Story site. Successive lessees included Arthur Jefferson who reintroduced variety.

Alex Frutin escorts Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Scottish Variety Show in the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow in July 1958 - Courtesy Graeme Smith.Programme for the Metropole Theatre 1945/46 Season.In 1926 the theatre was sold to Bernard Frutin who was expanding his chain of cinemas and theatres. (With the sale proceeds Moss Empire Ltd bought shares in the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow.) The Frutins presented variety shows, summer shows, and winter shows. Supported by his two sons, most notably Alex Frutin, the theatre packed in the crowds for almost four decades.

Right - Alex Frutin escorts Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Scottish Variety Show in the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow in July 1958 - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

Left - A Programme for the Metropole Theatre 1945/46 Season.

Great favourites included Tommy Morgan, the family of Jack Short – including Jimmy Logan – Jack Radcliffe, Renee Houston, Grace Clark and Colin Murray, with the Moxon Young Ladies as the favourite dancers.

A two-minute cinema advert for the variety show "Tartan Galore" at the Metropole Theatre, Stockwell Street, Glasgow around 1934 can be viewed here. A Glasgow Metropole Programme cover for The Logan Family Summer Show of 1949 can be viewed here in The Glasgow Story.

 

“Memories of Jolson” Touring press photo of Shirley Bassey, 1953 - Courtesy the Frutin family.A Glasgow Metropole programme for “Memories of Jolson” in November 1953 - Courtesy The Frutin family.Touring shows included “Memories of Jolson” which arrived from Liverpool in 1953 with an all black cast and had a 16 year old singer in her first professional tour. This was Shirley Bassey from Cardiff, and at least one reviewer commented that she had a promising future.

Left - “Memories of Jolson” Touring press photo of Shirley Bassey, 1953 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

Right - A Glasgow Metropole programme for “Memories of Jolson” in November 1953 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

The November 1953 programme is shown right and below, and a press photo was issued of her to accompany the tour shown above left.

Alex Frutin was highly regarded in showbusiness circles and became President of The Scottish Theatrical and Variety Artists` Benevolent Fund, for which the first Royal Scottish Variety Show was staged in the Alhambra Theatre in 1958.

 

A Glasgow Metropole programme for “Memories of Jolson” in November 1953 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

Above - A Glasgow Metropole programme for “Memories of Jolson” in November 1953 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

 

A photograph of the Glasgow Metropole auditorium with audience in December 1954 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

Above - A photograph of the Glasgow Metropole auditorium with audience in December 1954 - Courtesy The Frutin family.

 

The Metropole Theatre, formerly Scotia Music Hall, after the fire in 1962 - from the book 'Glasgow since 1900' Archive publications.Fire destroyed the Metropole building on 28 October 1961. Alex Frutin instructed plans to be drawn up for a modern replacement on the site, to the designs of architect Lennox Paterson. Dean of Guild approval was obtained but it was not built. Instead Frutin bought the former Empress Theatre building in 1962 in St George`s Cross in the West End of the city, which in 1960 had been renamed The Falcon Theatre. The St George`s Cross building now opened as the New Metropole, and within two years became Jimmy Logan`s New Metropole.

Right - The Metropole Theatre, formerly Scotia Music Hall, after the fire in 1962 - From the book 'Glasgow since 1900' Archive publications.

The above text was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on the site in 2014, and is, in part, from his book 'THE THEATRE ROYAL: Entertaining a Nation', Details here.

A Programme and some details for the Scotia Variety Theatre can be seen here.

Stan Laurel's father, Arthur Jefferson, once managed the Metropole Theatre and put on his, and Stan's play, "Home From the Honeymoon" there. Stan briefly played one of the hobos in the play which eventually formed the basis of two Laurel and Hardy films; one silent "Duck Soup"; and the other a talkie "Another Fine Mess" in 1930. This information kindly sent in by Lesley Phillips.