Taking a Look at the Britannia Panopticon

771 WordsFeb 20, 20183 Pages
"The Britannia Panopticon is not the sort of heritage you walk about gazing at while thinking, 'Isn't that pretty'," admitted the music hall’s preservation director Judith Bowers. She claims that a truly restored Panopticon would have to reflect its thousand-strong poor and even “rough” audience, paying tribute to the folk who frequented the theatre over its long history. The Panopticon was built in 1857 on the site of an old warehouse by the partnership of little-known architect Thomas Gildard and his brother-in-law H.M. McFarlane. The building, which was born as a music hall and can be counted among the first to get electricity in Glasgow, became one of the earliest establishments to be put into moving picture. It also housed freak shows, carnivals, waxworks and even an indoor zoo attracting a diverse audience. It came to be called a “people’s theatre” in the hands of its most notable owner A.E. Pickard - a notorious business man, millionaire and quite the eccentric person. Unblemished or nearly intact purpose-built theatres from an early age are extremely rare in Britain. This is due to the fact that theatres that were failing financially were razed by the dozens in order to sell the land. Even financially successful theatres were razed so that they could be rebuilt bigger and better. Consequently, Britannia Music Hall, one of the few remaining examples of a nineteenth-century music hall, is worth restoration and preservation. Other historic theatre buildings, like the

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