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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Buildings and Cityscape

Entertainment Buildings

By Daniel Parker

Locarno Ballroom Glaswegians in the first half of the 20th century enjoyed swimming pools, cafes, Calderpark Zoo (opened 1947), theatres, clubs, dance and music halls, ice and roller skating rinks, museums, pubs and, most of all, cinemas and football stadia.

Toledo Cinema Moving pictures emerged as the most popular feature on the variety bills of Glasgow's music halls and theatres. By 1910 the city had one purpose-built cinema, the Charing Cross Electric Theatre in Sauchiehall Street. This number had risen to 114 by the end of the 1930s accommodating 175,000 people! The glamorous world of the "movies" was reflected in exotic architectural motifs such as those at the Egyptian-style Govanhill Picture House (1925-6) and the Hispanic-style Toledo in Muirend (1933).

Scottish Cup Final, 1955 Meanwhile the growing number of football supporters required purpose built stadia. The architect Archibald Leitch (1866-1939) provided new stands with distinctive red brick facades at Celtic Park (1929) and Ibrox (1929). Hampden Park (present site opened 1903) holds the record for the largest attendance at a British sporting event when 149,415 spectators watched Scotland play England in 1937.

Rothesay Entertainers 1924 Glaswegians also escaped "doon the watter" to the seaside towns of the Firth of Clyde, particularly during the Glasgow Fair holiday. Here they patronised new hotels, bars and dancehalls such as the Rothesay Pavilion, on the Isle of Bute (1937).

Empire Exhibition The Empire Exhibition of 1938 also deserves mention as an impressive temporary entertainment. Thomas Tait's (1882-1954) tower on Bellahouston Hill dominated the site and survived until the Second World War when it was demolished to avoid the attentions of enemy planes.

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