See more pictures of the Coliseum exterior here.
The Coliseum has
had a long and
complex history, having been rebuilt and repurposed many times over its
104 year history. It originally opened in 1905 as a music
for Moss's Empire, designed by the famous theatre architect, Frank Matcham
was a late design for Matcham, and had a large auditorium
with a small street facade. In a design typical of the period, there
were separate entrances for different parts of the building, to ensure
high-paying customers for the grand circle did not have to mix with the
poorer clientele buying tickets for the gods!
However, in a novel
design feature, all customers did have the option to wait in an indoor
waiting area, with carpets and seats. The main entrance was
for 'Stalls and Boxes' only, with a separate
entrance in the octagonal corner stair tower for the 'Grand Tier'.
Originally seating 2,893, the auditorium had two cantilevered
balconies, facing an ornate proscenium with decorative panels (noted as
'art panel here' in the original plans!).
The original plans did include a small 'Operators Box' to the rear of
the Grand Circle, and certainly as early as 1911, the 'American
Bioscope' was a firm fixture of the programme.
1911 Programme Cover
Programme Page 1
Programme Page 2
Programme Centre Pages
The Coliseum started showing films full time around 1925, and it was
the venue for Glasgow's first showing of a talking picture, in January
courtesy of Cinema Theatre Association Archive
|In 1931, due
to its popularity, ABC commissioned WR Glen to remodel the
building and bring it up to date as a cinema. He removed the original
proscenium and stage, and extended the stalls forward to increase
seating. At the same time, he made major alterations to both balconies
- altering the line of the fronts (making them less of a deep horseshoe
than before), and also removing some pillars supporting the upper
circle - presumably to improve sightlines. A new larger projection room
was constructed at the back of the upper circle, obviously protruding
from the front of the building. The new seating was for 3,094.
photos c1980 courtesy Chris Doak
|In 1963, the
was chosen as Scotland's first - and only -
Cinerama theatre. The interior was drastically altered, with a new
shell constructed within the existing auditorium. Wall to wall curtains
covered the 1930s decoration on the splay walls, and a new checkerboard
pattern set within an enormous oval dominated the ceiling.
The upper balcony was
partly removed, leaving just a single circle level, and corrugated iron
cladding was added to the exterior to modernise its appearance. Seating
was now for 1,310.
of the Cinerama was covered by British Pathe News, and a clip from this
can be seen here.
The clip shows the enormous auditorium, giant screen, modern projection
box at the rear of the stalls complete with mechanical hoists
lift the enormous reels of film, as well as a new bar and double-height
Cinerama was not a lasting success, and it soon returned to
normal film use. It closed as a cinema in 1980, and lay derelict.
In 1986 it was listed Category
by Historic Scotland.
It was then reopened for County as as a bingo hall in 1987 - it had
been sitting empty since closing as a cinema in 1980. As can be seen in
the galleries below, the interior was in a poor state, and County
stripped out the remains of the Cinerama decoration (and the 1930s
that still remained in places behind it), and created a new interior
for bingo, including a new stalls floor, new splay walls and new
suspended ceiling. They also removed
the projection box
that had been added in the 1930s, and had protruded from the facade, as
well as repairing and re-rendering the exterior. Further alterations
included blocking off portions
of the enormous building which were now surplus to requirements.
Galleries above courtesy of
Bingo closed in January 2003, and the building was left sitting
and decaying. It changed ownership in early 2006, and in September
2006, the local council had to draw up an Urgent Repairs notice to
ensure it remained wind and watertight.
From photos provided of the building taken in August 2006, it can be
seen that unfortunately, very little remains of the original Matcham
interior after this catalogue of alterations [Some photos marked (*)
courtesy Urban Desertion].
Tower detail (*)
EMI Cinemas Ltd
Mirror surround and hatch
Basement waiting area
Basement tile detail
Stairs to circle (*)
View to Stage
View to Stage
Bingo proscenium (*)
View to balcony
Bingo - Bar (*)
Balcony bingo tables (*)
Balcony bingo tables (*)
Ceiling above gallery
Gallery side wall
Photo of the cinema from the high flats behind here,
courtesy Norrie Mcnamee.
suffered a very bad fire on the early morning of Monday
25th May, 2009; most of the roof had fallen in, and the top of the
tower also collapsed. Demolition teams quickly moved in, and
demolished the building from the rear forward. There is now effectively
nothing left of the building.
Gallery of post-fire and demolition images can be seen here.
Coverage on BBC News website here,
and the Evening Times here.
Image above of the original frontage, briefly revealed during demolition works, courtesy of Steven Parkes
Original Matcham plans: Glasgow City Archives 2/389, 1905;
2/1330, 1905; 2/737, 1905; 2/738, 1905
WR Glen Modifications: Glasgow City Archives B4/12/1931/117
Cinerama Alterations: Glasgow City Archives B4/12/1963/6
2006 Interior Gallery: Urban