97 Eglinton Street,
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Firms: Frank Matcham & Company
Previous Names: Coliseum Theatre, ABC Coliseum Cinerama Theatre
The Glasgow Coliseum Theatre is located on the south side of the city centre in the district of Laurieston/Eglington Street. It was built for the Moss Empire’s theatre circuit and opened on 18th December 1905 as a 2,893 seats music hall/variety theatre. It was designed by the most prolific UK theatre architect Frank Matcham. There were two balconies and a 36 feet deep stage. It began cinema use from 1925 when it was sold to Associated British Cinemas(ABC), and in January 1929 was the first cinema in Glasgow to screen ‘talkies’ when Al Jolson in “The Jazz Singer” played here.
In 1931 it closed for major alterations by ABC’s in-house architect William R. Glen and the new decoration was in a ‘Jazz Moderne’/Art Deco style. The seating capacity was increased to 3,094. The original marble proscenium arch was removed, the orchestra pit filled-in, and the large stage was removed, the seating was extended into this area.
In 1962 the upper balcony seating area was demolished and the front of the dress circle was partially removed to allow for the installation of 3 separate Cinerama projection boxes in the rear stalls. The stalls and first balcony only were now in use, and the seating reduced to 1,310. There was wall-to-wall curtains and a new lower ceiling installed. The screen was 90ft wide, said to be the largest in the UK. All this was designed by architect Leslie C. Norton. The first programme in Cinerama was “How the West Was Won” which opened on 26th September 1963.
After Cinerama films dried up, the ABC Coliseum reverted to normal programming but closed on 11th October 1980 with Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”. A Compulsory Purchase Order was made to allow for a new road scheme. This never happened and the building stood empty for several years until the County Bingo Hall was established here in 1987 - further altering the interior.
The bingo hall created a new inner shell within the auditorium, but there were apparently still substantial remains of the original decorations hidden from view. The County Bingo Club closed in January 2003 and since then the building remained empty and unused.
On 17th June 1986, Historic Scotland designated the Coliseum Cinema a Grade B Listed building. It was also listed on the Buildings At Risk Register.
At 01:30am on the morning of 25th May 2009, 60 firefighters fought a loosing battle with a blaze that seriously damaged the former Coliseum Theatre building. The remains of the Coliseum Theatre was demolished a couple of weeks later, in early-June 2009.
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