Apollo Theatre

126 Renfield Street,
Glasgow, G2 3AL

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Glasgow Apollo

Additional Info

Previously operated by: George Green Ltd.

Architects: John Fairweather

Styles: Greek Revival

Previous Names: Green's Playhouse

Nearby Theaters

Greens Playhouse

Built in 1927 by Bert and Fred Green, this vast cinema was the biggest in Europe and certainly the biggest cinema to be built in the United Kingdom. Built by the Cinema Building Company it opened as Green’s Playhouse on the 15th September 1927 with Monty Banks in “Play Safe”. It was designed purely as a cinema to screen films, and had 47 feet wide proscenium, and a very small stage which was only 16 feet deep. The projection box was located in the front underside of the balcony.

Because Glasgow was also dance crazy in those days, a 3,000 capacity ballroom was also built into the building on top of the main auditorium. There were 3 cafes which held a total of 1,400 diners, plus waiting rooms which could accommodate 1,300. Legend has it that spread throughout the cinema, ballroom, cafes and lobby areas were somewhere in the region of 10,000 people!

Green’s Playhouse was also the first to show talkies to the Glasgow audience and it became an iconic venue in Glasgow for many.

By the late-1960’s though, they were struggling to fill its vast space and it became increasingly used for rock concerts but even this failed to stop it closing in 1973 when the final film “King Boxer” (aka Five Fingers of Death) starring Lieh Lo was screened on 30th June 1973.

A quick lick of paint round its interior though saw the Playhouse resurface as the Apollo Theatre - and between then, despite a few changes of ownership it survived on an increasingly shaky peg. Among the artists who appeared in the days of the Apollo Theatre were: Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, The Who, Status Quo, Tina Turner and Paul McCartney. Local comedian Billy Connolly filled the vast auditorium on several occasions. The Apollo Theatre closed on 16th June 1985 with a concert by Paul Weller and Style Council. When the show ended fans stripped the building of ‘souvenirs’ and it was boarded up.

Speculation continued for a few years that somehow this magnificent movie palace would be saved but following structural problems the lobby and rear parts of the building were demolished in September 1987, leaving the main auditorium only intact with still the hint that somehow it might survive. A strange fire in the old ballroom on top of the building ended once and for all any hope, and it was razed to the ground in late-1988-January 1989.

Contributed by Alasdair Smith`

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

garypainter on October 14, 2006 at 6:38 pm

This cinema is better known by it’s original name of Green’s Playhouse. A more detailed history, including extensive galleries of the interior after closure and during demolition, can be found here:

View link

arkay on January 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm

My parents went there as the dance hall , But i went to see the various Groups Golden Earring Lou Reed Status Quo The rolling stones Black Sabbath Alex Harvey Band Watching Bachman Turner Overdrive with a support group called Thin Lizzy.

Biffaskin on March 6, 2022 at 10:53 am

garypainter’s link is broken.

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