Britannia Panopticon Music hall

Historic Buildings & Homes

113-117 Trongate, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1 5HD

    The worlds oldest surviving music hall, Now with the recently restored 1920's stage! Built in 1857, the Britannia Panopticon stands as testament to Glasgow's bawdy, saucy and lewd entertainment history.

    Welcome to the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall - the oldest surviving Music Hall in the World

    The Britannia opened in 1857 to entertain the workers in the industrial capital of the world. 1,500 people flocked in for every show up to six shows a day. Over the years all the greats of the Scottish and London music hall stage appeared there including Dan Leno, Harry Champion, Charles Coburn, Marie Loftus, Vesta Tilley, Ella Shields, Jack Buchanan, Harry Lauder, Archie Leech (Cary Grant) and most famously, Stan Laurel who made his debut there in 1906.

    In 1896 moving pictures were added to the bill of fare and in 1906 a Yorkshire showman, A.E. Pickard, became the new manager and added an attic carnival, wax works, freak show and zoo to the entertainments and renamed the building “Panopticon” (to see everything) AKA the Pots and Pans.

    The Britannia Panopticon entertained the citizens of Glasgow for over 80 years but sadly, by 1938 it was too outmoded to accommodate modern cinema and variety and it was closed and hidden above a false ceiling.

    For over 60 years it lay unloved and forgotten (save for the chickens who were farmed there during WW2 to provide fresh eggs during the war), until 1997 when Judith Bowers persuaded the owners of the building to let her in. She fell in love with the old music hall and since then, with the help of an amazing group of trustees, volunteers and the Friends of Britannia Panopticon the music hall is once again open to entertain with traditional music hall shows, classic cinema nights, comedy, fairs, exhibitions and much more... Britannia Panopticon is a real hidden gem and a step back in time to the Victorian city.

    We have now successfully restored the 1920's stage and preseved the existing 1857 platform which lies underneath, our next phase of work being to restore the balcony front. Admission is generally free to the music hall but we do ask that visitors leave a donation to help further the campaign to fully conserve and protect this invaluable vessel of entertainment and social history. For more information about Britannia Panopticon’s history, opening hours and campaign please visit our website or our charity shop at 49 High Street, Glasgow. You can also follow us on twitter and facebook.



    Opening Times
    Open All Year
    Opening Times 2016
    1 Apr 2016 - 30 Nov 2016

    Open for general viewing noon - 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday. For private viewing by appointment please tel: 0141 553 0840. Also open for shows , exhibitions, films and fairs. Please visit for details or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Britannia Panopticon Music Hall is also available for hire.


    • Tea & Coffee Available


    • No Smoking Permitted


    • City Centre


    • On Public Transport Route
    • Paid Parking within easy distance


    • Children Welcome

    Leisure Facilities

    • Entertainment Available
    • Gift Shop

    Special Requirements

    • Children Welcome
    • Coach Parties Welcome
    • Dogs Welcome
    • Groups Welcome
    • Pets Allowed

    Wedding Services

    • Can use own suppliers
    • Civil Ceremony
    • In-house Co-ordinator

    Road Directions

    Britannia Panopticon Music Hall is located on the Trongate which is the continuation east of Argyle Street. If you are standing at Marks & Spencers on the corner of Argyle Street and Glassford Street with the pedestrian precinct behind you look for the TJ Hughes sign ahead on the right hand side of the street and you will find the entrance to Britannia Panopticon tucked in a little lane just beyond TJ Hughes. The lane is called New Wynd.

    Public Transport Directions

    For visitors to Glasgow catch the train to Central Station or Queen Street Station and it's a fifteen minute stroll. Nearest urban line train station is Argyle Street and nearest Underground Station is St Enoch. Various buses travel up the Trongate including First Bus 61, 62 and 40 which all stop almost directly outside Britannia Panopticon and if you are using a City Sightseeing bus use stop 3 or 7 and ask your guide or driver for directions. Stop 3 is also the closest stop to our shop at 49 High Street

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