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The Pavilion Theatre, 121 Renfield Street, Glasgow

The Pavilion Theatre and the Collins Family

Glasgow Index

The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2004 - Courtesy Roger Fox

Above - The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2004 - Courtesy Roger Fox

The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2003 - Photo M.L.The Pavilion Theatre was designed by the respected Theatre Architect Bertie Crew and opened on the 29th of February, 1904. The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the new Theatre in their 18th of March 1904 edition saying:- 'The latest addition to the list of Glasgow theatres, the Pavilion Palace of Varieties, was opened last week. The new theatre, which has a central situation in the neighbourhood of Sauchiehall-street, at the junction of Renfield and Renfrew-streets, has been erected to the designs of Mr. Bertie Crewe, architect, of London.

Right - The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2003 - Photo M.L.

Its main elevation, which is towards Renfield-street, between Sauchiehall-street and Renfrew-street, is in salmon-pink terracotta, treated in an ornate manner in the style of the Later French Renaissance. In this elevation is the grand entrance-hall, with mosaic floor and mahogany fittings. Here, on the ground floor, are situated the stalls and pit of the building. The former are upholstered in plush, and the floor is covered with a thick Wilton carpet. The seats are of the tip-up variety, as are also the seats in the pit.

The Auditorium of the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2004 - Courtesy Roger FoxA staircase decorated with mosaic work leads to the foyer, which is in white and gold, with panels of green silk paper.

Left - The Auditorium of the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2004 - Courtesy Roger Fox.

The seating accommodation in the circle consists of eight rows of seating, comprising 340 plush tip-up chairs. At the back of these are lounges, boxes, and a promenade. Here also is a fireproof cinematograph chamber, and there are two private boxes reached from the proscenium. The gallery, which occupies the tier above the circle, has fourteen rows of seating and promenades.

The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2003 - Photo M.L.The general scheme of decoration is in cream and gold, and a special feature is the proscenium arch, which is filled in with Watteau paintings. The ceiling is domed, and has a sliding roof. The stage has a width of 70ft. The auditorium, which is 76ft. in width, is without a single column in its whole extent.

Right - The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow in 2003 - Photo M.L.

The building throughout is built of fireproof material, and eleven exits will be in regular use - two for the stalls, and three for each of the other portions of the building. In the event of a fire occurring on the stage, an asbestos curtain will immediately descend, and prevent the spread of the fire to the auditorium. In addition, the management have provided a sprinkler and two hydrants, and the stage is in direct communication with the fire brigade. There is an installation of electric light, and electric fans are used for securing ventilation. The total seating accommodation will accommodate 2,500 persons.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, 18th of March 1904.

90th anniversary programme for the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow - Courtesy Peter Charlton.Period Programme for the Glagow Pavilion - Courtesy Peter Charlton.The Pavilion Theatre is still in use today and currently has a capacity of 1,449 made up of 677 in the stalls, 341 in the circle, 413 in the balcony and 18 box seats. In the 1940s and 50s the Theatre was famous for its long running Pantomimes.

Right - A Period Programme for the Glasgow Pavilion Theatre - Courtesy Peter Charlton. Far Right - A 90th anniversary programme for the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

The Glasgow Pavilion Theatre celebrated its 90th anniversary in 1994, (see programme far right,) and in 2004, despite reaching its centenary, was still in fine fettle and regularly 'packing them in.'

The Theatre's own website says of the Pavilion:- 'Defying all the odds, Glasgow's Pavilion regularly purveys variety to this day. All the more remarkable as it is completely unsubsidised and receives no funding from the Scottish Arts Council and kindred bodies whose thoughts and cash are directed at higher cultural activities. It remains the last stronghold of a long music hall tradition in Europe's City of Culture owing everything to a dedicated staff and patrons and nothing to the public purse.'

The above textual extract in quotes is from the Theatre's website which you may like to visit here.

An excellent photograph of the Pavilion's auditorium, taken by Ian Grundy in 1993, can be seen here. Information on the Collins Family and their involvement with the Pavilion Theatre can be seen below.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Pavilion Theatre and the Collins Family

The Fred Collins Variety Agency

A Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme Cover from October 1932 - Courtesy Ross Collins.The Fred Collins Variety Agency engaged artistes for the Pavilion Theatre and many other theatres throughout Britain. It had been started by comic and singer Fred Collins (real name James Nelson) who in his earlier years wrote over 300 songs for performers including Sir Harry Lauder. Before forming his own Fred Collins Entertainers of pierrots the two toured together and remained life-long friends.

Right - A Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme Cover from October 1932 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

Horace Collins 1901-1947 - Courtesy Ross Collins.Collins soon commenced the production of pantomimes, with Collins Productions Ltd writing and producing major pantomimes and seasonal shows for their own expanding bases and for other circuits. They produced all the scenery and costumes for each production and tours, at their workshops in Edinburgh.

Left - Horace Collins 1901-1947 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

His son Horace Collins, shown left, succeeded him in 1931, developing their own Five Theatre Circuit - one major theatre in each city of Scotland and one in England, to comprise a full year seasonal variety circuit - which included the Tivoli Theatre Aberdeen, the Palace Theatre Dundee, the Theatre Royal Edinburgh, the Shakespeare Theatre Liverpool and the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow in which he was a major shareholder.

Pages from a Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme for 1950 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

Above - Pages from a Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme for 1950 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

Pages from a Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme for 1953 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

Above - Pages from a Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Programme for 1953 - Courtesy Ross Collins.

The excellent Collins Variety Agency of Scotland website contains much about the Collins enterprises and the Pavilion Theatre. Horace Collins was also a keen film photographer, and excerpts of his filming of pantomimes have been secured for public delight, set to music in association with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and the University of Glasgow.

The restored films include Sinbad the Sailor starring Dave Willis filmed at the Glasgow Pavilion Theatre during its 1936-37 run, which can be seen here. And Forty Thieves starring G. H. Elliot and Jack Anthony filmed in colour at the Glasgow Pavilion Theatre during its 1937-38 run, which can be seen here.

The above article on the Pavilion Theatre and the Collins Family was kindly written for this site by Graeme Smith in March 2017. Accompanying images are Courtesy Ross Collins.

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