The Royal Albert Music Hall, James Street, Corner of Landressy Street, Bridgeton Cross, Glasgow
Later - The Bridgeton Temperance Institute / The Wesleyan Methodist Mission / The Bridgeton Central Methodist Hall
Above - Main Street, Bridgeton Cross, close to James
Street, about 1900 - Courtesy
In the 1870s over-crowded properties were being removed in Calton, to the east of Glasgow Cross, and under the City Improvement Trust a new junction further eastwards - with commercial properties and modern housing - was to be developed , henceforth to be designated Bridgeton Cross with Messrs Baird & Thomson becoming the main architects.
The Royal Albert Music Hall seated 2,500 people, in the pit and a gallery. It was a three storey building newly constructed in James Street with its entrance being 36/38 Landressy Street, just below the Cross. It was being built as a tenement building with four shops at street level with Charles Thomas Owen as owner. The Dean of Guild Court granted him permission to alter the building to become a music hall on the two storeys above the shops. It opened in December 1874 providing variety, and as a venue for meetings and soirees.
Owen was the original lessee of the Royal Alexandra Music Hall, Cowcaddens which was built in 1867 as part of James Baylis`s Theatre Royal complex; and now the same variety performers worked the Alexandra Music hall and the Albert Music hall jointly.
In December 1875 the Albert Music Hall and shops were advertised for sale - The building might be adapted for a Church or Mission Hall.
A fire engulfed the building in January 1876. Despite his best intentions Charles Owen, who lived at 11 Newton Terrace, Charing Cross, was sequestrated two months later.
The valiant Charles T. Owen had started business as a steward on the river steamers for over three years to 1871/72 and had accumulated £500 to enable him to become the first lessee of the Alexandra Music Hall in Cowcaddens in August 1871. In this he was assisted by a Mr Adamson as a partner for two years. He added to his business the Royal Albert and was the proprietor of the Bridgeton hall which had cost £9,000, for which had a loan secured over it and £1,300 of his own capital. But profits were elusive.
In 1879 it was rebuilt, still with a plain exterior, under the management of A. B. Sutherland, a city commercial property factor, and Bruce Miller, a property developer. The architect of the new design was James Thomson, of Baird & Thomson, and the Albert now held 2,000 people, in stalls, pit, sides and back galleries.
Left - An advertisement in the Glasgow Herald of August 1879 for the new Royal Albert Music Hall, Bridgeton.
The Glasgow Herald reported:- The proscenium opening is twenty two feet wide and on each side are two massive and beautifully decorated pillars. Ample accommodation in the way of dressing rooms, lavatories etc has been provided for the artists... The stage has been furnished with some beautiful scenery from the brush of Mr Charles Milne, RA. The drop scene represents the Lake of Como, and is a most effective picture. Bridgeton Cross, with a distant view of Cathkin Braes, is another cleverly executed scene, and being local it hit the taste of the house at once. The orchestra is under the direction of Mr George Henderson, formerly of the Theatre Royal Glasgow... We understand that the Managers, Messrs Sutherland and Miller, have secured a ten years` lease of the Victoria Hall, Anderston, which they intend to work in connection with the Albert, an arrangement that ought to prove advantageous alike to themselves, the artists and the public. - The Glasgow Herald.
But commercial variety in the Hall came to an end in April 1880 when it became the Bridgeton Temperance Institute, the inaugural meeting being chaired by Lord Provost William Collins. It was used into the 20th century for concerts, meetings, and political hustings. A zoomable town map of Glasgow 1893 can be seen here with the Bridgeton Temperance Institute, formerly Royal Albert Music Hall , clearly named.
About 1913 it became the Wesleyan Methodist Mission for Glasgow East.
In 1926 it was replaced on the site by a grander building the Bridgeton Central Methodist Hall which provided missionary and church services, and social functions including films and concerts (including Sir Harry Lauder in the 1930s). It was demolished in the 1970s.
Right - A Photograph of Bridgeton Central Methodist Hall - Courtesy Urban Glasgow.
The above text was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on the site in February 2014.
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