March 1893: Glasgow Athenaeum (Limited) – the New Hall

An article on page three of The Glasgow Herald, on Thursday the 16th of March, 1893, reads:






The modern history of Glasgow will be searched in vain for a parallel to the development of the Athenaeum. Since its

conversion into a limited liability company it has progressed in a remarkable manner; so much so that there seems no

end to the energy and enterprise of the directors, who have succeeded in organising an institution the equal of which it

would be difficult to find. The extensions which have been in progress in Buchanan Street, and which are estimated to

cost not less than £30,000, are now nearly completed. In the beginning of December, the new building, with the exception

of the hall and smoking-room, were formally opened at an inaugural dinner, and to-morrow evening the hall will be

declared open at a conversazione, which is to be presided over by Sir James King, Bart., of Campsie. Yesterday afternoon

representatives of the press had an opportunity of privately viewing the new hall. Centrally situated and a model of

compactness, the hall promises to become not only a valuable addition to an otherwise well-equipped institution, but an

important addition to the meeting-places in the city. The hall, which is adapted for concerts, lectures, or theatrical

entertainments, occupies the entire street and basement floors of the new building. It measures nearly 150 feet by 80 feet,

by 56 feet in height, and provides accommodation for about 1000 people, the audience being equally divided between the

area and the gallery. The principal entrance is from Buchanan Street, but an entrance is also gained through the St George’s

Place building, and the same may be used as exit, as well as a large emergency door from the balcony to the lane. In all there

is about 24 lineal feet of doorway as exit, which for the number of people allows about 40 per foot of doorway, as against 70,

the limit of the Act. A cloak room is provided for each of the different parts of the house. The stage, which is situated at the

west end of the hall, measures 30 feet in depth, and has an opening measuring 40 feet. Retiring-rooms and lavatories are in

close proximity to the stage, and there is ample depth provided both above and beneath the level of the stage for the working

of any mechanism in connection with the staging of scenery, &c. The walls are neatly finished with timber lining and the ceilings

with ornamental plaster work. In the construction of the building effect has been given to the latest ideas. The reserved chairs,

which occupy the front portion of the area and the entire circle, are of novel design, and are supplied by the Bennett Furnishing

Company. They are so constructed as to economise space and conduce to the comfort of the audience, provision being made for

hats and umbrellas. The decorative scheme, which is principally in the Japanese style, is restrained, and is in thorough harmony

with the architecture throughout. The predominant colours are blue, yellow, and gold, the back of the platform being painted to

represent lace tapestry, and the effect obtained is of the most charming description. A special feature of the internal arrangements

in the Athenaeum is an efficient system of combined heating and ventilation. The air, before being introduced into the building, is

passed through a filtering screen and purified from all dust particles, fogs, or other extraneous matters. It is then passed through

steam-heated coils of piping, where it is raised to the required temperature, relieved from all superfluous moisture, and passed on

to rotary fans, by which it is propelled into ducts or channels leading to the several apartments of the building, and discharged

through ornamental gratings, so placed as to secure an equal distribution throughout the apartment. While the primary object of

the steam-heated coils of piping is to raise the temperature of a cold external atmosphere, provision has been made so that the same

coils of piping may be utilised for the circulation of cold water in order to reduce the temperature of a warm or sultry external

atmosphere when necessary. Two distinct plants of machinery and main ducts have been put down, one being specially reserved for

the requirements of the hall. Flues for the extraction of vitiated air are placed in the most effective positions. In the hall provision

has been made for the introduction, by the aid of one fan only, of a volume of purified fresh-heated air equivalent to 1200 cubic feet

of air for each person per hour, or otherwise equal to a volume of air 15 . 80 times the cubical contents of the hall per hour. The

building is lighted by electricity, the installation being by Messrs Holmes & Co., Newcastle, from the plans and specifications of

Professor Jamieson, Glasgow. Every precaution has, of course, been taken against fire, the floors being constructed of the Fawcett

fireproof floors supplied by Mr Rud. A. Stoffert, Glasgow. The architects are Messrs J. Burnet, Son & Campbell; and the various

tradesmen are – Anderson & Henderson, joiners and masons; Messrs Mitchell & Davis, plasterers; Messrs Brown & Young, plumbers;

Messrs J. Cormack & Sons, heating and ventilating engineers; and Messrs McCulloch & Co., painters, all of Glasgow, with Mr Thomas

Douglas as master of works. After inspecting the hall, the company were entertained to luncheon by the directors. Mr James Provan,

of Auchengillon, a brother of Mr Moses Provan, one of the original founders of the Athenaeum, and chairman of the directors,

presided, while among others present were Mr Duthie, Dr Lapraik, Mr Campbell, Mr Lauder, and Mr Burnet. Several toasts were

submitted, and in the course of the proceedings the valuable services rendered by Mr Lauder, the secretary, in connection with the

extension of the institution were acknowledged, while the Chairman indicated that the directors would not be satisfied until a

boarding-house was attached to the Athenaeum.”



The British Newspaper Archive.



George Fairfull-Smith, July 2023.