March 1893: The Glasgow Athenaeum – Opening of the New Hall

An article on page eleven of The Glasgow Herald, on Saturday the 18th of March, 1893, reads:






The new hall which has been added to the Glasgow Athenaeum was formally inaugurated last night. The directors

invited a large number of guests, who, after they had inspected the premises, assembled in the hall. Nearly all the

1000 seats with which it is furnished were occupied, and the scene was most attractive. With its artistic decoration

and upholstery, and its brilliant lighting, the hall certainly ranks among the most luxurious of the public halls of the

city. Sir James King, Bart., was called to the chair, and among the other gentlemen present were Bailie Parnie, ex-

Bailies Gray, Colquhoun, and Farquhar; Professor Jamieson, Major Coubrough, Major Cassells, Councillors Steele

and Burt, Messrs J. Wilson, Bantaskine; D. McKellar, J. J. Burnet, J. A. Campbell, L. W. Holmes, F. J. Barrett, Hugh

Lamberton, David Tullis, Dick Cleland, Henry Johnston, James Provan, Jas. Henderson, Wm. Campbell, John Dausken,

Dr Macintyre, and Dr Lapraik.


Sir JAMES KING, in addressing the meeting, congratulated the directors, and more especially the secretary, on the signal

success which had followed the expansion of the institution. He hoped that they might find their reward in an expansion

still greater and a success still more distinguished. When he became a life member of the Athenaeum it was located in dark

and dingy premises, and its prospects were far from encouraging. It seemed to suffer under the serious complaint of chronic

impecuniosity. Either by a good investment or by a happy circumstance a ray of light was shed upon it, and those who had its

direction in charge were not slow to take advantage of this hopeful occurrence. Bit by bit an advance was made. With great

enterprise, a public company was formed; an extensive and elegant building was ordered, which was found to be too small,

but which was added to from time to time; and the result was now before the meeting. He thought he might congratulate the

directors on having an institution under their charge which was mainly the result of their own exertions, and was second to

none in the United Kingdom. It was very far-reaching in its aims and objects. One of the later poets had said that man wanted

but little here below. He was afraid that in modern times this, however, was untrue, because man wanted a great many things,

and was sometimes unreasonable in his demands. But very many of his wants ought to be supplied in the Athenaeum. It was

somewhat surprising that in the first Athenaeum, dedicated as it was to a lady, the goddess Minerva, there was not accommodation

for her own sex. They were in every respect ignored and forgotten; but there was either more gallantry or more consideration among

the directors of the Glasgow Athenaeum, and no one he was sure would object – everyone, on the contrary, would rejoice – that under

the mantle of the goddess of wisdom all votaries of art, of music, and of literature found a welcome and a home. In an institution so

wide in its aims, so admirably fulfilling the objects for which it was intended, and making such a very modest demand upon the purse,

it was not surprising to find that hundreds  – he might say thousands – of ladies and gentlemen had enrolled themselves as members.

He was quite sure that as time passed, and everything was by experience put into the best possible order, if indeed improvement was

possible, that these members, instead of being reduced, would be increased. The institution was one which had all their best wishes.

An important want was being supplied that night. He was sure the meeting would agree with him that the concert hail was pleasant in

its form, harmonious in its colouring, luxurious in its furnishings, and brilliant in its illumination. In concluding, Sir James expressed

the hope that the Athenaeum would continue to be one of the best and most useful institutions of the city.


A concert was afterwards proceeded with.”



The British Newspaper Archive.



George Fairfull-Smith, July 2023.