March 1877: The New Public Halls – Renamed St Andrew’s Halls, in 1879

An article on page three of The Glasgow Herald, on Tuesday the 27th of March, 1877, reads:




Any one who is interested in the new public halls for Glasgow may now form some idea of the superior accommodation

which will in future be provided for our large public meetings and musical and other gatherings by looking in at the

buildings, the erection of which is nearing completion. The interiors are still in the déshabille [sic] which is implied in the

presence of bands of workmen, but one may at least realise the vast proportions of the larger halls, and admire the harmonious

en suite disposition of the lesser apartments. So far as one can judge, the buildings might be completed within three months,

but they will not be required until the Grand Musical Festival fixed for next autumn, and in these circumstances it is much better

to carry on the work in a leisurely way, so that the painting and decorating may proceed upon walls and ceilings which are

thoroughly dried.


It may not be uninteresting at this time to recall some of the facts connected with the origin of the new halls. About the beginning

of 1871 a number of our leading citizens, recognising the great want of adequate accommodation for concerts, proposed to form

a company to acquire a large area of ground bounded by North Street, Kent Road, Granville Street, and Berkeley Street, and to erect

thereon a large and commodious concert-room or music-hall, after the style of the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. A sketch plan for

the proposed building was prepared by the late Mr John Cunningham, of Liverpool, who had been architect for the Philharmonic Hall

there, and with him was associated Mr Campbell Douglas, of this city. The cost of the scheme as then proposed would have been about

£160,000, but, partly no doubt from the fact that the return from such a large undertaking was somewhat dubious, but mainly in

consequence of the apathy displayed in the matter in musical circles, the subscriptions received were not sufficient to justify the

promoters in proceeding with the formation of the company. During the year following, the ground having been in the meantime

secured, a company was formed to carry out the western portion of the suite of assembly rooms as originally designed, with a large

amount of additional accommodation which had been planned by Mr Campbell Douglas at the suggestion of the promoters. The idea at

this time was that the great concert room might still have been built on the eastern portion of the ground, and so the plans as then

prepared provided no hall which could have been considered of adequate size for great concerts. As the prospect of ultimately completing

the original Philharmonic Hall became less bright, the architects (Messrs Campbell Douglas & Sellars) were instructed to alter and revise

the plans till they assumed the form now carried into execution, including a hall, which will be for many years found sufficiently large for

the wants of the city. Mr Cunningham unfortunately died before the building was commenced, but the architects had the benefit of his

advice on various matters connected with the ventilation and heating of the structure – subjects on which, from his experience, he was

well qualified to give an opinion. The hall which has been built, although not specially constructed for music only, but made suitable for

all the purposes for which our present City Hall is used, is confidently expected to be an acoustic success. The floors having been now laid,

and the scaffolding removed, experiments have been made to test it, with the result of finding that while there is plenty of resonance, there

is no echo whatever.


What strikes the visitor on entering the Great Hall for the first time is the immense size of the place. Accustomed as we are in Glasgow

with the ‘City Hall,’ the contrast is very striking. This effect is probably due rather to the enormous height than the increased area,

because, although the area is little more than half as large again as the City Hall, the cubic contents or air space is more than two-and-

a-half times as large. The seating accommodation will be nearly the same as that of the music hall proposed in the original scheme.

Workmen are at present engaged finishing the platform for the organ and chorus. The erection of the organ is to be commenced in June.

Accommodation in the way of reception rooms, cloak rooms, retiring rooms, rooms for professionals, &c., are being provided on a scale

and in a style of which we have had hitherto no experience in Glasgow. Underneath the platform is a ‘tuning room,’ in which orchestras

may put their instruments in order; and thus spare audiences the pain of the preliminary discord at present inflicted in all concert rooms in

this country. Two kitchens are provided in the building – one in the basement to be used on the occasion of banquets, and a smaller one on

the upper floor to be used in connection with the supper-room of the ball-room suite. The ball-room (which will be second only to the City

Hall for dancing space), the reception saloon, and the supper-room are on the upper floor of the west building, and seem most complete in

all their arrangements. An orchestral gallery is provided in the ball-room. The work is generally in a forward state; nearly the whole of the

plaster work is complete; the floor of the great hall is laid, and the fittings are rapidly being put in place. The painter is engaged on the large

hall and on the ball-room suite. Mr Andrew Wells is executing this work under the direction of the architects.


We referred on a former occasion to the external character of the building and may now only add that it has been determined to complete

all the sculpture proposed in the design – viz., in addition to the figures already erected, four large groups of three figures each, to be

placed on the pedestals which project along the front of the building, and also a frieze about 80 feet long, containing figure subjects, on

the parapet over the centre part of the building. The design has been carried out under the superintendence of the architects, and the

result is a building of which any city might well be proud. It is perhaps unfortunate that the really magnificent façade fronts a rather

out-of-the-way and narrow street; but there is, we believe, a fair prospect of the remaining portion of the ground to North Street being

occupied by a building harmonising with the architectural style of the halls, so as to form one grand structure. Plans have been prepared

by the same architects for the new scheme, which, we trust, will meet with the support it deserves. We hope to give some details of this

latter proposal shortly, and confidently look forward to its successful inauguration.”



George Fairfull-Smith, June 2023.