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64 | FEATURES

‘I am bothered, I am bothered.’ ‘Why’s that then?’ said the other butterfly. ‘Because I couldn’t go to the dance,’ said the first. ‘Why ever not?’ asked the second. ‘Because it was a moth ball.’ ”The young man’s name was Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel, and he went on to become one half of the iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

Beware of the Ghost

The Panopticon is thought to be the home of many former residents no longer of this earth, and a number of visitors and staff have reported spooky occurrences. It is reportedly the location of the only known recording of the sound of a ghost, made by a BBC sound engineer who was recording a show in the basement of the building, when he, allegedly, recorded strange otherworldly echoes of chimpanzee whooping!

Judith Bowers, author of The Story of the Britannia Music Hall,

believes these whoops to be from the ghost of ‘Solomon the Man Monkey’, a chimpanzee kept in the Panopticon Zoo for many years (who was, incidentally, only ever seen fully clothed), who still haunts the building and may even be responsible for the inexplicable disappearances of property. Judith explains: “Things are always mysteriously going missing here [in the Britannia] and we are fairly sure it has something to do with Solomon. He was apparently a well-accomplished pick pocket... his fellow chimp, Betsy, would lure unsuspecting visitors close to their cage with her charm and good looks and then Solomon would help himself to the contents of their pockets.”

A Living Legend

Happily, the Britannia Panopticon is once again being used for its original purpose and puts on a number of different performances, from stand-up during the comedy festival to burlesque dance performances. Current events include a series of Laurel and Hardy film nights in celebration of one of the building’s most famous sons.

Trustee of the Britannia Panopticon and architectural historian Gordon Urquhart is enthusiastic about the building’s importance: “This building is internationally significant and has so much to tell us, not only about popular entertainment over the last 150 years but the cultural history of Glasgow too – and more is being found out all the time as more work is done.”

We look forward to the future stories that are still to be revealed, ranging from the sublime to the gloriously ridiculous, from this iconic piece of Glasgow’s past.

Glasgow City Heritage Trust works in partnership with heritage, conservation and community groups across the City to promote and facilitate the preservation of our historic built landscape; for more information visit their website on www.glasgowheritage.org.uk Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86
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