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Glasgow’s music scene – from here to heritage

Sauchiehall Street in the 1960s and the present day. Image by Hugh Nicolson.

One of the most fascinating features of setting up Glasgow Music City Tours has been tracing the way that the city’s entertainment venues have changed over the years.

Venues which now host big name rock acts have previous lives which may seem highly unlikely in the 21st century. The Barrowland was a roller skating rink at one point while the ABC was a hippodrome with a circus ring back in the 1920s.

Old and new Glasgow

While researching the venues on our tours, we came across a series of pictures from Hugh Nicolson which skillfully blend old and new street scenes in Glasgow. You can see more of Hugh’s work here. If you have any interest in Glasgow’s past, his images are beguiling.

We contacted Hugh and he kindly gave us the go ahead to use a couple of his images in our tours. We particularly liked the one above which looks down Sauchiehall Street from the Charing Cross end.

Mixing scenes from the 1960s and the present day, the picture shows the Curzon cinema, the Locarno Ballroom and, if you squint, the marquee for the Astoria which is sticking out. Beyond, in colour, is The Beresford buidling.

The Locarno opened in 1926 and was the dance hall of choice for many. If you couldn’t get in the Locarno, then you would waltz down to the Astoria.

Scotland’s Last Hope

And if you couldn’t get in there you could always try the Albert on Bath Street. Perhaps tellingly, the latter was nicknamed Scotland’s Last Hope.

The Locarno went on to become Tiffany’s and then Zanzibar and hosted everyone from Maggie Bell to future stadium fillers such as U2, Depeche Mode and The Cure. It’s now a casino.

The Astoria became Electric Garden, Shuffles, Mayfair and is now The Garage. Pink Floyd, Altered Images and Orange Juice have all played on the premises.

Wall of Fame

The current owners have recently celebrated their 21st birthday by creating a wall of fame running up the stairs.

This features the names of the 1600 bands, solo artists and comedians who have played there, including Coldplay, Ian Dury, Stereophonics, One Direction and Marilyn Manson.

Come out on tour with us and you will find out what other musical skeletons we have unearthed.