The History of the Olympia

Situated on the corner of London Road and Orr Street at Bridgeton Cross, the Olympia Theatre opened in September 1911 and provided over 2,000 seats for the audiences to enjoy a variety of acts and performers. It was built as Glasgow’s equivalent to the London Palladium.

Following the Great War the ‘variety’ aspect of the theatre’s entertainment shows was dropped, with the focus shifting to become a full time cinema in 1924. The auditorium was renovated in 1938 with an interior that was considered to be more appropriate and modern for a cinema at that time. In its heyday, the Art Deco treatments transformed the interiors and Hollywood-style glamour literally lit up the exterior with neon decoration and signage.

For many decades the theatre played a significant social and cultural role in Glasgow’s East End until it closed in March 1974. Following a period of disuse, the building was converted to a Bingo Club and later a furniture store, where it was occupied up until the late 1990s. It is over 100 years since the building first opened and it still represents a key architectural and historical element in defining Bridgeton Cross. As well as being a local historic landmark, the building is of architectural importance in Scotland.

Responding to the demands of local residents, Clyde Gateway bought the building in 2009 for almost £2m with the support of the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Heritage Fund. Over the next couple of years, the building was redeveloped with four new floors added to the rear, retaining the existing Grade B listed façade at the front.

The Olympia reopens to the public in 2012 when the ground floor provides a public library and learning centre with a café. The first floor is let to a high performance centre and the remaining accommodation is commercial office space.