Glasgow’s Pavilion theater sold to the London company

One of Scotland’s oldest and best loved theaters has been taken over by new owners.

The Pavilion Theater in Glasgow has been bought by London-based Trafalgar Entertainment for an undisclosed sum.

The 1,449-capacity Renfield Street venue was the last privately run theater in Scotland.

Opening in 1904 as a music hall, the venue has played host to stars including Harry Lauder, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Connolly and Lulu.

The Pavilion has a unique place in Glasgow’s entertainment scene, putting on home-grown productions, well-attended pantomimes and national music tours.

It has endured tough times in recent years, including flooding and the pandemic.

Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow

The Pavilion Theater was damaged in the Sauchiehall Street fire in 2018.

Its existence was put in jeopardy in March 2018 when a major fire destroyed nearby Victoria’s nightclub and neighboring buildings in Sauchiehall Street.

Located behind the scene of the blaze, fire crews had to work to stop the fire reaching the iconic theater.

Iain Gordon has worked at the theater since 1977 and managed it since 1984.

He will be retiring from his role as part of the changes.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but it has been announced the venue will become part of TE’s Trafalgar Theaters division.

It will sit alongside other venues within the portfolio including Trafalgar Theater in London’s West End, the Theater Royal Sydney in Australia and 12 UK regional theaters including Southend Cliffs Pavilion, the New Theatre, Cardiff, G Live and Wycombe Swan.

Chris McGuigan from Trafalgar told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We run a number of theaters – they are all individual, all rooted in the communities and cities where they are located.

“We are absolutely focused on maintaining that connection to Glasgow, which is a great entertainment city, and the legacy of the venue.”

Billy Connolly

Sir Billy Connolly has performed at the theater over the years

He said this was an opportunity for the theater to keep doing what it does best.

He said there would be a “weightier” program – more performances annually but still a variety of productions.

And he praised the state of the property.

“The building is in amazing condition considering it’s 120 years old,” he said. “You can feel the history of the place, but also the love, care and attention that has been paid to maintain it as a fantastic venue.

“We are very proud to have the opportunity to become custodians of it into the future.”

Analysis box by Pauline McLean, BBC Scotland arts correspondent

Analysis box by Pauline McLean, BBC Scotland arts correspondent

The Pavilion Theater comes with an extraordinary history.

Harry Lauder, Charlie Chaplin and Billy Connolly have all appeared there. Irish comedy legend Mrs Brown began there.

It has also welcomed The Krankies and Lulu, and comedians John Bishop, Sara Pascoe and Jason Manford.

Nicknamed The Devine Shrine for country star Sydney, it has also weathered many storms, including smoke damage from a fire in a neighboring building.

The new owners have paid tribute to the staff who have kept the Pavilion going over the last five decades and say they intend to build on their success and increase the number of shows on offer.

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