WHERE IS IT? In the Bridgeton district in the city's East End, across from Bridgeton Cross and train station
The Olympia Theatre of Varieties opened in 1911 in Bridgeton. Designed by Glasgow architect John Arthur in collaboration with famous theatre architect Frank Matcham.
The Olympia only served as a theatre for little over a decade, before it was transformed into a cinema by the Scottish Cinema and Variety Theatres group, which eventually merged into the Associated British Cinema chain. The shift into theatres was in line with the group’s rapid expansion as films became more popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
By this time, Matcham’s interiors were considered inappropriate for a cinema. Designers Charles J. McNair and Henry F. Elder changed the French Renaissance plasterwork to the more modern and suitable Art Deco style.
Since the 1970s when the cinema officially closed, it lay unoccupied until County Bingo and then later Full House Furnishing took over, but at the turn of the millennium was vacant and fell into disrepair. A fire broke out in 2004, killing a homeless man sleeping inside. It remained that way until 2011 when Clyde Gateway managed to secure £10m in funding to renovate the building, transforming it into a public library, history archive and cafe.
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