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Music-hall stars such as Jack Buchanan, Charles Coburn, Harry Lauder, Dan Leno and Vesta Tilley all trod the boards at what started life as the Britannia Music Hall, as did a certain Stan Laurel, who made his debut there in 1906. Under the management of A.E. Pickard, the Panopticon, as it became known, widened its range of attractions to include freak shows, waxworks, a carnival and a zoo, continuing to draw the crowds until 1938. During the next sixty years, however, its very existence faded into memory as the building was converted and its auditorium sealed off. It was only in 1997 that Judith Bowers discovered the theatre, since when she has made it her mission to bring the Britannia back to life.
In this book Judith Bowers, founder of the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust, traces the history of this magical place and the people who performed there, and tells the fascinating story of how the Britannia is being restored to its former glory.
Judith Bowers has worked for many years as an archaeologist, and later as a Glasgow historian. She created a children’s history series called Scary Scotland, broadcast on STV in 1998 as part of the children’s programme Skoosh, for which she wrote and presented seven episodes. In 1998 she assisted in the research and presentation of a documentary on the Britannia for the series Arteries. She is secretary of the Britannia Music Hall Trust.
Foreword by Sir Michael Grade .
Sir Michael Grade is an English television executive and businessman. He was chairman of the BBC from 2004 to 2006 and executive chairman of ITV plc from 2007 to 2009.