Jimmy Logan’s Metropole

Jimmy Logan outside the Metropole
Jimmy Logan outside the Metropole

There was a theatre on site since 1913 under various names. Bought by the popular Glasgow entertainer, Jimmy Logan in 1964, it became known as Jimmy Logan’s Metropole . It was quite a gamble for the entertainer, as buying the building required his life savings plus a substantial bank loan.

The first few years went well, with a number of hit shows and money coming in. Logan had known though from the start that he would required another means of generating income over the summer months, as that had always been a traditionally quiet time for the theatre.

It had been his intention to knock down the vacant building next door (a former hospice) and build an upmarket American bar/diner, and provide cabaret acts. However, these plans fell at the first hurdle when his application for a drinks licence was turned down without explanation. Logan was convinced, rightly or wrongly, that it was because he would have been in competition to the Co-op hall directly across the road. The Co-op was a popular local venue with eating and drinking facilities and Logan believed that a Labour council would not want to have been seen sanctioning such a move

Over the next few years Logan submitted a number of planning application, each one being met with an outright refusal. It later transpired that the frontage of the building had been listed, and that would perhaps help explain why plans to make any alterations were turned down. Meanwhile, Logan struggled on and in 1970 was successful in securing the hit London musical Hair for its first run outside London. The show was a huge success, playing to packed houses for nearly a year. It was just delaying the inevitable though and the theatre closed in 1972.

With hindsight it seems clear that the odds were stacked against Logan’s gamble right from the start. Television and bingo especially were having an impact on theatres right across the country, with former cinemas being turned into bingo halls. Additionally, the Metropole was located in the centre of an area that had been marked out for comprehensive redevelopment by Glasgow Corporation. This resulted in entire streets of tenements being demolished and a massive road building plan around the theatre, as the inner ring road of the M8 was cut through the area.

The local parish priest, a Father Smith, often dropped in for a wee blether and one day said ” you know Jimmy, when I came to this parish I had 10,000 parishioners and now I’ve got 3000.” Thousands of local residents were being uprooted from their tenements into new schemes on the outskirts of the city. A visit to the Metropole would have involved two buses either way or bus and subway. Apart from the travelling time involved, the fares pushed up the cost of an evening at the theatre.

A few years after the theatre closed, the building was gutted by fire. It was was demolished in 1988, with a block of flats being built on the site.