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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 15/12/1970


  • Local Authority: Glasgow
  • Planning Authority: Glasgow
  • Burgh: Glasgow

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNS 58119 65874
  • Coordinates258119, 665874


Frank Matcham, 1903-04. Edwardian Baroque. Important theatre with outstanding interior. Polished red sandstone ashlar.

BATH STREET ELEVATION: 7 irregular bays with curving lower domed angle bay to Elmbank Street. Wide 2nd and 5th bays, flanked by broad channelled pilasters with medallions. Entrance in 2nd bay, dummy entrance in 5th; semi-circular arches above with recessed windows; shallow bowed and pilastered arched tripartite windows above capped with balustrade; bold, ball finials over pilasters; recessed pediments behind main body of theatre. Entrance bays flanked by narrow bays. 2 central bays with large recessed, multi-pane 1st floor windows and curved balconies; parapet with urns.

ELMBANK STREET ELEVATION: asymmetrical. 3 bays to left balanced with central pedimented bay, 2 arched openings in flanking bays at 2nd floor with recessed windows with balconies.

Variety of multi-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows and timber fixed pane and casement windows.

INTERIOR: foyer: marble lined, coffered barrel-vaulted ceiling, pilasters to stairway, balcony with caryatids. Auditorium: highly elaborate Baroque decoration in fibrous plaster by McGilvray & Ferris. 3 tiers of horseshoe balconies, 2 boxed to ground circle on each side with banded columns and pediments, one box in tier above, 3 shell niches to each side in upper tier; proscenium arch with escutcheon and cherubim. 12-panelled ceiling.

Statement of Special Interest

The King's Theatre opened on 12 September 1904 at a cost of around £50,000 and it is an important example of an Edwardian theatre by the renowned theatre architect, Frank Matcham. It was commissioned by the famous theatre owning and production company, Howard & Wyndham Ltd. It remains largely intact and it is one of the finest examples of a Matcham theatre in Scotland. The imposing street elevation was designed to attract an audience and was built in high quality materials in a style compatible with any large civic building now that in the Edwardian period theatregoing was a respectable entertainment. Comfort for the audience was a priority as was maximising audience numbers. At the King's in Glasgow there is a lavish marble lined entrance foyer with a barrel-vaulted coffered ceiling and this leads onto the highly decorative auditorium. The plasterwork in the auditorium is modelled in fibrous plaster, a Matcham speciality which allowed for more sculptural three dimensional forms to be created. The three tiers of horseshoe-shaped balconies are cutting edge in their cantilevered construction method as this allowed for an unobstructed view of the stage and also created more space for paying customers. When built the King's had seating capacity for 1841. Buildings of Scotland notes that the Adam-style ceilings on the Grand Circle staircase and in its crush bar date from 1914 and are by William Beattie Brown, Howard & Wyndham's architect.

The King's Theatre was sold by Howard & Wyndham in 1967 to the then Glasgow Corporation. Today it is managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group and it remains in the ownership of Glasgow City Council. A programme of refurbishment and restoration is currently underway.

Frank Matcham (1854-1920) was born in Devon and began his architectural career in Torquay. In the mid 1870s he moved to London and worked for the theatre architect Jethro Thomas Robinson. In 1877 he married Robinson's younger daughter and on the death of Robinson in 1878 he inherited his practice when still in his mid-20s. He built up the largest theatre practice in Britain and was an instrumental figure in the surge of theatre-building at the turn of the 20th century. Arguably one of the greatest and most influential theatre designers of his age, he was able to work in a variety of styles and had a particular interest in highly decorative interiors.

References from previous list description: B Aug 29, 1903; B Aug 17, 1904; ed Brian Walker Frank Matcham, Theatre Architect, 1980 pp 145-6.

List description updated as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2010.



3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1908-11); Williamson et al, The Buildings of Scotland - Glasgow (1990) p208; Bruce Peter Scotland's Splendid Theatres (1999) pp117-121. The Theatres Trust (accessed 16 March 2009).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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