Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 58119 65874
258119, 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 Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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