It was a wretched end for what was once one of the most famous venues in Scotland.

On October 25, 1988, the derelict Apollo theatre on Renfield Street was devastated by fire. The alarm had been raised at 4am and fire crews from all over the city converged on the site. At the height of the fire, eight pumps, four turntable appliances and 60 firefighters were involved.

City-centre roads were cordoned off, and the resulting traffic chaos was felt as far back as the bridges over the Clyde and even on the South Side.

A fire crew raced into the neighbouring St Andrew's House office block and, from the 11th floor, was able to direct a jet of water down into the heart of the blaze. A Senior Divisional Fire Officer told reporters that morning: "The top two storeys and the roof have been destroyed. Fortunately, a concrete floor below the blaze seems to have stopped it going any further.

The Herald: The scene after the blaze in October 1988The scene after the blaze in October 1988 (Image: Newsquest)

"We have had to fight the fire from outside because of the risk of collapse. The building is now very unstable. It has been a very fierce fire, and we expect to be here for most of the day".

Glasgow district council's building control director, Robert McGowan, added: "We have not yet been able to inspect the building internally, but we have had a close-up view from the tenth floor of St Andrew's House.

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"The fire was so fierce that it has blown the roof off. All that remains is a mass of twisted girders". And, indeed, all that remained now was for the building to be torn down.

Eleven months before the blaze, in September 1987, bulldozers had demolished the front and rear of the building, leaving only the huge central portion intact, after building control inspectors had deemed parts of the Apollo to be unsafe.

A spokesman for the department said at the site: "The building has deteriorated very badly. There was considerable wood rot and some of the cross-walls had come away from the main walls. We inspected it yesterday and immediately declared it unsafe".

At that time in September 1987, the building's owners, Ainsley Developments, were in receivership, and it was the Receiver who called in Burnthills Demolition.

A few weeks prior to the demolition, city councillors had given planning permission to a London-based film and cinema company, Maybox, which wanted to build an £8.5m, 14-screen cinema on the site. Maybox had reportedly bought the property for £600,000.

The Herald: Demolition work on parts of the building, in 1987Demolition work on parts of the building, in 1987 (Image: Jim Mackey)

After the blaze in October 1988, it was said that building control officers were believed to have been putting pressure on Maybox to speed up demolition work.

In the book Dear Green Sounds: Glasgow's Music Through Time and Buildings, there's a picture of demolition being carried out on the Apollo in February 1989. By that time, the SECC had been staging high-profile pop and rock concerts for more than three years, and work was progressing on building a new cultural venue - the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - at the top of Buchanan Street. 

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In an essay in the book on the Apollo, the journalist Graeme Virtue notes that the building had been left to rot after its final concert - in June 1985, by the Style Council. The Apollo had been damaged by fire just as it was he writes, under consideration to become a listed site of historical interest.

The site is now occupied by the skyscraping Cineworld cinema and a sports bar and club.

The Herald: The Apollo as it was in 1975The Apollo as it was in 1975 (Image: Newsquest)

Much has been written in the years since about the Apollo. Books have been published, musicals staged. A website and associated Facebook page is awash with fans' and musicians' memories, and lists of every concert ever staged at the venue between 1973 and 1985.

Perhaps its epitaph was best written by the Herald's David Belcher, on the eve of that Style Council concert. Rock fans, he wrote, would look back on the acts they enjoyed at the venue, "remembering the Apollo as cold, dirty, dusty, with broken seats and unhelpfuly surly stewards.

He added: "Yet it did have a certain correctly tatty, devil-may-care, down-at-heel rock'n' roll ambience, an atmosphere ... although whether 'atmosphere' is quite the word for burst sewers, bits falling off walls and rain pouring into dressing-room four floors below the roof ...

"Farewell, Apollo. Maybe we won't be able properly to judge whatever it was you provided until whatever it was has gone".