A NEW appeal has been made to save a historic Glasgow music hall, the oldest in the world from "disappearing forever".

Social historian Judith Bowers who has successfully led campaign to save the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow from demolition is concerned that essential repairs are required for the delicate fabric of the auditorium.

She says there are longer term plans for the Friends of Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust which is running the world-famous Trongate venue that gave Stan Laurel his big break, to buy it and avoid the need for the Mitchell family who own the building to underwrite any funding applications.

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The Trust has relied on grant funding from the likes of Historic Scotland, and the Heritage Lottery Fund and investment from the Mitchells, who own an amusement arcade on the ground floor of the 19th century building.

A more immediate demand is to install a new heavy duty power supply system that can cope with the demands of a 120-capacity Victorian music halls, which was given category A listed building status in 1977.

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While the project may appear minor, Ms Bowers says it is crucial to demonstrate that the building is functional, allowing them to raise more money and pay a mortgage on the property in the future.

An appeal letter has been distributed that spells out they charity's concerns, as the venue that once hosted some of the biggest vaudeville acts from the United States, looks to open all the year round to produce the income it so desperately needs.

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"We still have a long way to go as we still need to rescue the delicate fabric of the auditorium," it says. "Please help us guarantee the survival of this very rare, special and important part of history, which is in danger of disappearing forever."

A group of some of up-and-coming Glasgow bands including Esperanza, Bombskare, The Fast Camels and Dogtooth have already answered the call, and are putting on a fund-raising gig at the Classic Grand in Glasgow on November 19 which they hope will raise thousands to help save the building.

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Ms Bowers, the current director of the project said: "I've stopped it from being burnt to the ground, and demolished, and now I have to ensure its future survival. It will disappear forever if we don't do something about this over the next year or so.

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"What we are trying to do, is raise money to make it a functional auditorium and then we can prove we can afford a mortgage to buy the building into public ownership which means it will be safe forever more.

"If you saw the ceiling, it is desperate. The plaster is in danger of coming down if we don't do something about it soon. It has been up there since 1857.

"And there are big chunks missing at the back of the auditorium which compromises the rest of it. Stuff has been screwed in temporarily to make sure it doesn't collapse.

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"We have done remedial works, to give it some extended time, otherwise it would have gone by now. It has got to the point and the engineer is in agreement, we need to get money raised to get that ceiling absolutely finished, and secure and safe.

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"We saved the stage last year, and now we have to save the rest of the auditorium and buy it."

With annual running costs at £90,000-£120,000, a buy-out could cost around £400,000.

"The Mitchell family can now no longer afford to underwrite any of the applications, which is why we want to buy it off them," added Ms Bowers.

"They want to sell to us because it is too much of a liability for them. We have been working with them for years and we have a good working relationship with them but they can no longer afford the building. They agree with us that it needs to be in public ownership.

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"We have relied on donations for 19 years. Yeah, it's still building at risk until the plasterwork is done, until the auditorium is dealt with."

Esperanza manager Gary Anderson said he hoped the fundraiser can raise between £4000 and £5000 but added: "It's only a drop in the ocean of what's needed."

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"All the bands and musicians involved are friends of mine and I wanted to help Judith at The Panopticon raise some funds and public recognition and awareness of what she and her team have been doing, in trying to restore The Panopticon to its former glory."

Over the years some of the greats of music hall and early cinema history were to tread its boards - Marie Loftus, Dan Leno, George Leybourne, The Great Vance, Jenny Hill, Bessie Bellwood, Harry Champion, WF Frame, Marie Lloyd, Harry Lauder and Stan Laurel. Hollywood legend Cary Grant also appeared on the stage in his former guise as Archie Leach.

In 1997, 59 years after it closed its doors for the last time when it was sold to a tailors and converted to a workshop, the theatre was rediscovered and volunteers began working away ever since to bring it back into use.

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In 2003, the building reopened to the public for visitors to enjoy and since then a team of dedicated volunteers have invested their own time and money to move the project forward.

The Mitchell family were approached for comment.