The history of Glasgow O2 Academy


Today it’s home to some of the world’s most popular bands and singers, but Glasgow’s O2 Academy hasn’t always been known for its sold-out gigs.

The Gorbals Building originally served as a church and it reopened in 1921 as the Bedford Cinema. The venue hosted over 2,000 moviegoers per show, but was fairly unremarkable to watch until it underwent a major makeover.

It was remodeled in its now iconic Art Deco style and debuted as the New Bedford Cinema, opening to the public on Boxing Day 1932.

Glasgow's glamorous Art Deco cinema transformed into a popular concert hall

READ MORE: The story of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

The last showing at New Bedford was a double showing of Dirty Harry and Kluke in 1973. It received a new lease of life when it opened a few months later as a bingo hall.

Although it has changed in appearance and purpose over the years, the New Bedford has become a treasured feature of Glasgow’s architecture and has been designated a Grade B listed building by Historic Scotland.

The biggest change of all would come at the turn of the 21st century when the McKenzie Group bought it out to turn it into a concert hall. They spent £3million restoring the nearly 200-year-old building, which had fallen into disrepair, and in 2003 it became the Carling Academy.

Glasgow's glamorous Art Deco cinema transformed into a popular concert hallnewsquest

Carling Academy’s opening in 2003 was marked by performances from Deacon Blue, Bryan Ferry and the Sugababes, and over the years the academy has had some memorable musical moments.

The Killers’ 2006 concert sold out in three minutes, and American soul legend James Brown performed his last concert in the UK the same year.

It was renamed in 2008 after O2 announced it was sponsoring all Academy venues in the UK, including the O2 ABC on Sauchiehall Street which closed in 2018 due to a fire which caused the collapse of its roof.


Comments are closed.