The original building opened in 1934 in a mercantile area east of Glasgow's city centre. The "Barras" street market (more properly Glasgow Barrowland market), after which the area and the ballroom are named, continues until the present day. The Barrowland building includes large street-level halls used for the weekend markets, with a sizeable weatherproof hall above. The front of the building is decorated with a distinctive animated neon sign.
The Ballroom was the leading dancehall in Scotland from its inception. The building was largely destroyed by fire in 1958, leading to a complete rebuild. The rebuilt ballroom opened on Christmas Eve 1960.
Between 1968 and 1969, three young woman, Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock were found brutally murdered after nights at the Barrowland. All three murders were attributed to a man dubbed "Bible John" by police after he was heard referring to the Old Testament to one of his victims. All three woman were raped, menstrabating and all their handbags were stolen. A massive investigation failed to find Bible John, and the murders remains unsolved. On the night of the murder of Helen Puttock, Puttock's sister Jeannie Langford was with her and she spoke to her sister's suspected killer. Jeannie described Bible John as: "25-35 years old, reddish/fair hair, wore a blue suit and matching trousers with white shirt. Spoke very politely and was very religious".
Latterly, with the decline of dancehall and the rise of rock/pop performance, the Ballroom has become a major concert venue. Known for its excellent acoustics (a design imperative for the unamplified orchestras which formerly graced its stage), as well as its sprung dance floor, the Barrowlands has become a particular favourite of many noted rock/pop acts. Although its modest capacity (around 2,100 people) is small compared with several other Scottish venues (the SECC, Ingliston, and various stadia) the Barrowlands punches above its weight in attracting top-name performers, and was recently voted the best music venue in the UK in a poll of British bands, and in another survey amongst bands, was voted second best venue in the world. Simple Minds filmed the video for their 1983 hit single, Waterfront, at Barrowlands and in doing so reintroduced the venue to the UK touring circuit. U2, Big Country and Marillion were a number of the acts to play the hall within its first year.
The Barrowlands has also proven to be a popular venue with successful homegrown talent and in keeping with its location in the East End of Glasgow, the 'Barras' also plays host to various Irish rebel bands throughout the year. This often leads to confrontation, with a large police presence the norm following such concerts.
Ocean Colour Scene played a record 5 consecutive sold out nights in 2001.
Barrowlands has also been listed by many major artists as one of the best small gig venues in the world. Metallica said that the venue, because of its size and nature, made it the best gig they had ever played after their performance there in 1996. In her song Barrowland Ballroom, Amy Macdonald sings that “nothing beats the feeling of the high Barrowland ceiling when a band begins to play”. Of note; Alice in Chains' Live album was predominantly recorded at the Barrowland Ballroom.
Northern Irish Punk Legends Stiff Little Fingers Have Played at the barras for over 20 consecutive years on the 17th of every march and it has become THE gig of the bands tours. They returned for year 21 in 2012 and, despite almost leaving the stage on one or two occasions because of drinks thrown to/at the stage (a common trait of Scottish rock and punk crowds, ironically showing they are enjoying themselves and not, as one may initially think, that they are upset with the performance or performers) they are expected to return the band will return in 2013 for their 22st St Patricks Performance at the Barrowlands, with their committed fans travelling from far and wide to be there.
Currently there are no events for the Glasgow Barrowland .
fantastic glasgow gig from davy 2 shirts, 28/10/13
That was the best gig yet, was there with my beautiful wife and we jumped, bounced, danced and sang all night. The band were incredible , forgotten how many times we have seen the cult but every time they bring the house down and saturday night was no exception. Crowd were great too, looking after one and other, no troubled, no bother just simple a brilliant night. Well done boys, see you next year?