In 1867 James Baylis took out loans of £14,000 – the equivalent of £640,000 today – to build a theatre at the top of Hope Street. The building opened on 28 November 1867 as the Royal Colosseum & Opera House. Baylis charged the 3,000-strong audience between 6d and 2/6d to watch an evening’s entertainment.
The theatre added to the success that Baylis and his wife, Christina, enjoyed from their two other theatres in Glasgow; the Milton Colosseum and the Scotia Music Hall. However, in 1869 Baylis decided to lease the running of the theatre to William Glover and George Francis.
Glover and Francis had previously run the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, which was demolished to make way for Glasgow’s expanding rail infrastructure. When Glover and Francis took over Baylis’ Hope Street theatre, they brought with them the Theatre Royal name and Royal Charter – a licence from the crown permitting the theatre to entertain. From then on, Baylis’ Royal Colosseum & Opera House was known as the Theatre Royal.