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The Founding of The Cronies

Cultural Growth & European Theatre

Ye Cronies was founded in the late 19th century on the back of an incredible period of growth for Glasgow, the “Second City of the Empire”, primarily due to the booming shipbuilding industry along the river Clyde.

 

With Glasgow’s increased wealth came a greater interest in the arts, theatre and leisure activities. The fast growing middle-class of Glasgow sought their entertainment from beyond its Scottish borders and saw operas such as from Donnizetti and Bellini regularly selling out local theatres.

Decline of Scottish Arts

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Sadly this interest in foreign musicals saw any music created by Scots, about Scotland, or performed by Scottish artistes relegated to the poorest parts of Glasgow. Local musicians looking to express their Scottish roots were being left to the long-standing “penny greggies” for an outlet and an income.

With this backdrop, it came down to a 26-year-old called James Kerr, from the small town of Shotts near Glasgow to propose the creation of a new Club that focused on entertainment of a strictly Scottish variety.

The birth of a Society

Little is known of Mr. Kerr other than he was a clothier by trade, and that his seed of an idea resulted a number of individuals gathering together on 13th December 1877 to agree on a set of Club rules. Such was the enthusiasm for this idea that the first "General Meeting" of the Club was held just two weeks later on 27th December 1877 at the MacLean's Hotel, 250 St. Vincent Street in Glasgow.

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A Club of Musial Talents 

Ye Cronies concerts were very distinct compared to other musical concerts at the time in that the majority (if not all) performances were provided by its own highly talented group of members. From pianists to singers, poets to composers, the  first two decades of the club's existence saw its Musical Director's write three "Club Operettas", and a "Grand Amateur Concert" open to the public.

One Hundred Year and counting 

At the turn of the century Ye Cronies was positively thriving, with the enthusiasm of its members seeing it continue in some form through both World Wars. Despite facing some challenges in the late 1950s, due to falling membership, the club would re-invent itself and continue on to celebrate its 100th anniversary in magnificent style.

 

Many fascinating characters of Glasgow society, and further afield, have passed through Ye Cronies as performer, member or guest, bringing with them many stories and performances. With the Club quickly approaching its 150th anniversary, its rich history has been recorded in a five-volume history series that can be found at <here>