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The Old Fruitmarket Disabled Access & Wheelchair Accessibility Review

The Old Fruitmarket is a concert hall, which is part of the City Halls. It was a market in the 1970s; now it’s a lovely venue for weddings, concerts, and BBC Scotland’s annual Hogmanay Party. Here is my review of disabled access and wheelchair accessibility at The Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant City, Glasgow.

View of The Old Fruitmarket from the accessible balcony area.

Booking Accessible Tickets at The Old Fruitmarket

Booking accessible tickets at The Old Fruitmarket was straightforward. I can’t tell you how much I love when that happens. Glasgow Concert Halls is the website for The Old Fruitmarket, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any accessibility information. I headed to Euan’s Guide website and had a look through the reviews.

Update 2023: There is now accessibility information on the Glasgow Concert Halls website.

Picture This gig ticket laying on a coloured geometric surface.

After reading the reviews of the venue I decided to call the venue for more information and book my tickets. The call lasted 3 mins 20 seconds. Amazing. The person I spoke to was lovely and explained that I would receive a free PA ticket and that our seats would be in the accessible stalls.

Disabled Parking at The Old Fruitmarket

Glasgow is really convenient for us so we drove through and found nearby on-street parking with our Disabled Blue Badge.

Glasgow Queen Street station is a 10 minute walk from the venue so easy to get to if you are arriving by train. Central Station is also within walking distance and around 10 – 15-minute walk.

If you prefer to arrive by car, there is an NCP on Ingram Street, right next to the venue. The car park has an amazing street art mural so it definitely stands out.

NCP car park outside The Old Fruitmarket showing amazing street art mural.
NCP car park outside The Old Fruitmarket showing amazing street art mural.

Wheelchair Accessibility & Accessible Seating

Access to The Old Fruitmarket is easy and step-free. We headed for the Box Office as we didn’t receive our tickets in the post. It wasn’t a problem though and the staff member printed them straightaway for us.

There was another staff member standing waiting to escort us to the lift and to the accessible balcony area. The lift was spacious and could easily accommodate two wheelchairs and a few companions.

Emma being shown to the balcony area by a member of staff via lift.
Emma being shown to the balcony area by a member of staff via lift.

Accessible Balcony Area

The first thing I thought when I saw the accessible balcony area was how much space there was. There was only one other wheelchair user, so there was plenty of space. A retractable tape barrier was in place behind us but not pulled all the way across so we weren’t fully enclosed, which was great. This meant we had room to move around and for getting out if going to the toilet etc.

I really liked this set up of having the retractable tape barrier behind us for that extra bit of breathing space. I wished they did this at O2 Academy and O2 ABC Glasgow as people stand right up against the back and sides of my wheelchair, I always feel crammed in and unable to move.

Emma sitting in the accessible balcony area.
Emma sitting in the accessible balcony area.

View From The Accessible Balcony Area

As much as I loved the space in the accessible balcony I really didn’t like the view from there. My view was restricted because of the balcony railing in front of us. It was right at eye level.

At first, I found myself bending my neck down to see under it, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that for long. We moved back a little hoping that would give us a better view but it didn’t improve much.

The view of the stage restricted by the balcony railing at The Old Fruitmarket.
The balcony railing at The Old Fruitmarket ruining the view of the stage.

It wasn’t just me that was struggling with the balcony railing though. Despite Allan being over 6 feet he also couldn’t see the stage comfortably while seated. The other wheelchair user also couldn’t see but luckily her wheelchair was able to rise up to give her a better view.

There was another couple in the accessible area that sat in seats and they too couldn’t see the stage without bending their necks down to see under and through the balcony railings.

The only saving grace was the projector screen hanging above the stage. This allowed us to see what was going on on stage, but because it was a projector, the quality wasn’t great, so it might be difficult for people with visual impairments.

Allan needs to wear glasses for distances but can manage without if he doesn’t have his glasses with him. He didn’t have them with him at the Old Fruitmarket so did struggle to focus on the screen.

Accessible Toilet

The accessible toilet is very close to the balcony area which is great. We wanted to take a quick snap of the toilet before leaving but just as we approached we saw five girls all going into the accessible toilet at the same time.

The accessible toilet doesn’t have a RADAR key lock, which I think would be a very good idea if it did. Unfortunately, we couldn’t wait around for all five girls to come out of the accessible toilet so we had to leave.

Picture This

Picture This is an Irish band with a pop-rock sound and had recently released their second album MDRN LV. I’ve enjoyed their music for the past year, particularly their self-titled debut album so was keen to see them live when it was announced they were coming to Glasgow.

The band Picture This on stage at The view from The Old Fruitmarket.
Picture This on stage at The view from The Old Fruitmarket.

I hate to admit this, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the gig. I mean, seriously, I don’t think I have ever given a bad or even slightly bad review of a band on my blog. We both left the gig feeling a bit deflated.

I think the poor view didn’t help, but in terms of the actual performance, we felt like the band were trying too hard. Frontman Ryan Hennessey was a bit of a show-off, which didn’t impress me much. The set didn’t get us going or have us wishing they’d sing a few more songs.

Final Thoughts

The Old Fruitmarket is a beautiful venue with coloured lights that softly illuminate the balcony and ceiling. I found it easy to book accessible tickets and appreciated that they offer a free PA/carer ticket. Access to the venue is very good and the staff were friendly while escorting us up in the lift and to the balcony area.

Unfortunately, the balcony view is a disappointment for wheelchair users, companions, and anyone who requires seating in the accessible area. A small raised platform could make all the difference in terms of providing an unobstructed view of the stage. Because the accessible toilet is not RADAR key operated, I believe it could be used by people who do not require it. I saw five girls enter the accessible toilet at the same time.

Update: Since attending this gig, I have been to another show at The Old Fruitmarket. This time it was a seated gig and we were downstairs and in the front row. You can read my review of the accessibility at that gig at the link below.

Old Fruitmarket Glasgow Wheelchair Access Review

Have you been to The Old Fruitmarket? How did you find disabled access and wheelchair accessibility?

Where Next: You Might Also Enjoy

O2 Academy Glasgow Disabled Access & Wheelchair Accessibility Review

SWG3 Glasgow Disabled Access & Wheelchair Accessibility Review

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for that Emma. I’ve never been in there since I was able-bodied. I’ll be bearing your findings in mind once again.

  2. I really enjoy reading your reviews. My daughter and I love going to gigs as you do and as she is also a wheelchair user, we face all the same issues that you write about. It’s astonishing that many venues do not seem to even consider seated sight lines and consider it ‘Job Done ‘ if they cordon off a section in front of a railing for their wheelchair customers. My recent experience at the O2 for The 1975 astounded me to see 80% of the people in the accessible seating area had no mobility issues (including one person who stood and danced for the entire show- and they were not a carer I might add ). Worse than having the accessible section at the back and poorly thought out, is the blatant abuse of these limited areas by people that do not need step free access and for whom an ordinary seat is perfectly adequate.
    Keep up the great work with these helpful and enjoyable reviews.

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