IT is the world's oldest surviving music hall and unique in Glasgow for another reason. The Britannia Panoptican is one of the only entertainment venues in the city that hasn't got up in flames.

It survives,"by fluke", according to Judith Bowers who has led the campaign to keep the building open.

With 1500 men cramming in every evening to watch the dancing girls - at its height in the 1880s and no indoor toilet - it was simply too sodden to ignite.

Glasgow's first ever entertainment venue - a small wooden hut situated near to where Glasgow Cathedral - lasted just 24 hours before it burned down in the 1750s. Centuries later the legendary Apollo - which played host to the Rolling Stones and Abba, caught fire before it was demolished in 1989 as did the original Barrowlands.

Just a few of the fascinating little nuggets I learn on a brand new walking tour celebrating Glasgow's world-famous music venues, past and present.

The tour is being led by renowned music journalist Fiona Shepherd, who has launched Glasgow Music City Tours with Jonathan Trew and Alison Stroak. With more than 25 years experience writing about the city's music scene, there is nothing (or very little) Fiona can't answer. And if she doesn't know, she promises to find out.

The tour has been specially tailored for the Merchant City Festival, taking in some of the city's oldest streets, but a similar one will continue to run after the festival ends.

A separate one will focus on the famous venues of the city centre, taking in the Apollo, King Tuts and the Royal Concert Hall.

Fiona says: "Glasgow is really celebrated around the world as a great music city: known for the talent of the musicians we produced, for the breadth and quality of the venues that we have and for the passion of our audiences.

"It is a city built and populated by people of many nationalities all bringing in their different musical traditions. Gaelic song came in to other parts of Scotland following the Highland clearances and as a port Glasgow is very well placed to absorb sounds from overseas so it's kind of where we get our taste for soul and blues and country music."

We begin at the City Halls, Glasgow's oldest surviving public entertainment space. Opened in 1841, it was considered an advert for the city's merchantile prosperity.

The halls became well known for having fine acoustics for orchestral performances and is now the home of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra. We then make a brief visit to the halls "funkier younger brother" the Old Fruitmarket.

Next stop is the Panoptican, entered down a side-street in Trongate. I'm really looking forward to this part of the tour as I've never been inside the building, which opened in the late 1850s.

We are lucky enough to hear from Judith Bowers, who has led the restoration campaign. Stan Laurel and a young Carry Grant are among the bigger names that braved the primarily, male, Glasgow audience.

She said: "This was probably the roughest house in Glasgow. There is a quote from the 1880s, "they left no turn unstoned." It was known for being a wild audience.

"Women didn't really go unless they were prostitutes.

"The men would throw shipyard rivetts at the acts."

No tour of this part of Glasgow would of course be complete without a trip to Barrowlands, the venue beloved of bands - both Oasis and Metalica have said it is their favourite place to perform.

Fiona breaks up the history with stream of funny anecdotes and quizzes. Who switched on the famous Neon sign? No one guesses that it was comedian Russ Abbott.

The Scissor Sisters have reassured the people of Glasgow that they need not fear if the building is every threatened with closure because they would buy it.

Artists are known to steal the stars from their dressing rooms.David Bowie keeps his in his Paris bathroom. Fiona reveals she has been given her own "for long service to the Barrowlands." (En route to the venue we also learn that the Saracen Head's famous patrons include Charles Dickens.)

Fiona said: "Barrowlands had a long and colourful history before it opened as a dedicated rock venue. It was linked to the Barras market which opened in 1921 by Margaret McKeever who was a fruit seller. She put a second storey onto her market to create a function suite, which opened in 1934.

"Billy Blue and the Bluebirds were the first house band.

"The building that you see today opened in 1960. This was still really the heyday of the dance hall.

"Billy Haley and the Comets played here, as did the Rolling Stones. Apparently they were paid £5. Barely enough to cover Keith Richard's post gig kebab."

From here, the tour takes in Barrowland Park and the public artwork designed by Turner prize nominee Jim Lambie, which honours the bands who have played the famous venue. We are invited to share our own experiences of standing amongst the smashed plastic glasses. The Verve's 1997 gig is among my own personal favourites.

Our final destination takes us to the corner of King Street and Osborne close to where Postcards Records was launched by Edwyn Collins.

A strange (and brilliant) thing happens when you do a 'touristy' thing in your home city. You start to see the city through a newcomer's eyes. On my walk back to the office I find myself marvelling at the diversity of independent shops, galleries and buildings in the Saltmarket, and the vibrancy and history of the city I made my home.

Merchant City Festival tours: July 31 and August 2. Twitter: @GlasMusicTour