There is some debate over which is the oldest pub in Glasgow. The Scotia Bar in Stockwell Street proclaims itself as such. The Curlers’ Rest in Byres Road is pretty old, but when it was established Glasgow only extended about as far west as Buchanan Street. John Gorevan of Old Glasgow Pubs knows more about this argument than anyone, and he says the oldest pub in Glasgow is the Old College Bar, which is good enough for me.
There are a still quite a few pubs around the area the city’s marketing department calls the Merchant City which have appeared immune to the process of gentrification (this gentrification is, of course, the same process which we can thank for establishments such as Babbity Bowster and Café Gandolfi). The Old College Bar is one of them. When it first opened, it tempted the students of Glasgow University across the road. When the University moved to the West End, a huge goods station took its place until that too disappeared due to the shift of freight off the rails.
Now the pub is surrounded by student accommodation and seemingly interminable construction work on startup incubators. It appears the block on which the Old College Bar stands is to be wiped out to make room for more such.
|The corner of High St and George St in 1930. On the far left is the British Linen Bank building and the Old College Bar|
is on the ground floor of the tenement next to it.
|Photo showing the proposed phases of demolition. Bizarrely, the two shops outlined in magenta |
are to be retained. Picture from planning application.
But still, it’s the oldest pub in the city. Is that worth nothing? I know Glasgow specialises it demolishing itself, and yet: would any other city just rip such a pub down without a second thought?
More on the subject from Bar Biographer here.