Glasgow's oldest bar frequented by Sir Billy Connolly celebrates birthday
IT is located on one of the four original streets in Glasgow and welcomed its first customers in 1792.
As Glasgow's oldest surviving pub it is has welcomed clientele from sailors to merchants and was also one of the venues where Sir Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty first performed.
Now the Scotia Bar in Stockwell Street is celebrating its 230th birthday with a celebration weekend to mark the milestone anniversary.
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It was established when the Clyde was a thriving waterway, and the pub’s regulars consisted of sailors and merchants.
In more recent times, the Scotia Bar, now owned by Belhaven, became known for its arts scene, as the hub of Glasgow's 1960s and 1970s folk revival and it hosted many poets, writers and actors during this period, including Connolly and Rafferty.
In its early years it was popular with workers and seamen from the docks and shipyards along the Clyde, and passengers on the busy ferries that stopped nearby.
In 1862 it acquired a new neighbour when the Scotia Music Hall, later the Metropole, opened its doors, and the bar was frequented by both performers and audiences. Despite its popularity, the inn closed in 1906.
In 1929 the Scotia reopened under new management, refurbished in a mock-Tudor style. The 1960s and early 1970s saw the Scotia become a haven for writers, folk singers and socialist political groups. It closed its doors for a period in the 1970s before reopening once again in 1987 and re-established its reputation as a meeting place for those with an interest in music, literature and politics, as well as food and drink.
To celebrate the major birthday, the Scotia Bar will be holding a special weekend event at the pub, starting on Friday and with live music on Saturday beginning at 2pm. A charity raffle will also take place on Saturday night, with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support, with prizes including guitars, overnight hotel stays.
Vicky Clark, the General Manager at the Scotia Bar said: “We are so excited to be celebrating the Scotia Bar’s 230th birthday this month and we are thrilled to be able to work in such an important piece of history. The team are looking forward to welcoming our regular guests and new ones who want to celebrate the pub’s birthday with us.”
The Scotia Bar has also teamed up with Scottish whisky distillery Glen Scotia for a sampling session at 3pm on Saturday 27. Guests will have the opportunity to try drams from the Campbeltown-based distillery, which currently holds the title of Whisky Distillery of the Year from the Scottish Whisky Awards.
Iain McAlister, Master Distiller at Glen Scotia, said: “Like Glen Scotia, the Scotia bar has a remarkable history to be very proud of, so we’re delighted to be joining up for this special occasion. Congratulations to all who have made the bar such a great success over the years, we’re looking forward to celebrating – with the finest drams and beers – later this month.”
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For many the years the now lamented Old College Bar in High Street lay claim to being Glasgow's oldest bar. However, the former owner of the bar, which was demolished after a fire ripped through buildings it was connected to in 2021, said the history of Glasgow's oldest pub may have just been a myth drummed up to boost trade.
A plaque on the exterior of The Old College Bar read it's "Glasgow's oldest public house (built circa 1515) Ancient staging post and hostelry".
Former owner Colin Beatie, however, revealed that it may only have dated back to the 1800s adding the supposedly "medieval" foundations it rested on were nothing more than the cobblestones of a Victorian railway yard.
Scotland's oldest pub is said to be The Sheep Heid Inn, in Duddingston, Edinburgh. It is believed to have been the site of a hostelry since the 1360s. However, the current building is only 300 or so years old.
It is believed the bar here has been propped up by no less than two queens spanning across four centuries, the first, Mary Queen of Scots, and the second, Queen Elizabeth.