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The story of the 200-year-old Glasgow pub loved by Sir Billy Connolly

The story of the 200-year-old Glasgow pub loved by Sir Billy Connolly <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
The story of the 200-year-old Glasgow pub loved by Sir Billy Connolly (Image: Newsquest)

The story of the much-loved Clutha pub in Glasgow.

This week marked a whole decade since the tragic events that befell the beloved Clutha bar in Glasgow.

On the evening of November 29, 2013, a typical Friday night down at the local turned into a nightmare when a police helicopter crashed through the roof, killing ten people and injuring many more.

It was the night that this treasured local pub unknown outside Glasgow made world headlines, but in remembering the sadness associated with the Clutha, we should also recognise the fascinating history of this pub that is worth celebrating.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

The Clutha building dates to before the Battle of Waterloo, when Glasgow businessman Mathew Park built a tenement on the land. The premises was granted a licence in 1819 and adopted many names over the years – The Popinjay, McLaughlin’s, Weemann’s and the Merchant.

The name we all know today derives from the ancient name for ‘Clyde’, and owner Brendan McLaughlin reintroduced the original name in 1990, while the tenements on top of the pub were removed in the 1960s.

Like many pubs in Glasgow, the Clutha’s character became as permanent as the walls, and it garnered a reputation as a social hub frequented by fishermen at the nearby Briggait, lawyers and judges from the nearby court and artists, musicians, and poets.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

In particular, the Clutha became a hotspot for Glasgow’s burgeoning folk music scene in the 1960s. Sir Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty regularly performed as the Humblebums at the pub in their early days.

The Clutha made such an impact on the Big Yin that he was one of the first to lay flowers after the tragedy of November 29, 2013.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

"I was devastated to hear of what happened, like anyone else. It was weird seeing it happening on TV while I was in New York,” he said.

"Everybody's talking about how well Glasgow coped. I was very, very proud to be a Glaswegian.

"The Clutha's got a very special place in my heart."

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Other famous guests who became regulars at the Clutha over the years include Frank Zappa, Woody Guthrie and Spike Milligan.

In the aftermath of the disaster ten years ago, bar owner Alan Crossan turned tragedy into hope with the formation of the Clutha Trust, a charity dedicated to helping young people access the arts, music, and drama.

With plans in motion for a new Clutha, with the construction of a cultural learning hub, apartments, and offices, the Clydeside pub looks like it will be entering a new era.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times: