Glasgow is far from short of places to go for a cold pint, a bite to eat and a good time. You may prefer a sophisticated cocktail bar or a traditional pub, but one bar in the city’s Southside feels like a time capsule.
The category C listed pub The Laurieston on Bridge Street was occupied by Alexander Wiseman in 1836.
Wiseman ran a small business empire in the city, as he oversaw other venues on Carrick Street, Eglinton Street and a wholesale store on Nelson Street.
Wine and spirit merchants the Graham family took over the Laurieston in 1865. They were well-established pub entrepreneurs with pubs in the Gallowgate, Saltmarket, Bell Street, Paisley Road, and High Street, and their London Road pub was also used as their headquarters.
One of the Laurieston’s most remarkable features is its timelessness – it is a pub that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1960s, and so crossing the threshold is like stepping back in time.
A reason for this is that the pub has been in the same family from the 1930s until the 1970s – the Alexanders who took the reins from the Grahams. The Clancy family took over in 1982 and has been there since.
Painted on the brick wall above the pub’s exterior are old-fashioned advertisements for the Glasgow Subway, Universal Covers Ltd and of course Clancy’s oven-fresh pies, for which the old food heater is still there.
The posters were done recently in a move to cover up graffiti but are perfectly in tune with the nostalgic theme.
Inside, there is an island bar stretching the length of both the public bar and the Lounge, with nailed-down Formica tables and curtains.
The walls serve as a map to a time past: photos of old Glasgow and newspaper clippings from days gone by. There is also a jukebox and a radio with a tape deck.
Even if you haven’t been to the pub for a pint and a pie, you may recognise it as it has been featured on the big screen.
It appeared in the 2003 film Young Adam, which starred Ewan McGregor and tells the story of a man who makes a grim discovery while working on the barges on the River Clyde in the 1950s.
More recently, it was used for filming part of the BAFTA-nominated 2018 film Wild Rose starring Jessie Buckley. The same year the film was released, the Laurieston was named the best pub in Glasgow by the Campaign for Real Ale Glasgow and West Scotland branch.
Film crews have been spotted there by Glasgow Times readers multiple times this year, most notably in May when a row of vintage cars, a London double-decker bus and telephone boxes popped up outside.
Glasgow’s local music scene has been influenced by the bar, with the location being used for music videos by local bands The Fratellis and Franz Ferdinand.
More recently, the Laurieston came to the attention of city music fans when members of a record club created an album during the lockdown.
The Album Club would meet regularly at the pub to talk about their love of music, and when their album was released, they wanted its iconic exterior to be its artwork.
The LP sits pride of place on the gantry in the pub as it has a special place in the heart of musician Michael John McCarthy who co-released the album.
He said of The Laurieston: “The hospitality is incredible. I’ve been going for 10 years now. They do the best pint of Guinness in Glasgow.
“It’s a great community of people and it’s probably the friendliest bar in the city.”
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