Shining a light on classic Scots pubs

New CAMRA guide catalogues historic bar interiors

Old Toll Bar
Glasgow’s Old Toll Bar is said to feature one of city’s best intact interiors

By Jack Walsh

A NEW guide aims to shine a spotlight on pubs throughout Scotland which have retained interiors of national, regional or architectural importance.

From the Plough Inn in Rosemarkie, Ross-shire, which features a “virtually intact” front room dating from 1907, to the Old Toll Bar in Glasgow, which was last remodelled in 1892/3 and is said to be one of the last remaining Victorian ‘palace pubs’ in Glasgow, to 1905 in the Borders, which retains its original public bar, the Scotland’s Real Heritage Pubs guide by CAMRA’s national Pub Heritage Group aims to create an up to date “snapshot” of pubs across the country with intact, original interiors.

Building on the last version of the guide (published in 2007), the new publication has identified 112 Scottish pubs – 30 of which are recognised within the 284-strong UK-wide list – with interiors that have remained wholly or largely intact since World War Two; it lists a further 24 that meet some of the criteria and are “of some regional importance”.

Michael Slaughter, editor of the guide, said with many traditional pub interiors having been lost to refurbishments over the years, it’s important to celebrate – and retain – the ones which remain today.

“We’ve had pubs where the interior’s just been swept away; you’ve got pubs that are permanently closed; pubs converted into flats,” he said.

Working with Historic Scotland to help more pubs achieve listed status will also help better protect traditional interiors, said Slaughter, who added that these pubs need to remain viable.

“So visiting them is probably the best way we can keep them there,” he added.

David Agnew, assistant manager of The Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow, told SLTN he is “very pleased” that the pub has been included in the guide.

He added that the bar “is a Glasgow institution, so [we] try and preserve it and keep as close to the way it’s been over the years”.

Billy Thomson, manager of the Market Inn in Ayr, reckons it’s important that traditional pubs are recognised for retaining original interiors.

“You don’t see a lot of right old pubs, especially in a town like Ayr,” he said.

“All the old pubs have all been ripped out and modernised. The great thing about this pub is when it gets done up, it gets brought up to its former glory; it never really gets changed.”

Graeme Ritchie of the Levenhall Arms in Musselburgh said it’s “nice to get a bit of recognition”, adding that the pub’s mahogany bar is the “centrepiece” of the venue.