26 Anderston Quay, Glasgow. Demolished.
253 Argyle Street, Glasgow. G2 8LY. Closed.
The Arches. 2008.
The Arches is reputed to be one of Scotland’s largest night clubs, with three floors, the top bar is called the Sky Bar.
The Arches officially opened for business as an arts venue in May 1991. The building had originally been converted as a temporary exhibition centre for European City of Culture celebrations in 1990 and some theatre was performed as part of the exhibition’s events.
The exhibition, Glasgow’s Glasgow, ended in November 1990 and the building was returned to a bare, empty space. In early 1991, theatre director, Andy Arnold, took on the lease in his own name and produced two theatre shows for Mayfest, the now defunct Glasgow arts festival. The shows were Noise and Smoky Breath – a devised piece based on a book of Glasgow poems and songs – and the Scottish premiere of Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
A few months later, Arches Theatre was formally established as a registered company and non profit making charity – Andy has been its Artistic Director ever since.
The building was very damp and cold in those days and there was practically no public funding available to contribute to running costs, let alone sort out any building repairs. The feeling was that the enterprise would last only a few months before a commercial developer, night club impresario, or even car parking company would move in to take on the lease. However, an incredible energy immediately enveloped this new arts venue and all who got involved with it.
A constant stream of events of all types were instigated. Arches Theatre Company produced a stream of work including absurd and irreverent theatre productions like Richard’s Cork Leg and Purple Dust and site specific work like The Crucible, Caligari, and Metropolis: The Theatre Cut, which was staged throughout the whole building with a cast of 100 actors and musicians. A new theatrical night club began, Café Loco with cabaret mayhem, Mischief La Bas, Gods of Glam, Stereo MCs, Scottish Sex Pistols, and the like every Saturday night, together with the forerunner of today’s Pressure – the now legendary Friday Night with Slam. Exhibitions and visitor attractions were set up to occupy the largely derelict top half of the building and included Dinosaurs Alive, The Iron Bru Pop Video Exhibition, and an event which quickly acquired cult status – Alien War.
During the first few years, four full time staff were employed, the bar was run by a local publican and any furniture was begged, stolen or permanently borrowed from the likes of Tramway and other public buildings, where old chairs and tables were unearthed from their basements. We felt like squatters in those days – artists and performers claiming an extraordinary home while always feeling that we were living on borrowed time – waiting for the bailiffs to arrive.
Up To Date News:
The Arches have had bad press for over a year now. After the death of a 17 year old Regane MacColl died as a result of taking Mortal Kombat ecstasy. Young people know the dangers of taking drugs in any form. It’s a shame that it takes a death for people to take head of the problem of drug taking in Glasgow’s Night Clubs.
For over 10 years I worked in most of the Night Clubs in the City of Glasgow. On an average night I would be in 6 different clubs. What I noticed very early in my job was that drugs were easily get in all the clubs in town.
The drug dealers in Glasgow had their clubs covered and if another dealer tried to force their way into a club there was war. On many occasions I witnessed many fights and stabbings in and outside clubs where the dealers were protecting their area.
For a drug dealer to have covered a night club meant many thousands of pounds could be made over one weekend.
Different night clubs in different areas in town were covered by different drug dealers. I met a few of them over the years I worked in Glasgow’s nite life. Most of them were very nice and pleasant but if you got on the wrong side of them, well lets say you would be better off not going into town.
Back to the Arches, the police and authorities want to close the night club down. To me I think the authorities want to make an example of the Arches and send a message out to other Clubs in town, if you allow drug dealers into your premises we will shut you down.
Well do you know what a drug dealer looks like, could you spot a dealer in a crowd of a few hundred party goers.” No I didn’t think so.”
When I worked in the clubs I could spot a drug dealer out and I got to know what to look for, but the ordinary clubber couldn’t unless you were an abuser yourself.
For the closure of the Arches will not change anything. The Arches is not just a night club, it is a world-renowned arts centre and vital part of Scotland’s cultural economy.
Sadly closed for good.
Do you have any memories about the Arches? If so please get in touch.
26 Abercorn Street, Glasgow.
Interior view of the Abercorn Bar.
The Abercorn Bar sat at the corner of Abercorn Street and 48 Burnside Street. There has been a public house on this site since 1868. The first licensee was a gentleman called James McPhee, he was no stranger to the licensed trade as he acquired his first licence in 1850 at 6 Brunswick Place. Three years later he was a wine & spirit merchant trading at 83 South Wellington Street, also living on the premises.
In 1863 James had another certificate to sell wines and spirits at 3 Florence Street, Gorbals. James had family members in the licensed trade, Archibald had premises at 70 Abbotsford Place, Hugh was trading at 2 Rutherglen Road.
In 1868 James was trading at 26 Abercorn Street and 3 Florence Street, living at 158 Cumberland Street. A few years later Mr James McPhee was serving the locals at Abercorn Street, 3 Florence Street and 256 London Road in the east end of the city.
Business was booming by the 1870s as James moved house with his wife to 76 Buccleuch Street. Hugh McPhee was trading at 145 Bernard Street.
Mr James McPhee sadly passed away in 1875, his wife Isabella then took over the running of the business. Isabella was running the business successfully until 1886 when her son James McPhee took over the licence’s, by this time he was running Abercorn Street and London Road. James continued in this position till 1898.
His brother John then took over the same year, giving up the pub on London Road to concentrate fully on the Abercorn Street shop and 145 Bernard Street which he took over after Hugh McPhee in 1907. The London Road pub became known as the Tap Bar. John continued at Abercorn Street until 1923.
Other licensee were C J Durken, Angus McDonald, Donald Crerar, Michael McGonigle, Titus Neeson. In 1953 James Millan took over the pub. Mr James Millan was a well-known and respected member of the Scottish Licensed Trade also having the Arcade Bar at Wemyss Street.
James Millan, 1950s.
James Millan, 1960s.
James Millan, cartoon by Coia, 1950s.
After James Millan, William Walker then took over then his wife Margaret took over the licence. The Walker’s changed the name of the pub to the Royal Bar. Margaret was the last licensee before the pub was demolished in the 1960s.
Do you know anything about this pub? If so please get in touch.
Manager of the Abercorn Bar was a gentleman called John Donnelly from 1947 1954 on behalf of James Millan. John then left to manage Burtons at the corner of Union Street and Argyle Street.
Ye Olde Anchor Tavern – Argyle Street, Glasgow.
Ye Olde Anchor Tavern, 1888.
Commissioner Whyte was better known as an accountant than a publican. As Convener of the Govanhill Finance Committee, he was always on demand, constant requests for his service, as the taxpayers had to pay up.
At a Ward meeting in 1887 an extraordinary state of affairs came to light in the financing of the burgh accounts. Mr Whyte, who was one of the representatives of the East Ward and convener of the Finance Committee, expressed dissatisfaction with the form of the statement of accounts submitted on his taking office as convener the previous year and resolved to make a thorough investigation and to unravel what appeared to him to be a mysterious disappearance of a valuable asset.
The result was that an alarming and growing deficit was clearly brought out. Thoroughly convinced that his position was unassailable, he laid his statement before his brother Commissioners, a majority of whom, however, described credited their correctness; but after full, and at times heated, discussions he, as a test, demanded that his statement of accounts should be submitted to a qualified chartered accountant, whose decision he was prepared to submit to as final.
Commissioner Whyte, 1887.
Mr Alexander Murray, C. A., the auditor of the burgh accounts, was chosen, and his report fully bore out all that Mr Whyte had asserted, and the Commissioners were brought to face the fact that there was a deficiency in the Police accounts at the end of the financial year in 1886 of £790 18 shillings 9 pence., which had increased to £881 10 shillings and a half penny in 1887. In order to bring out the position more clearly, he showed that a sum of £2,133 3 shillings and 4 pence., borrowed from the Royal Liver Society, was expended by the Commissioners of Police buildings.
By Act of Parliament the Commissioners were bound to provide for the repayment of this sum from revenue in instalments of one-twentieth part yearly, and an arrangement was made with that society in these terms, so that at the end of 20 years the building would become the property of the burgh free of debt.
In order to provide for this an arrangement was entered into with the County Commissioners, whereby that body took a lease of the premises for 20 years, at a rent to cover interest, fen-duties, fire insurance, and one-twentieth of the capital, thus giving a free asset of £106 13 shillings 2 pence, annually to the burgh; but he was surprised to find that this asset was never accounted for. He found that the surplus which should have appeared in their buildings’ account as a free asset had been appropriated, or perhaps borrowed, for the Police accounts, and this had been going on for the last seven years.
It only remains to be said that Provost Hunter was in entire accord with Mr Whyte, and publicly announced at a ward meeting that they were willing to have the accounts placed in the hands of any qualified chartered accountant, and, if their position was not entirely maintained as the only correct one, they would pay £10 to be given to the poor of Govanhill, provided their challengers, if such could be found, would undertake to be the same if the contrary was proved. This is but part of the good work he had accomplished for the burgh, and it is an open secret he is to run for Bailie at the next election, as on the last occasion he was returned by the greatest majority of any Commissioner.
Mr Whyte’s career as a publican was very short. Ye Olde Anchor Tavern was refurbished when he took over the business. The walls were panelled with beaded teak wood, with tiles denoting the seasons running on top, giving the interior a light clean appearance. The snug’s were similarly panelled, with mahogany tables and upholstered leather seating. The “Meridian” room faced Argyle Street and was very popular with the customers, watching the world go by. The history of the tavern goes back to 1788, the tavern was reached through a close, old men in 1893 still recalled seeing Sir Hew Pollok riding on horseback right up to the door.
The cellars had nine different compartments stocked with the best whisky and ale available at the time including wines and brandies of 1869. All the firms bottling was done here. Long John was a great favourite of Mr Whyte’s as was Cameron Bridge and Glen Ochil. Another new feature of the old tavern was electricity and electric bells in the sitting rooms.
Mr Whyte was born in Glasgow in the 1840s, his grandfather was a native of Appin. Mr Whyte studied Philosophy and Chemistry.
Mr Robert Clachan Kerr was manager of Ye Olde Anchor Tavern in 1888,, he gained his experience and management with George McCallum’sEunson’s Cafe Royal, 311 Argyle Street. Mr McCallum also owned the Caley Bar at the corner of Castle Street and Charles Street and the Artisan, Garngad Road better known as the Big Glen.
Manager Robert Kerr went on to become licensee of Ye Olde Anchor Tavern, his wife Marion took over the business after Roberts death in 1900. A few years later the old pub was closed down however Marion took over another pub at 193 Paisley Road which sat at the corner of Crookston Street, until the end of the First World War.
Ashton Lane, Glasgow. Off Byres Road.
The Wee Pub. 2007.