352-356 Townmill Road, Dennistoun, Glasgow.
Many will remember this old pub as Watery Willies. Over the years this pub was known as The White Brig Vaults, Watery Willies, and The Top of the Town.
This history of this old pub can be traced back to 1865 when George Crichton was granted a certificate to sell wines, beers, Spirits and sweets (liquors).
By 1880 George had another public house at 67 Castle Street and was living at 354 Townmill Road right next to his public house. Mr Crichton continued to serve the locals until 1898.
In 1899 Thomas Pringle Young took over the licence, two years late he was also licensee of the Poltalloch Bar, 411 Gallowgate. In 1902 the licence for the pub on Townmill Road was transfered to Margaret Taylor Sinclair Young and paid an annual rent of £39 10/-.
In 1904 Angus Alexander Taylor Sinclair became the owner of the pub which was called the White Brig Vaults, the pub stayed in the same family until the late 1960s, Angus was running the pub up until the First World War, in the 1920s the owners were trading as Young and Company. In the 1930s Mrs Lillian Sinclair was licensee until the 1960s.
In 1973 Bernard Mollduff and Edward Spadi. After renovation and extension to the premises the pub was finally closed for good around 1979.
The pub and owners were frequently in the Glasgow Licensing Courts, in 1916 Angus Sinclair was up against the Courts after the magistrates found the place in a very dirty state, the walls were very badly torn with plaster all over the floor. The building was very old and impossible to keep the walls in good condition.
Angus said to the Courts that the place was cleaned twice a week, and the walls were in a state because of the damp conditions, this is the only place were it is very dirty. The magistrates stated that the licence was granted on the condition that the walls must be improved and you undertake this as soon as possible.
Again in 1920, the Licensing Courts were here again, this time for breach of the Magistrates recommendations, their recommendations being that liquor should not be supplied to customers after the shop doors are closed. At 20 minutes past 8 o’clock on 20th March 1920, the police visited the place after the doors were closed. Afterwards the door was opened and some customers came out. It happen again and some more customers came out.
The door was opened again and the police found after entering that six people were supplied with liquor. Another time it happen again on a Saturday evening when a large rowdy crowd were returning from a Celtic Park football club and they behaved in such a manner that the second hand in the shop were intimidated and they closed the doors at 20 minutes to 8. The police were admitted and with them 6 other people came in, the place was very rowdy with Celtic football fans. Again the licence was granted.
In 1959, Lillian Sinclair was up at Court, she stated that she took over the certificate in 18 March 1931. On the 14th October 1959 at the Central Court Mrs Sinclair pled guilty and was fined £5 or 30 days imprisonment, for having in her licensed premises at 352 Townmill Road at 10.40 pm. on Tuesday 8th July 1958 that outwith permitted hours sold and supplied by the hands of her servants sold a quantity of exciseable liquor to each of the seventeen people for consumption on the premises.
In the NEWS 1975…
They’ve done “Watery Willies ” place proud.
Does the name “Watery Willie’s mean anything to you? Well, if you had anything to do with the coal barges that used to float up the Monkland Canal to Glasgow, it may bring back a few memories.
For “Watery Willie’s” was, in fact, the “White Brig Vaults,” a pub which was often frequented by the men working on the barges.
They would jump off the barge at the pub, have a drink and then run along the banks of the canal to catch up with their vessels. If the bargees came back today, however, the chances are they wouldn’t recognise “Watery Willies.” Since December it’s had a new name, “The Top of the Town” and a lounge has been added to the existing public house.
The men in charge of the “Top of the Town” are Bernard Mollduff and Edward Spadi, who took over the pub about two years ago. Last year they extended the existing premises and on December 10 the lounge bar opened.
Although the two men have made great changes to the pub, they are not content to leave it like that. They plan to have a restaurant and cabaret room eventually, and hope to attract some of the top names in show business to Townhead.
At the moment there is live music in the lounge every night by courtesy of the resident group “The Reflections.” Last Saturday a regular Country and Western session began at lunchtime featuring a well-known group “Jefferson” and every Wednesday evening a talent competition is held.
The Top of the Town also serves lunches in the lounge costing about 40p. That includes soup and a main meal of meat, potatoes and two veg. The lounge itself, helps to further the relaxed atmosphere you will find at the Top of the Town.
Mr Spadi told me they are trying to have a mixture of the old and the new. The historians among us might be interested in taking a look at the pictures on the wall. They show what the place looked like and what it is like now with its white exterior and big bold lettering.
Mr Spadi and Mr Mollduff hope to attract all ages to the Top Of The Town. Our resident group are very versatile and will play music to suit all tastes, when we have carried out further extensions to engage all kinds of acts,” Mr Spadi said.
“That’s partly why we have called it the “Top of the Town.” We hope some day to run on the same lines as the Talk of the Town in London. The other reason we chose the name “Top of the Town” is that its site in Townmill Road is virtually at the top of Glasgow.”
Top of the Town advert 1975.
The Top of the Town advert 1978.