247-49 St George’s Road, Glasgow.
Bell’s Bar. 1964.
This was once called McBeth’s Bar in 1912 until after WW1. Alexander McBeth the proprietor moved here from across the road, where he had a public house from as early as 1891.
Before WW2 George Smith was landlord here, after the war Duncan Smith ran the pub. The last occupier of the premises was a lady called Elizabeth Boyle, the pub was finally demolished in the way of redevelopment when the new motorway was built in the early 1970s.
An Advert for Bells Bar found in Logan’s Theatrical Brochure 1962.
Bells Bar & Lounge. Offers the very best in Wines and Spirits plus an ideal luncheon service to the man in the street or the quick snack for the man in a hurry. Excellent meals served in tasteful surroundings. We cater for theatre parties 30-40 Monday to Thursday. Call now at 247-49 St. George’s Road, Glasgow, C3
THOSE WERE THE DAYS 1960: Maisie, the ‘personality girl’ at Bell’s Bar in Glasgow.
Maisie Malcolm. 1960s.
MAISIE Malcolm was described as “the personality girl behind the lounge bar” by the Evening Times when a reporter visited the newly-renovated Bell’s Bar, in Glasgow’s St George’s Road, shortly before Christmas 1960.
“I don’t know about personality,” Maisie said with a laugh, “but I do know that our clocks run on the correct time.” Ever since a customer had argued with her boss about closing-time one night (the pub’s clock was three minutes ahead of the customer’s watch), Maisie now made sure that she rang the speaking clock – TIM, as it was known back then – each 5pm to ensure that the pub was on the right time.
The lounge featured a fish tank populated by angel fish; the downstairs public bar had a ‘men only’ area, with stools arranged around the bar. A three-course meal could be served, for three shillings and threepence. The whiskies on offer included Lang’s Old Scotch Whisky and Crawford’s. At one point in the interview, Maisie told her boss, Mrs Boyle: “That’s another order for chocolate liqueurs.” The female reporter wondered aloud if this was a “seasonal palliative to soothe the wrath of the little woman waiting at home?” Not really, Maisie explained, but most men were in the habit of taking miniatures home with them – Drambuie, cherry brandy, gin, whisky. Thanks to Russell Leadbetter of the Glasgow Herald.
Bell’s Bar. 1964.
IN THE NEWS 1962…
Two years of work-on a £20,000 face-lift.
Good food and service-with personal supervision.
Timed nicely for the Christmas and New Year season, one of Glasgow’s best known “hostelries” – Bell’s of St George’s Road – emerges in dazzling, new festive garb which has taken almost two years to complete.
And, it can be added, one that has cost around £20,000 to achieve – plus a lot of hard work and thinking on the part of the lively mainspring of the establishment, Mrs Elizabeth Boyle.
Mrs Boyle and her co-director, Mr David Wardlaw, with of course she help of experts, have achieved something of a minor miracle of transformation – one that brings as additional sparkle to the vibrant bustle of life around St George’s Cross.
Advert for Bell’s Bar. 1960s.
This is not just another case of freshening up an old pub, it is a complete rejuvenation by almost complete reconstruction and reorganisation.
But, ingeniously, this has been contrived with the retention of some of the better features of the original establishment.
For in its time – to be a little “Irish” – the old place was ahead of its time.
That, many oldsters insist, was when it was amiably ruled over by that almost legendary Glasgow “mine host” Matthew Reid.
“In fact,” says Mr Wardlaw, “many older folk still refer to it as “Matt Reid’s pub.”
Such was the permanence of the glow cast by that genial host of the old days whose success was due to a simple recipe of personal supervision, good food, drink, and equally good service.
And that, after all, might sum up what the new Bell’s aims to supply to-day.
Towards this end Mrs Boyle, who combines her trade experience with that of running a home made one of her main attacks on the kitchens.
They are now completely renewed and – most important – reorganised to produce good food, efficiently and quickly.
Incidentally, from to-morrow until Hogmanay special Christmas and New Year lunches, with all the trimmings, will be available.
Though Mrs Boyle is concentrating on lunches for the time being she may, in the future, decide to extend the catering side of the business to include evening meals.
“But,” she points out, “we are prepared just now to accept bookings from small parties of up to 50. In fact we intend to make a feature of that kind of thing.”
The upstairs premises are ideally suited for friendly little gatherings – three very attractive bars are cleverly placed to ensure that nobody goes thirsty for long. And space is available for the lounge capacity has been doubled.
Men in a hurry should know that a wide selection of snacks can be had in the huge public bar on street level.
This bar, by the way, is big enough to handle about 300 – with speedy service for all.
“It’s the largest place in the district,” pointed out Mr Wardlaw. But despite its size air conditioning ensures an inflow of fresh air with the extraction of fumes all the time.
Visually too, Bell’s is now a much more pleasing place. From the granite and ply-glass frontage surmounted by the large “BELL’S” sign – double-purpose, it admits daylight to the farthest corner of a large airy lounge there is a lulling harmony of decor.
Full use has been made of wrought iron, wild cherry, oak, and teak to achieve, with the diffused lighting and decoration, an elegant yet essentially welcoming establishment where the CLOCKS ARE ALL AT THE CORRECT TIME. So here, full marks to the firms involved in this re-emergence, J. and R.D. Johnston, the main contractors; Boyle and Brown, electricians, of St George’s Road, and Cosmos Decorators, of Ashley Street.
It was, incidentally, Clarence Elder of Cosmos, who pained for Mrs Boyle the attractive mural for the smaller upstairs lounge. Unofficially entitled “Treble Chance” it brings a glimpse to the cosy lounge of what one might enjoy if one were lucky enough to win that pot of gold.
Mrs Elizabeth Boyle. 1962.
“MINE hostess with the mostest” – that description could fit Mrs Elizabeth Boyle, the dark-haired, bright-eyed little woman who makes Bell’s ring out such a pleasant message.
But one must add that though Mrs Boyle dispenses the “go” and “know how” to the St George’s Road business she is little in evidence, spending most of her time in her office organising the successful and harmonious running of the place.
Harmony is this sense is more than usually important, she emphasises, adding “I have a very Pleasant staff.”
It is not surprising that Mrs Boyle has such an expert understanding of “the trade” when one remembers she was secretary to that “Grand Old Man” of whisky, Duncan MacLeod, of Skeabost.
“Yes, I was with him from 1938 until 1949,” she said, “and very happy years they were too. He was, as nearly everyone knows a very considerate and generous man.
“Even after he died,” she added, “I retained a business connection with the MacLeod family until last year.” Many people, particularly Service men, will remember MacLeod of Seabost’s generous “hand-out” of whisky to serving men passing through Glasgow during the Christmas seasons of 1944 and 1945.
To qualify for a bottle the Service men were expected to be Scottish, and they got their whisky for £1. About 4000 bottles were given away at that price. “Quite apart from the price at all,” said Mrs Boyle. “whisky at that time was practically unobtainable, so you can imagine with what delight they came to claim it.
“I can remember the queues outside the Bath Hotel, which Mr MacLeod then owned.” It was Mrs. Boyle who was responsible for organising that exercise in benevolence – that alone should endear her to those men-at-arms of nearly 20 years ago.
In the 1960s The Bells Bar / Lounge had a popular resident band called “The Cousins” they played Country & Western style Music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.