Sunnyside Street, Coatbridge.
The Tower Bar, with Mr Morrison inlay. 1892.
In 1892 Mr James T Morrison of the Tower Bar, Sunnyside Street, Coatbridge had moved into his new public house. He had taken down the old premises and in it’s place a handsome new red stone building with licensed premises on the ground floor. The Tower Bar was the oldest public house in Coatbridge. The new bar is after the model of the one in the Vale of Leven in Dundas Street now the Vale. Mr Morrison did not hide the fact that he borrowed Mr Campbell’s design, and a better design he could not possibly imitate. The front of the new building is of Ballochmyle Stone. Mr Morrison was a Free Mason and secretary of the bowling club in Coatbridge, he was a staunch Conservative.
Mr Morrison’s father acquired the old premises in 1852 and his son demolished the old building as it was in desperate need of repair, it was cheaper in the long run to raise it to the ground and rebuild on the old site. Mr Morrison was born in Coatbridge a few months after his fathers death in 1861. From the time of his father’s death until he reached the age of holding a licence, the business was carried on by Mr John Lindsay who later became a Bailie.
At the age of seventeen young James entered the office of a wholesale firm in Leith, where he got a thorough knowledge of office and cellar work, afterwards serving some time in the retail both at Edinburgh and Glasgow. He was employed by Mr George MacLachlan of G & J MacLachlan of the Castle brewery and bars, one of the chief firms in the West of Scotland. James later took charge of one of the firms public houses in Govan. Mr Morrison was twenty-one years of age when he took up his father’s business.
Mr James T Morrison.
In 1892 his new bar was fitted up with a fine horse-shoe counter, ornamental gantry occupying the centre, while the walls and ceiling were all lined with pitch pine and with the fine stained glass windows. There were three neat little boxes or snug’s along each side of the bar, having ample sitting accommodation to the back. Upstairs there was one large room, extending the whole width of the pub, and two small rooms, one of which was a smoking-room and his private office.
There was ample cellar accommodation under the premises and customers can be supplied with the best of Edinburgh and Alloa ales. The beer was raised by one of McGlashan’s beer engines and a large cellar situated behind the building was used for the purpose of bottling. Mr Morrison had his own special blend of old Scotch whisky familiarly known as “Morrison’s.” and a special blend called “the Bowlers.” A good stock of wines and liquors of every description in cask and bottles were also stocked including Niblick, Warthington, Salt, McEwan’s.
The architect for the building was Alexander McG Mitchell, Coatbridge and the several contractors for the work were all local tradesmen. This was one of Mr Morrison’s request’s that he wanted the locals involved in the project. James Morrison was a keen bowler and admirer of all athletic sports, he was also an ardent Free-Mason, he always took an active interest in the welfare of the district.
James T Morrison was an active member of the licensed trade in Coatbridge and many social events, he was Secretary and Treasurer of the St Mungo Licensed Trade Victullers Golf Club, Captain of the Drumpellier Club, Treasurer of the Middle Ward and Lanarkshire Bowling Association, Secretary of the Coatbridge and Treasurer of Coatbridge Bowling Club also Secretary of the old Monkland Curling Club. He was also an expert bowler himself with many cups and trophies to his name. That’s probably why he had his own blend of Whisky named after his favourite pastime “The Bowlers” blend od old Scotch Whisky. A very active man indeed, its a wonder he even had time to run his business ventures. Mr James T Morrison died in 1929.
This old historic pub still stands today but under a different name “Shunters’ Bar.”
Images of Shunters’ Bar. 2005.