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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


The Royal Highlander.

41-43 Maryhill Road, Glasgow. also known as 281 New City Road.

The Royal Highlander

The Royal Highlander. 1960s.

The Royal Highlander sat near to the junction where Maryhill Road and St. George's Road met.

In 1890 William Strang operated a fine Glasgow pub from these premises. The address was then 281 New City Road, Mr Strang had one of the best bar in the area. The two large plate glass windows attracted new customers to have a refreshment in his new premises. Passing inside the bar stretched the full length of the shop. Behind the bar there was a large mirror, and opposite to it on the other side another encased in carved mahogany. Every article of furniture was the best of mahogany, bar, chairs and tables.

Strang's Bar

Strang's Bar. 1891.

To the south of the bar was a large sitting room, richly upholstered, decorated with pictures and other ornaments and capable of accommodating fifty people.

On the right hand side as you enter there was Mr Strang's office and opposite this was the family department (off-sales,) completely isolated from the bar. Also on the right had side was a large stove.

Crystal and glass was a feature on the gantry, all the best liquor was kept at Strang's, in the cellar the cellar man would be busy bottling Barclay & Perkins stout. The gantry had large casks of Martell's fine old brandies, John Haig's famous old Glenlivet whisky. The bar also stocked Bass, Salt, Eadie and Burton ales and Oswald Paterson stouts, Petershill, a large stock of bottled beers also filled the shelves.

William Strang was born in 1865 in East Kilbride, where his father was a farmer, at the age of 14 he came to Glasgow working in many of the bars in the city. He was a member of the Trade organisation's and took a keen interest in all trade affairs.

In his spare time he loved to stroll in the country with his pet dog.

Strang gave up these premises a few years later, John Muir Cowan then took over the establishment.

John M Cowan was born in 1858 and brought up in the old burgh of Lanark. One of his first jobs was in the Caledonian Railway Company, after six years service he was presented by the company with a writing desk and Mrs Cowan with a pair of bracelets.

He then purchased a licensed restaurant at 16 Canning Street now London Road, east end. This was the only restaurant in the area from Glasgow Cross and prospered. He lost the restaurant as a result in the Central Railway Company, constructing the line which passed right through his premises. He had no lease and was evicted without any compensation, although he had paid a considerable sum in name of goodwill.

He then joined the staff of Dunn & Brown as a traveller, this firm represented the old distillers, John Haig & Co., Markinch and the Wellshot Brewery. In 1893 John was granted the licence for premises at 281 New City Road, formerly Strang's.

Mr Cowan was well known in the east end of the city, he was in office of the divisional secretary of the Defence Association for several years.

Mr Cowan lasted only a few years in these premises, however he did move on to own two other bars in the city, one at St. George's Road and the other in Ronald Street.

In 1896 Michael Morrison took over the pub, he left around 1906.

David MacDonald acquired the licence from 1907 and continued until after the First World War.

During the 1930s Donald McNab was running this pub, he also owned pubs in Crown Street and Rutherglen Road.

The pub was extended and refurbished on 24th November 1949 by licensee William Russell. A new cocktail bar and lounge was created by the acquisition of an adjacent shop. New wood panelling was used in the refurbishment, red hide chairs in the bar was used with blue hide chairs in the lounge. Mirrors adorned the walls which gave the new lounge a larger feel to it.

The Royal Highlander interior

Interior view of the cocktail lounge of the Royal Highlander 1949.

Mr Russell belonged to a family long established in the licensed trade in Invergowrie, where his brother held the licence for the family business. For many years Mr Russell was a top executive of the Denham Studios and for some ten years he travelled extensively in Paris.

During the First World War he served with the Glasgow Highlanders, being subsequently commissioned to the Black Watch. When the Second World War broke out he acquired Craiglea Hotel, Troon, giving it up to take over the Bell Rock Bar, 631 Scotland Street. A year later he acquired the Maryhill Road establishment, the Royal Highlander.

The new cocktail bar and lounge was opened by J M Ironside, manager of William Younger and Co., Ltd.

The Royal Highlander interior1

Mr William S M Russell on the right hand side sitting with Mr James M Ironside next to him. This picture was taken at the opening of the new lounge 1949.

Scotland was handicapped by the existing licensing laws and they had not the same incentive towards developing their premises as in England. South of the border, the licence was attached to the property and if a licence became redundant the licensee was compensated. In Scotland they had no such security.

Eric D Simpson acquired the licence in 1968 and continued as licensee until the 1970s.


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