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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan



42 Jamaica Street, Glasgow. G1 4QG.Tel: 0141 248 8581.

3.5 Star rating


MacSorley's. 1991.

There has been licensed premises here since 1861. Known as the Clan Vaults Philip MacSorley took over the old premises in 1897 and built a new tenement with a pub on the ground floor on the site of the old pub.

The old Clan Vaults was entered from Jamaica Street by a very elegant tiled entrance, under the sign of the Golden Grapes, there was a snuggery on either hand, while in front was a screen to shield those at the bar from the vulgar gaze of the passers-by, on whose painted glass panels was inscribed the words, "Clan Vaults," and pictures of the Camel's Head (Mr Edmiston's trade mark,) which, with design in flowers, fruits &c., formed a very striking feature of the pub. In front of you was not a horse shoe, but a half moon bar fitted with all the most recent modern aids to those in charge, in the way of cork-drawers, pumps, &c.&c. The bar proper, that is, behind those behind the counter, contains barrels of a quaint design with silver hoops, forming, with the bottles and coloured glasses, an effective background.

The premises were entirely repainted in 1891, outside and in, and the handsome Japanese paper on the walls gave an air of richness, warmth and comfort. Passing in, on the right hand is the gentlemen's lavatory, light, airy and roomy. While in a sheltered nook a dram and social crack can be had openly at a little round table in the Continental style.

Midway in the passage, between the ordinary and first class bars, is the ladies room, specially fitted up for their convenience, an important desideratum too often over-looked. On the opposite side is a large, well-appointed room, called No.2, but pass on, and into, the first-class bar, only stopping to admire the Ann Street entrance. Entering no5 Ann Street, the Clan Vaults was engraved on a marble floor as you go in. This bar like the front bar was a half moon shape, and was one of the most elegantly appointed in the city. The counter was overtopped with white marble, while the walls were enlivened by elegant, mahogany cased plain mirrors. Merely glancing at the handsome plush upholstered furniture also of mahogany, and remarking the fireplace with its painted tiles. Civil young ladies were employed as waitresses.

MacSorley's opened in 1899, situated at the corner of Jamaica Street and Ann Street. The interior had a large mahogany oval shaped bar counter with neat little recesses which could hold parties of five or six. At the further end a smaller snack bar and oyster counter had been fitted. Electric lights were installed and a new heating system fitted, the massive cellar was now underground with an extensive kitchen and the new toilets were the most up-to-date in town.

In 1904 MacSorley's had a reputation of being the quickest service restaurant in the city. A dining room and grand smoking room was soon added with a room for the ladies as well as an American cocktail bar. All the best drinks were served here including Champagne and MacSorley's special blend of Peacemaker whisky. MacSorley owned other city pubs including Maitland Street, Garngad, the Hampden Vaults, Crossmyloof, Holland Street and Dumbarton Road.

Malcolm McIntyre took over after MacSorley in 1910. Mr McIntyre and his father came to Glasgow from Stornoway, where they had carried on a very successful hotel business. On arriving in Glasgow they soon purchased Lauder's Bar, Sauchiehall Street and MacSorley's, Jamaica Street together with another pub at Anderston Cross with Archibald Lauder's wholesale business in West George Street.

In 1920 they disposed of the retail business while retaining the wholesale department of Lauder's famous "Royal Northern Cream."

Malcolm's sister ran the Royal Station Hotel, Forres. his entire family seemed to be involved with the licensed trade at some time in their lives.

Malcolm died in 1932 after a long visit to Canada where he had important interests. Shortly after his arrival in Glasgow he was taken ill and died as a result.

Montego Bay

During the 1980s the pub was known as Montego Bay.

MacSorleys Bar 2008

MacSorley's Bar. 2008.

MacSorleys window

One of the etched glass windows in MacSorley's. 2008.

I received an email from MacSorley's Bar on 9 December 2009, the pub has been refurbished and opened again which I'm sure will be a great success as a music venue. On refurbishment the old floor was lifted and the mosaic tiled floor which had been underneath the floorboards for many years.

Good Luck in your new venture. CHEERS.


Update 12/12/2013...

Michael Smith is the owner of one of Glasgow's best known live music bars MacSorley's.

Good Luck to Mr Michael Smith.

If you are one of the few people who have never been in MacSorley's Bar then you are missing out in one of the best live music bars in town. Great Music, live entertainment, and very reasonable prices.

Update 03/04/2015...

I bought this vesta case (tin matchbox) on Ebay recently...

MacSorley's vest cash tin matchbox

MacSorley's tin vesta case (tin matchbox) this box is over one hundred years old.

Update January 2016...

One of Glasgow's most iconic pubs is set to close next month. MacSorley's on Jamaica Street has been a local favourite for music lovers for over 100 years!

A statement from the manger confirmed the grim news "We are sad to announce the closing of the doors, fittingly on Sunday 14th February. In the spirit of THE LAST WALTZ the weekend will feature all the usual suspects as well as some very special guests. Please join us and show some love as we say goodbye.”

Hopefully someone will take over this premisis as a pub and keep the great history alive.

Update September 2016...

I received an email from JB that MacSorley's opened at the end of June 2016: Hi John
Enjoyed your info on Macsorleys on Jamaica street.
The pub re-opened at the end of June 2016,
I'm not to clued up by whom but...
There's live music on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
Including 3 acts on Saturday & Sunday.
Jazz on Saturday afternoon - was a trio followed by a big band this Saturday, then s rock band in the evening.
Sunday is tribute day, two acts in the afternoon then one in the evening.
Full info available on facebook "macsorleys2016"

We at oldglasgowpubs will give MacSorley's a surprise review soon.

If you have anything you would like to add just email me at john@oldglasgowpubs.co.uk

Click here to read review for this pub


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