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With an architectural history spanning the best part of a thousand years, it’s unfortunate, that unlike the other major Scottish Cities, Glasgow's rich city centre heritage trail is often completely ignored and left to deteriorate.
Located on the High Street, the Old College Bar was thought to be the oldest public house in Glasgow, with parts of the building dating back to 1515. The pub’s name is a reference to Glasgow University which, until 1870, was situated close by.
It turns out that the history of this pub may just have been a myth drummed up by the previous owner, the late Ossie Prosser, to drum up trade. In fact, there is no reliable evidence to support the claim that it dates to the 1500’s. Instead, it would seem that the cobble stones in the basement, which an anonymous academic said were the remains of a medieval street, are in fact what is left of a former railway yard, most likely to have been built over during the 1800’s.
The current owner, Colin Beattie, claims the bar has become a political football for commentators and local activists. The bar was closed down in 2013 and planning permission to demolish it and build a multi-million-pound student accommodation was logged with the Council.
However, a few weeks later, the bar was open again, and still is, minus the plaque which used to be above the entrance, which read: “Glasgow’s oldest public house. Ancient staging post and hostelry”.
The entire row of buildings were demolished in June 2021 following an fire on Tuesday 4th May. Many parts of buildings had lain unoccupied for many years, particularly the North end where Holroyd Art Gallery and framers used to be. A report made not long before the fire stated the buildings were in a 'sorry state' but not 'dangerous and beyond repair'. The site is now earmarked for a new complex of 239 build-to-rent flats with roof-top terraces.