Glasgow bar owner admits there's 'no reliable evidence' pub is city's oldest

The man running what was previously said to be Glasgow's oldest pub has admitted that there's "no reliable evidence" to support the claim that it is.

Published 2nd Apr 2018
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

The Old College Bar which can be found on the city's High Street has a plaque above its door which proclaims it to be “Glasgow’s oldest public house, ancient staging post and hostelry” and is said to have parts of the building that date back to 1515.

However, owner Colin Beattie has admitted to the Daily Record that the pub probably only dates back to the 19th century and that the idea of it being built in the 1500s was a "myth confected by its previous owner" the late Ossie Prosser, who urged Beattie to hide the truth as it was "good for business".

The idea that it may actually date back to the 1800s is backed up by the fact that the name is a remainder from the days when the University of Glasgow's Old College campus was based on the High Street (where it stayed until 1870) and that the sign outside the pub says "established 1810".

The bar, which is a popular landmark in Glasgow, was threatened with demolition a few years back and only saved when the contractors relented and pledged to save the unlisted pub.

Structured House Group, who plan to build a 12-storey complex on the site to meet a burgeoning demand for student accommodation in Glasgow, agreed to refurbish the bar as part of their designs.

Mr Beattie added that the claims that the cobble stones found in the basement were  the "remains of a medieval street" were also false and that they were in fact actually what was left of a former railway yard.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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