Gone but never forgotten: the famous - and sometimes infamous - Glasgow pubs and clubs you'll remember

Glasgow is as famous for its nightlife as it is for its shopping and its football teams. Some of Scotland’s best known pubs and clubs have made their homes here, however many have fallen by the wayside and its these famous – and sometimes infamous – venues we take a (perhaps rose-tinted) look back at.

The Shack/Trash

(Pitt Street, City centre)

Now just a hole in the ground, the former site of the Elgin Place Congregational Church at the corner of Pitt Street and Bath Street, housed not one but two clubs and was part of the bustling Bath Street club and pub scene until 2004.

The Shack was a much-loved student venue, while Trash, situated in the basement of the building, played host to some of the city’s best DJ’s. Both clubs are fondly remembered by Glaswegians of a certain age and many will remember the ominous wait outside the entrance to see if they would get in with ubiquitous Snapfax clasped in their hands like a bible.

Sadly the A-listed building burned down the night after Shack’s fourth anniversary, when a fire broke out in Trash and ravaged the building. Although the shell still stood on the site for several months, it was declared unsafe and eventually bulldozed. Proposals could see students returning to the site with new student accommodation set to be built.

Picture: Wikimedia

Elgin Place Congregational Church. Picture: Wikimedia

Burn’s Howf

(West Regent Street, City centre)

The Burns Howf was probably, at one time, one of the best known live Rock venues in Glasgow. Situated on West Regent Street (or any number of places depending on who you spoke to) the Burns Howf was the place to go for some of the best live music and craic in the city. Before Rufus T. Firefly and the Solid, the Burns Howf was the place to go to sate your rock needs; it is even said that Alex Harvey met his Sensational Band mates there.

Legend of the on-trade, John Waterson opened the Burn’s Howf in 1967 on the back of the success of his Burn’s Cottage bar in Paisley, which had previously become something of a talking point for featuring on a televised music competition.

John was ahead of his time and his friendly, old school attitude saw regulars pass through its doors by the bucket load, some even queuing to enter on a Saturday morning. Displaying a foresight that was ahead of its time, John focused on the live music niche and even installed close circuit television so that pub goers could watch the live bands playing downstairs on the screens upstairs.

Sadly, the Burns Howf closed its doors for the last time in 1984, but its legend lives on; most Glasgwegians of a certain age will have a story to tell about this hallowed venue.

The Burn's Howf. Picture: Kafuffle\wikimedia

The Burn’s Howf. Picture: Kafuffle\wikimedia

Bonkers

(Hope Street, City Centre)

Perhaps one of the more infamous bars on this list, Bonkers was never out of the papers, be it for its ‘happy hours’, drinks offers or trouble around the club. The venue however retains a certain place in most people’s memories as being one of those venues that was always crazy no matter what time of the day you went. In fact, the office ‘happy hours’ were often the most popular.

The relaxed door policy was almost as legendary as the club. The bouncers would often knock people back only to let the same people in ten or fifteen minutes later (all be it with jacket switches and slightly different hair styles) and provided you passed through the metal detectors, you were given carte blanche to enjoy the club.

Inside was a true menagerie with many club goers being subjected to impromptu pole dances from fairly stocious regulars tanked up on ‘wreck the hoose juice’, all to the background beat of hardcore dance music. It wasn’t all bad though – the fish tanks with live fish were always a talking point.

The club itself was forced to close by the authorities after numerous flare-ups of violence, and though many attempts were made to revive it under different guises (Buffalo Joes anyone?) the site now lies empty.

Cleopatra’s

(Great Western Road, West End)

Few clubs were as famous in Glasgow – and other parts of Scotland – as Cleopatra’s (or Clatty Pats as it was affectionately known). Catering for the West End of the city, which was bereft of decent clubs during the 80s and 90s, Clatty Pats (sorry we can’t help it) would be a regular catch all for anyone who happened to be out drinking and were looking for a place to go after kicking out time, so it was not uncommon to see students rubbing shoulders with office workers and the occasional football player.

Everyone has as at least one Cleopatra’s story – some will have many. Most people will simply claim to have been too drunk to remember any of the nights they inevitably enjoyed in it. Sometimes all it takes is the right mixture of gaudy interior, cheap drink and pop music to create a legend – or at the very least a garish sort of infamy.

Clatty Pats – sorry we mean Cleopatra’s – has now been given an upgrade and modernisation in its current iteration as student club Viper.

Clouds/Satellite City

(Renfield Street, City centre)

The Apollo Theatre was perhaps one of the most famous music venues in Scotland around the 70’s and 80’s with many famous bands playing to packed crowds. Perched on top of this amazing venue was Clouds, a disco and club that became the hangout of many of the bands who visited the city. The club itself played host to a number of gigs by well-known artists,  including Stone the Crows, Simple Minds (who were said to have played their first ever gig there) and Elvis Costello. Jim McGinlay of Silk was once even quoted as saying: “Word gets around up there when a group gets on well at Clouds.”

Tiger Tim was the resident DJ there for many years, sporting his famous frog suit (don’t ask), and though the club later became Satellite City, hosting dance classes and roller discos, it maintained its reputation as a great club through the 80’s until its eventual close. The site itself became the Odeon cinema before that too shut; the premises are now vacant.

The Apollo theatre. Picture: Apollo

The Apollo theatre. Picture: Apollo

 

 

About The Author

Sean Murphy

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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