‘Scotland’s best pubs’ named by Historic Scotland

The Guildford Arms in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg MacveanThe Guildford Arms in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean
The Guildford Arms in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean
FROM unassuming watering holes which have quenched the drouth of generations of students to cosy hostelries offering the best-quality nips, they are some of Scotland’s most loved and historic public houses.

• Historic Scotland has produced a postcard book documenting some of Scotland’s best loved pubs

Pubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow includes images from pubs such as Glasgow’s Steps Bar and Edinburgh’s Cafe Royal

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Now, a new book is to celebrate a key part of Edinburgh and Glasgow’s heritage – the most acclaimed drinking establishments each has to offer.

Picture: Robert PerryPicture: Robert Perry
Picture: Robert Perry

Historic Scotland, ordinarily the guardian of castles and stately homes, believes the publication will bring greater awareness of the rich architectural and social history of the cities’ listed pubs.

The postcard book, entitled Pubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow, is the first in a series to be released by the Scottish Government agency. Images of the most iconic pubs in the country have been put together to show off their distinctive interiors and exteriors.

Dawn McDowell, deputy head of listing and designed landscapes at Historic Scotland, said: “Some pubs are part of a building that is listed. There are probably about 100 in Edinburgh and 100 in Glasgow.

“We picked some that represented the best designs. They represent the heyday of pub architecture. The book will hopefully appeal to a wide audience as lots of people love pubs.”

Edinburgh's Cafe Royal. Picture: Historic ScotlandEdinburgh's Cafe Royal. Picture: Historic Scotland
Edinburgh's Cafe Royal. Picture: Historic Scotland

The book includes the art deco Steps Bar in Glasgow’s Glassford Street, once a popular meeting place for politicians and the press, which still retains many of its 1930s features.

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It also has pictures of Glasgow’s Laurieston pub, situated just south of the River Clyde, in Bridge Street.

The pub is a favourite with students participating in Sub Crawls – a drinking game involving a trip round the Glasgow Subway with a stop at each station for a drink in a nearby establishment.

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It still has its 1960s interior, complete with a stand for hot pies. The walls are covered in old newspaper cuttings of Glasgow’s past, as well as hundreds of pictures of drinkers in fancy dress who have stopped off during Sub Crawls.

Picture: TSPLPicture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

Another Glaswegian favourite, The Horse Shoe bar, is also included. Historic Scotland describe it as “extraordinary,” adding: “It is category ‘A’ listed because of its outstanding interior which has been little altered over the years.”

Edinburgh pubs include the ornate Victorian bar the Guildford Arms and Bennets Bar which has been serving whisky since 1839 and is largely unchanged since 1906.

One of the best-known bars to feature is the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh, which first opened in 1826 at 1 Register Place, across the road from the present building into which it moved in 1863.

Elizabeth McCrone, head of listing and designed landscapes at Historic Scotland, explained: “All of the pubs included are in use today, showing that listed buildings are not kept in aspic, but regularly change and adapt to meet new requirements”.

Pubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow will initially go on sale at Edinburgh and Stirling castles and will be available from other retailers later in the year.


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