Change, they say, is the only constant if life but, the news that the Clancy family has put Glasgow’s iconic Laurieston Bar on the market makes me want to stop all the clocks; makes me want to roll back the years, and set me off musing on my own days and nights in the famed Bridge Street bar.

I first knew it back in the mid-1980s when a friend bought a flat just along the road, at the top of the rather fancy Dan if now down-at-heel tenement block that is home to the Yemeni Palmtree Kitchen restaurant. A gang of us would stagger back to the flat after a night’s clubbing where we’d wake up in various states of disarray. Nothing for it but to go for a hair of the dog.

We tried the nearest pub – the now-closed Sou’western Tavern – err, a wee bit rough, let’s move on. Next stop, The Glaswegian – a bit too ‘footbally.’ Finally, we alighted on The Laurieston and, much like the third bowl of porridge in the Goldilocks story, it was just right. Calm, warm, welcoming with a retro charm which made it feel like a throwback to the Swinging Sixties.

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Truth be told, as spotty students, we stuck out like sore thumbs but, within minutes, the daytime regulars shuffled along the bar, we bought our pints, and within about five-minutes we were all talking like old friends; arguing about the Poll Tax, and cursing Maggie Thatcher.

After that, my gang became semi-regulars. In the days when the only nearby attractions were two bingo halls, carved out of former cinemas, we had no reason to go there. We returned again and again because we felt welcome, we felt at home. Oh, and the beer was a bit cheaper than most city centre pubs (we were students after all!).

After that, life took me elsewhere and I forgot that warm Laurieston welcome.

Roll-on a further 20 years, and with my best mate living in the New Gorbals, and me back living just a few miles along Paisley Road West, we reconvened in The Laurieston. And it hadn’t changed one bit.

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Enter from Bridge Street and turn right, the groovy Lounge Bar, a symphony in red Naugahyde seating and Formica-topped tables. Turn left, into the Public Bar, and it felt like home. A place to bump into and blether with familiar faces from both our working lives, teachers, journalists, writers, trade unionists. A proper hotch-potch of people, all overseen by the kindly but ever-watchful eyes of the Clancy clan – the kind of ‘mine hosts’ who give publicans a good name.

In my lager-drinking days I’d look forward to getting a pint served up in an icy glass straight from the freezer. When I later switched to Guinness, I always knew I was in for a wee wait – no rush here, every pint of stout pulled beautifully, with the kind of care and attention which is sadly missing in most pubs. Here was family, here was good service, here was pride.

On my first revisit after that 20-year hiatus I was also tickled pink to discover that the staff cut out my daily TimesPast photo-features from the Evening Times and pinned them to the wall, where they would join a rolling roster of fading and yellowing obituaries of well-kent Glaswegians from the worlds of sport, broadcasting, and politics – a Who’s Who of the recently departed.

The Herald:

Speaking of departures, what many folk don’t realise is that the pub, going back to its first incarnation, as Alexander’s, was for decades a great railwaymans’ pub. Sitting next door to the second Bridge Street Station, just along the road from the site of the first Bridge Street Station, and just around the corner from the old Central Station Signalling Centre, here was a pub that ran like clockwork.

Other early regulars would be the staff of the once adjacent Kinning Park Co-operative, and the hundreds, if not thousands, of machinists who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, had turned Laurieston into Glasgow’s ‘Garment District’; a hive of Clydebank-built Singer sewing machines, with the pieceworkers all putting the treadle-to-the-metal. Thirsty work!

The pub’s closest neighbours, the staff of Universal Covers – just up the stairs – would also pop down for a pint in between machining waterproof canvas covers for everything from luggage and pianos, to knocking out tents. Walk north up Bridge Street and you can still see the ghostly line of the long-demolished upper floor.

This wasn’t what local landowners and developers James and David Laurie had in mind when they started laying out their planned upper-class suburb in 1802. What they hoped would become a centre for Glasgow society folk was soon deserted for the then booming Blythswood area – who in their right mind would want to live south of the river?

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Their failure to attract wealthy tenants to the area, and the extravagance they lavished on their own palatial homes in Carlton Place pretty well bankrupted them. Soon, the grand apartments were subdivided and rented out as offices, or lodgings for new incomers to the city.

But, back to the bar.

Have you ever had a long and hilarious chat – some via lip-reading, some via a mate’s sign language (his dad’s profoundly deaf) with members of the Glasgow Deaf Club? I have, and I had it in The Laurieston.

Have you ever gate-crashed a pensioners’ Christmas party? I have, and I did it in The Laurieston (another pal’s band were providing the evening’s entertainment).

Have you ever stepped through a door and, Narnia-like, found yourself in a secret smoking room, complete with TV and gas heater? Yep, that’s right, in the Laurieston.

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When I first started drinking in the pub again, I could never work out why the head barman – always immaculate in white shirt and black tie – would sometimes be very friendly, while at other times he seemed a little distant. How was I to know that James and John Clancy are as alike as two peas in a pod?

When I said to James; ‘You must have a double,’ he came back with the lightning reply; ‘Thanks, make mine a whisky!’

That – the gratis soft drink mixers on the counter; the free juke box in the Lounge – loaded with classic 45s; the shelves piled high with books to borrow and read; and the vintage 1960’s pie-warmer – is the very spirit of the Laurieston, and the Clancy family.

It would be a very foolish new owner who did anything to change that magic Glasgow mix of cheek, honesty, good blethers, better beers, and warm hospitality.

Norry Wilson is a writer, historian and journalist, who runs the successful Lost Glasgow Facebook page. Join the community on Facebook here.