LIEUTENANT-General Sir Colin Barber, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Scottish Command, took in the palatial surroundings of the newly-opened NAAFI club in Glasgow and declared to his fellow guests that his London club “was a sordid affair compared with this”.

Echoing him was the city’s Lord Provost, Thomas A. Kerr, who said that the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes club, built at a cost of £160,000, was “an ornament to the city architecturally and in every other way”.

The first permanent NAAFI club to be built in Scotland, it occupied the first three floors of a seven-storey building at the junction of Buchanan Street and Parliamentary Road. The photograph shows workmen putting the finishing touches to the roof.

Well might the general and the Lord Provost have been impressed that day of the opening, in late November 1953.

The club’s tavern, for example, which was on the first floor, had been designed to resemble an old Scottish baronial hall, with dressed-stone walls, a 25ft-long stone bar, and a large open fireplace.

The chairs and benches were of natural oak with seats and backs of laced leather,with hammered pewter tops on the oak tables.

The restaurant, on the same floor, was panelled in Jacobean-type dark wood; and the lounge, on the next floor, was in the style of the first-class lounge of an ocean liner.

The club’s other facilities included a ballroom, a games room complete with two full-sized billiards tables, and a music room.

Construction work had begun two years earlier, and had entailed the demolition of a hotel that had until then stood on the site.

The club had a “potential” membership of 15,000 Service men and women stationed within 20 miles.

General Barber said that NAAFI clubs could be run only at a loss in peace-time, and it was up to service personnel to use them as often as possible.

Read more: Herald Diary