As soon as I stepped through the door of the Laurieston Bar in Glasgow in 2007 I knew it was something special. I’d left the September sunshine and the busy road behind and was now firmly back in the 1960s. There’s something indefinable about the Laurieston, from the way the light filters in through the windows, to the immediate feeling of established hospitality and the sense that everything is just as it should be.
I’d been past the Laurieston many times and was intrigued by the mosaic-like distinctive black and white tiling and its unusual truncated form at the end of a row of tall tenements. I was working on a project looking at public houses to see if they could become listed buildings and The Laurieston was one I was investigating. There are two bars, the public bar to the left and the lounge bar to the right, both served by a previous island bar which was timber clad as part of the 1960s remodelling of this earlier public house. The public bar sings with authenticity. There is the 1960s red font proclaiming ‘BAR’ on the door, the small fixed red formica tables and the red vinyl-covered armchairs. The pie warmer on the bar counter completes the vintage atmosphere. Following my visit it became a listed building in recognition of its 1960s character. The past ninety years have given us much to celebrate and the Laurieston Bar is an unexpected gem. And if it looks familiar to you that’s because you’ve probably seen it take a starring role in many films and television programmes.
It matters to me because it’s not necessarily what people expect a listed to be. Celebrated buildings shouldn’t just be about grandiose designs and expensive materials.
And it’s also a part of its community, it’s used every day. Buildings must be about people because without people they are meaningless and the Laurieston is most definitely about people. Once entered, never forgotten.
“Things have gotten all modernised. There’s a different feeling now. You go into pubs now and there’s television, radio, bands playing and groups singing… instead of just having a pub.”John Clancy, The Scotsman