THE BROTHERS behind a family-run butcher shop business in Glasgow have spoken of “devastation” after their city centre store was burnt to the ground earlier this week. 

Gordon Blair, who is the co-owner of The Country Shop, has revealed that he and his two brothers are “heartbroken” over the loss of their High Street unit.

A blaze engulfed the historic building near to the Old College Bar during the early hours of Tuesday morning. More than 40 firefighters were called to the scene to tackle the flames.

Glasgow Times:

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Reflecting on images of the aftermath, Gordon said: “I haven’t been down to see the damage, but I have seen pictures that show it is completely gutted. It is gone.

“We are absolutely devastated, it was always a worry that something would happen.

"Even throughout the pandemic, business had been very good – in fact, it hadn’t been better.”

The Merchant City shop was bought by the family more than 40 years ago with Peter, the youngest brother, taking over the reigns from his father as a young man.

Glasgow Times:

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Gordon - who runs the business’ Clarkston Road store - added: “Peter is coming and going with the loss of the shop. He’s heartbroken, absolutely gutted. 

“He left school when he was 16 to work as a trainee butcher and he had been there ever since. It will be hard for him to come to terms with.

“It will be demolished in the coming days, too. It will be difficult to see it flattened after all these years. There are a lot of happy memories at that shop.”

Glasgow Times:

Locals have described the blow as a “tragedy” for people in the area and have raised concerns over what will replace the now available space. 

Duncan MacLaren, who is the Chairman of the Merchant City Community Council, said:

“This is a tragedy for the people of our area.

“Peter’s butcher shop was the last butcher’s in the whole of the city centre - not just the Merchant City.

“It was a constant source of good, local produce and his home-made steak and Scotch pies were to die for. Peter was also a character who would engage all his customers in banter and make you feel welcome.”

Duncan added: “We hope that what replaces this row of shops and is erected on the rest of the site is not glass and concrete monstrosities that detract from the conservation status of the area but homes for residents that fit in well with the red sandstone buildings that make up much of the High Street. 

“As the local Community Council, we will be keeping our eye on any planning application for the site.”

The Glasgow Times revealed in February how plans had been submitted to demolish the building and replace it with an 11-story residential development.  

Glasgow Times:

Structured House (Merchant Residential) Ltd had plans to build 239 flats with roof-top terraces on the site. 

Gordon admitted that the family had previously received offers from people who wished to buy the shop unit. 

The 60-year-old said: “There had been offers to buy the building but we were in no hurry to sell up. 

“It is a shame for the customers who have been so loyal over the years. The shop was very handy for them, there isn’t another shop like us in the area. 

“I don’t know what will happen next. We will see how things go. For now, my brother will come and help myself and our other brother with the two remaining shops.

“I would just like to say that on behalf of the Blair brothers, we would like to thank our customers for showing us loyalty over the years.”

Glasgow Times:

A police investigation has since been launched in a bid to understand the full circumstances surrounding the blaze. 

Detectives are appealing to members of the public who may have witnessed any suspicious activity to come forward.

Detective Constable Neil Bonsor, of Stewart Street CID, said: “Our inquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“The blaze has caused significant damage to the building’s structure.

“We would urge anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident, and who saw any suspicious behaviour, to contact us.”

Glasgow Times:

A Scottish Fire and Rescue spokesman added: “We were alerted at 1.27am on Tuesday, May 4, to a report of a derelict building on fire at High St, Glasgow.

“Operations Control immediately mobilised four fire appliances to the scene. Firefighters were met with a well-developed fire and requested further resources to bring the fire under control.

“At its height, more than 40 firefighters, seven fire engines and two height appliances were in attendance. There are no reported casualties and crews continue to work to extinguish the fire.”

Anybody who has information about the fire is urged to contact Police
Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 0119 of May 4.

Alternatively, a report can be made to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555 111.