GLASGOW’S famous Barras market is celebrating its 100th birthday.

As part of today’s celebrations (a special event featuring heritage talks, film, performance and photography runs from 12pm until 4pm) a permanent exhibition will be unveiled by Alison Thewliss MP.

Glasgow Times: The Barras. Pic: Newsquest

It is made up of moving, funny reminiscences from former traders and visitors to the Barras and includes photographs from the Glasgow Times archive.

Peter Degnan remembers visiting with his grandfather.

“I eventually found out the reason we got spoiled when we came up to The Barras, it was because my grandmother was actually Helen McIver, and she was part of the family,” he says.

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“It was always a great experience coming up. In later years, when I was in my late teens, I was becoming more serious with my photography and I used to think that The Barras was like Disneyland for photographers. There was so much going on.”

Barras100 is a year-long arts and heritage programme marking the centenary of the world-famous market.

Funded by Creative Scotland, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, Glasgow City Council and Scotland Loves Local, organisers have been working with local people on creative activities to ensure the market’s important heritage is preserved for future generations.

Glasgow Times: Shopping at the Barras. Pic: Newsquest

Today, the Pipe Factory and Barras market is hosting a showcase of activities, including a short documentary film made by young people, recording fond memories of the market.

The former clay smoking pipe factory was purchased by the Friends of The Pipe Factory CIC, with the support of Nesta’s Arts and Culture Impact Fund in March 2021, to create a cultural hub rooted within Calton and the Barras.

Glasgow Times: The Barras. Pic: Newsquest

The Barras started life on Moncur Street, founded by Maggie and James McIver. Before long they were attracting 300 barrows each week, many run by women.

The early street market was of a haphazard set-up. Some traders did not even have stalls, instead working from the back of lorries, spreading their wares on the pavement or hanging them from railings.

As the market grew, the demand for stalls increased and more ground was acquired, with an additional market hall being constructed at Kent Street. The Barras flourished over the years and became a big attraction in the city.

Glasgow Times: Entrance to the famous Barras market

Many of the traders were well known in the city - people like Dick Lee, known as ‘Cockney Jock’; Prince Abadou selling snake oil, the cure of all ills; Kurt Cook selling nine and 18 carat gold jewellery, watches with a one year guarantee; local Calton man Freddie Benedetti offering household wares; and Gerry Ward the ‘go-to-guy’ for curtains and towels.

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In the 1980s, shop Sunday opening had a big impact on footfall at the Barras, but the market traders went about their business with the usual enthusiasm.

Ann Feeney recalls: “I’m the youngest of four sisters and every one of us has worked a stall at The Barras.

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“We were here every Saturday and Sunday. We were here on Christmas Eve, almost 24 hours…

“I was nine or 10 - I remember at times we used to sleep under the stalls. We’d have a blanket and a pillow and we’d take turns having a break. It was very, very vibrant; it was a brilliant place to be.”

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Gavin Mitchell agrees.

“It’s always been the heart and soul of Glasgow for me,” he says.

“I did a thing for BBC Scotland where you were to choose your favourite place, your happy place. You can choose anywhere, they said. The Barras, I said. It’s where I’ve had some of the best days of my life. And I love it.”

Send us your favourite memories of The Barras - get in touch by emailing or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.