It seems like every week there is a slick new cocktail bar or homely traditional pub opening in and around Glasgow.

Our city definitely has an abundance of choices for a night out, after-work drink or catch-up pint with old friends.

But among all the new arrivals, the answer to the question ‘Which is Glasgow’s oldest pub?’ is one that is hotly contested. Numerous watering holes in our city have claimed to date the farthest back in time, some going back hundreds of years.

Glasgow Times:

One of Glasgow’s oldest recently celebrated a milestone 230th birthday in 2022. The Scotia’s origins take us all the way back to 1792 when it was called the Scotia Inn and served as a watering hole for the city’s maritime trade.

Sailors, shipyard workers and the like would be dropping in for a refreshment from the nearby Clyde docks.

The pub grew in popularity with those in the arts and cultural circles, as the Metropole opened next door in 1906.

Glasgow Times:

In fact, one of the Scotia’s regulars would have been a fresh-faced Arthur Stanley Jefferson, the son of the Metropole’s owner who started out selling tickets at the box office and then went into comedy under the name Stan Laurel.

Glasgow Times:

Famous regulars of the Scotia in later years include Gerry Rafferty and Sir Billy Connolly of The Humblebums, but there have also been some rather unwanted guests turning up at the pub – ghosts.

The Scotia is rumoured to be haunted by a ‘grey lady’, a ‘green lady’ and the ghost of a manager who hanged himself in the pub’s cellar.

Meanwhile, one of the Scotia’s contenders claims to be even older, by almost another 200 years. The Old College Bar on High Street, now no longer trading, was famed for its claim to have opened in 1515.

Glasgow Times:

Also dubbed ‘Glasgow’s oldest public house’ and used as an ‘ancient staging post’, the High Street building’s name refers to the city’s oldest university, Glasgow University, which was founded in 1451.

While it is true that parts of the building date back centuries, it is now generally considered that the actual pub with a license to serve alcohol dates closer to the 1800s.

Glasgow Times:

In fact, it is thought that the ‘oldest pub’ patter was coined up at the time to encourage footfall and keep up with the other up-and-coming Victorian-era Glasgow bars.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow City Archives archivist Nery Tunnicliffe previously told the Glasgow Times: “The question of which pub is Glasgow’s oldest is very hotly debated.

“It’s complicated because over time some pubs have changed venue or have even become something else like a shop or restaurant before becoming a pub again.

“As the names of pubs are rarely given in records it is also hard to verify any claims.”