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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


Cocky Borrs.

652 Gallowgate, Glasgow.

Archibald Barr's premises Gallowgate

Archibald Barr's premises at the corner of Gallowgate and Soho Street.

Mr. Morris Barr 1974

Mr. Archibald Morris Barr, with months of entering the trade he was involved in the veto polls of 1920.

President bows out after hectic finish to fifty-three years in the trade.

Now Morris can catch his breath!.

Archibald Morris Barr retires as president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association on Wednesday May 1974, after 53 years in the trade. And remarkable as it may seen for a man in his 70th year, he has found the past few months as demanding, time and energy wise, as any over his long career.

He has lived out of a suitcase for days on end, travelling hundreds of miles throughout Scotland, and even south of the border, waving the S.L.T.A. flag at many varied and important occasions. One day he was in Aberdeen addressing the annual meeting of the Three Counties Association, the next he was in Dunbar representing the association at the opening of a brewery extension, and the day after he was a guest of honour at a Falkirk trade function.

Even up to last week there was no let-up in his hectic schedule of late. He was among the guests at a victuallers' dinner in London and a couple of days later he was up at the crack of dawn in his Troon home before making a flying one-day visit to the Carlsberg brewery in Northampton.

Mr. Barr, of course, would be the first to admit that he is no longer active in the trade, and has not been for many years as far as the day to day running of a licensed premise is concerned, but even so his dedication to his duties as president over the past two years can leave his colleagues with nothing but admiration.

Unique opportunity

"I can't deny I am looking foreword to some quieter times," he said looking fondly across at his golf clubs, "but I've enjoyed every minute of it. The past two years have given me the chance to meet so many people and also allowed me a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of many leading Continental drinks firms."

Even though his family were steeped in the great public house tradition, his grandfather had five shops and his father three, all in the East End of Glasgow. Mr. Barr had no thoughts of working behind the counter when he left school. He became a C.A. apprentice but within months his father had persuaded him that a spell of learning how to manage a shop would be of help to him in the future.

In fact, he had hardly learned how to pull a pint before he was involved in the veto polls of 1920. "Little did I imagine that when I canvassed our neighborhoods that 51 years later we would still be faced with this threat to livelihoods," he said.

Morris Barr might never have had entered the trade full-time had it not been for his father's death in 1927, only three days before he was due to sit his C.A. finals. He never did sit them, as the trustees of his father's estate then persuaded him that there was more money to be made in the licensed trade than accountancy.

Accordingly he put his books aside and took over two shops (Belgrove Street and Gallowgate), his father having sold the other one several years previously. After a year the Gallowgate shop was sold and he concentrated on the Bellgrove Street premises. In 1936 he bought the pub from the trustees, and for the next 30 years put in many a day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. as he developed the place into one of the busiest shops in the district.

"Of course, I was next to the cattle market so there was never really a quiet moment," he remembers. Needless to say, he once had a bull in the shop, "tethered to his owner, not a runaway," he hastened to add. He had rats, burglars and even people who had been locked in, but one unwanted visitor to the premises stands out above all others.

"One night there was a break-in. The raider appeared at a lavatory window with his haul of spirits. Seeing a chap walking by he decided to ask for his help and then proceeded to hand out the bottles one by one to the man in the street. Out came the raider to collect his bottles..... straight into the arms of the law, his assistant was a plain clothed policeman!"

Mr. Barr sold the Belgrove shop in 1964, and then, with three fellow directors, formed a company which took over The Snug Bar at Airdrie Cross. Modernised and extended. The Snug became one of Airdrie's most successful shops. By then Mr. Barr was no longer actively involved in the day-to-day work. The Snug was finally sold, just three months ago.

In the past 20 years Mr. Barr has taken an increasingly active interest in trade association affairs. Before he sold out in Belgrove Street he became president of the Glasgow and District Licensed Trade Defence Association, serving for two years (64-66) after spells as treasurer and vice-president.

His interest in the "Scottish" goes back to the fifties. He was appointed to the Managing Committee in 1953 and then was elected to the executive in 1964. Thereafter he climbed the ladder as junior and senior vice-president before taking office as president at Ayr in 1972.

He has served on the Wages Board and Brewers' Liaison Committee for some years. A former director of the Scottish Wine and Spirit Merchants' Benevolent Institution, he is also a director of the Scottish Veto Protection Company. And even with these commitments he has still found time to be a member of the Incorporation of Rights, Trades House, the Scottish Furniture Trade Benevolent Institution, Dennistoun Rotary Club and the Eastern Merchants' Association.

With the Clayson Report and regionalistion on the way, the past year has been a challenging one, to say the least, for the retiring president. "The Clayson Report is one of the most satisfying report on the licensed trade in my time," he said. "Apart from a very few items, notably the recommendation that there should be cafe type licences, which can only encourage every Tom, Dick and Harry to apply for a certificate, I am in complete agreement with Clayson. The only tragedy is that personally I don't think anything will ever be done about the recommendations. After all, we are still waiting for the second part of the Guest Committee's recommendations to be implemented 11 years after publication."

On regionalisation Mr. Barr is quite emphatic. "It is coming, no matter whether we like it or not. The trade will have to regionalise,m we have no option. I just hope we can get the wholehearted co-operation of all concerned."

Generally speaking, Mr. Barr is concerned about apathy among the licensees to trade affairs. "Someone once told me when only 30 turned up at an annual Glasgow meeting that the absentees must be satisfied with the way things are going." he said. "What a short-sighted attitude! The trade is being constantly threatened by all sorts of legislations and it;s only because of people like the members of the Managing Committee who travel from all parts of Scotland every month that we can formulate our stands on vital issues."

Before he demits office and prepare for many more games of golf at Old Troon and his annual visit to see his daughter in California Mr. Barr would like to thank all S.L.T.A. office-bearers and past chairmen for their help and encouragement over the years and also all companies and associations who have invited him to functions.

Many happy years of retirement. John Gorevan.

To read more on the pubs on the Gallowgate read up & Doon the Gallowgate by John Gorevan. A copy can be bought for a few pounds at the Hielan Jessie on the Gallowgate or contact me at john@oldglasgowpubs.co.uk


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