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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


The Horseshoe Bar.

164 Crown Street, Gorbals, Glasgow.



The Horse Shoe Bar stood at the corner of Crown Street and Clelland Street, Gorbals.

There has been a pub on this site since 1836. In the 1970s, when the old tenement was built around the late 1860 and 70s the pub was positioned on the ground floor. William Laurie was the name of the pub and the landlord at this time. Mr Laurie owned several pubs around the city of Glasgow including Bridgegate, Great Clyde Street, South Portland Street, North Street and Govan Street to name a few. The pub was soon called the Horse Shoe Bar which was one of the busiest pubs in the Gorbals.

In the 1930s Martin Malarkey took over the pub, he formerly owned a pub at the beginning of Crown Street from the 1920s.

Interior of the Horse Shoe Bar 1930s

In this wonderful photograph sent by J Hawkesworth, is Mr Martin Malarkey on the far right and the first gentleman (Barman) standing behind the bar is James MacArthur.

James MacArthur was born in 1913 in Alexander Street Clydebank and moved to Skye with his stepmother and sister Rosina when he was about 5 years of age. When he began working at 14 years of age he moved back to Glasgow and worked in bars around the city. Young James met a young lass when he was 22 years old, the young girl used to come into the family department of the Horse Shoe Bar and buy a wee half for her sick father William Haining, a Gorbals born man, who suffered a serious leg injury during the First World War.

Martin Malarkey the owner of the pub used to joke with the young lass that "their boy fancied her and would like to take her out," Sarah having grown up in a family of 10 with lots of brothers answered something to the effect if he wanted to take her out he would have to ask her himself "if he had a tongue in his head." Thus developed into a love affair that would grow for many happy years. Young Sarah Haining worked as a dairy saleswoman prior to her marriage.

The young couple were married at the John Knox Church. Young James lived at 492 Rutherglen Road not to far from the pub, while Sarah lived at 244 Cumberland Street. After their marriage they stayed in Thistle Street. Sarah felt very safe and secure while walking with James in the notorious Gorbals, all the gangster type tipped their hats to James and offered him respect.

One of the gangsters who had a big reputation lived locally, James used to deliver his drink to him as he was to scared to come out as there were so many who wanted to do away with him. James had a special knock on the door and then identified himself and only then would he be allowed into the gangsters home.

It was very unusual at that time for a rangers supporter to work in a bar bar full of Catholics and vice versa. James was an exception, he was a proud Scotsman and a supporter of R.FC; he even ventured to London to watch the Scots play soccer. No of the Catholic locals in the Horse Shoe Bar would have known his religion as a Protestant as they would not have stood for such a person to be drinking or serving them. This must have been at the back of his mind for many years.

If was not unusual for two friends with different religions going to Celtic Park to watch an old firm game, one Catholic and one Protestant would meet up after the game and be best of pals until it came to going down the pub. If for instance they were going to the Horse Shoe Bar in the Gorbals, the Celtic Supporter would go in one door and the Rangers supporter would go into another door. The Celtic supporter would be served right away and his pal would only be served when everyone else was served, this could mean he would have to wait ten or fifteen minutes. This was just accepted in those days.

James was in the British Army during the war. James and Sarah emigrated to Australia after the Second World War in 1949. The young couple came to Australia on the Cameronia and departed down the Clyde. They lived very happily in Melbourne for the rest of their lives.

James never forgot his homeland and loved telling people that he was in Australia to educate the masses! He used to tell stories and jokes to all around him especially the ones from his time in the pub in the Gorbals. However no matter how much he loved Scotland he grew to love Australia too and really appreciated the chance of a better life it offered his family. He was extremely proud that all three of his children had a tertary education as and education was one thing he was denied. His stepmother could not really afford to keep him let alone allow him an education. James is believed to have won a scholarship to help with further schooling but he need to earn a living to keep himself.

James MacArthur died in 1981 from a long and painful death from cancer. He told his family that he wrote a poem and would like it to be recited at his funeral. His son gave the words to an Australian folk singer who also came from Scotland, Eric Bogle. Eric put the words to music which is called Jimmy's Song / Across the hills of Home. A great memento for his family. James loved writing poems and ditties for his family and acquaintances. To read the lyrics of Jimmy's Song / Across the hills of home click here. http://ericbogle.net/lyrics/lyricspdf/acrossthehillsofhome.pdf

To read the full history of this popular Gorbals hostelry click here.


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