Old Glasgow Pubs.co.uk

[ skip to navigation ]
Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


The Real Pub Spies.

The People Every Drinker Wants To See.

A First-hand view is important...

Glasgow's official "Pub Spies" have been out in force this week. But the select task-force visiting the city's watering-holes do not use cloak-and-dagger tactics to check the standards.

The "Spies" are all councillors, and members of the licensing board who have played a major and far-sighted part in the revolution of the city's drinking habits.

The councillors have been carrying out their personal missions in preparation for this week's marathon meeting in Govan Town Hall.

Philip O'Rourke 1979

Councillor Philip O'Rourke. 1979.


At the sitting more than 1000 city pubs and clubs will be applying for licence changes and renewals. Almost half are for extensions in the afternoon. And for the first time since the Clayson report, all-day licences will be granted for a full year.

Andrew McMahon 1979

Councillor Andrew McMahon. 1979.

Board chairman Phil O'Rourke explained the thinking behind the councillors' public house patrol. "It's very important that we get first-hand view of the premises and the publicans who are applying for licences.

Helen McGregor 1979

Councillor Helen McGregor. 1979.

"We give notice of our visits but do not give a publican time to make substantial changes to the pub. That would be pointless, we want the customers are seeing it," he said.


But the way has not always been easy for the George Square, "pub spies." The teams, including the two female members of the board, have been offered drinks, meals, and even threatened by customers.

Edward Henrdy 1979 May Goldie 1979 Bob Innes 1979

Councillor Edward Hendry, Councillor May Goldie, and Councillor Mr Bob Innes 1979.

One member said: "We are sometimes offered all kinds of things during our visits, but they are, without exception, quietly refused.

"Sometimes regulars, who have had one over the eight, decide that they should make their views known to the board.

"Fortunately, it has never come to anything serious." Now the councillors are preparing a scheme of identity cards, so that there is no doubt of the purpose of their mission.

Councillor O'Rourke said "We want the people of Glasgow to have the best places possible for their refreshment. Our visits help us to see for ourselves what the premises are like and how they are being run, and if they are not, up to scratch then this will be brought up at the board."

Frank Hannigan 1979

Councillor Frank Hannigan. 1979.


Go to top of page