Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Old Bridge Inn, Partick

Before I return to kelping, here's a nice mid-winter's New Year image - the Old Bridge Inn at Partick:-

The picture is from the volumes of the Regality Club which contains the following description of the inn written in 1873: it reminds us that Partick was once just a village a few miles outside Glasgow:-

"... fifty years ago [the Old Bridge Inn was] the most popular house in the village. Certainly no house in Partick was better known to Glasgow merchants who were in the habit of coming to the country on a Saturday on Sunday afternoon in search of a good dinner and a quiet glass of toddy. It was then occupied by Mrs. Craig, a stout old lady, who prided herself on the quality of her liquors, as well as in the style in which she could get up a dinner or supper for a large party and her house was a model of cleanliness. Nothing could be more enticing on a winter evening than to look in through the window (not filled with bottles), and see the bright blazing fire in the kitchen, and the wall covered with shining metal measures and meat covers, reflecting the light over the whole apartment, the stone floor whitened over, the deal table scoured to a whiteness one might ake their meat off without cover."

It reads like a scene on a Christmas card! And I thought going out at the weekend for a pub lunch in the country was an invention of the 1970s - it just goes to show nothing's so new as you think and our ancestors 150 years ago did just the same as us.

You can see the inn on the OS 25 inch map of 1860 (above) at the corner of Knowe Street and Bridge Street just north of the eponymous bridge carrying the main road from Glasgow to Dumbarton over the River Kelvin. The picture at the top is taken from standing in Bridge Street looking west over the back of the building which fronts Knowe Street. If you zoom in closely on the map you can see the two external stairs visible in the picture and also the low outbuilding with the chimney at the right of the picture at a slight angle to the main block.

The picture is dated 1890 but I suspect from the dress of the two figures it depicts an earlier view. On the 1893-94 25 inch map (below), the inn is still there but the bridge has gone. The road is now carried across the Kelvin by the present day bridge (at right of the map below) built in 1878. It replaced an earlier bridge just upstream built 1800 (far right) which still stands although now closed to traffic. Knowe Street has also gone and there's a new railway bridge (centre bottom). The blanks and lack of detail to the left suggest to me there's been demolition and unfinished railway redevelopment going on at the date of the map.

I don't know when the Old Bridge Inn closed. I wonder if it was already closed or very shortly to go at the date of the above map - it looks like it's kind of hanging in limbo from the past. Is it significant it's marked as "inn" rather than "P.H." (public house)? Anyway, it no longer appears on the 1932 25 inch map where there appear to be newer buildings on the site just above the railway sidings. Note the addition of today's Benalder Street Bridge a bit to the west of the site of the original bridge.

The area has, inevitably, since been subject to post railway/industrial re-development in the last 25 years such that little of the previous layouts are still recognisable. You can compare these old maps with recent aerial imagery here (use the "Change transparency of overlay" slider). The nearest I could get to the site of the Old Bridge Inn in Google Streetview is here - it must have been right under this building:-

Looking north east - Bridge Street on the left and the Kelvin to the right

The original bridge over the Kelvin which the Old Bridge Inn stood at the north end of and was named after is the one below.

Looking upstream from the west. The Old Bridge Inn stood out of view to the left of this bridge  - Copyright Canmore

It was built about 1577 and demolished in the late 19th century to make way for railways. You've got to love the Victorians for their single-mindedness and not letting history getting in their way! Imagine if the 16th century Old Bridge of Dee were to be just casually swept aside to build the Aberdeen Western Bypass!

Finally, I suspect the "Old" in Old Bridge Inn describes the bridge rather than the inn. This is because the 16th century bridge it stood next to would have become the "Old Bridge" upon the opening of the "new" one in 1800 further upstream (which was in turn replaced by the present Partick Bridge in 1878). I hadn't intended this post to digress from inns into bridges but I couldn't help it!   

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