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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


Harbour Bar.

Victoria Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute.


It is no oversight that many of the framed photographs of Clyde pleasure steamers around the walls of the Harbour Bar in Victoria Street, Rothesay, are unidentified by labels.

This is because the owner in 1970, 25 year old, Charles Hunter Lyle, who ran the bar in partnership with his mother, Mrs Colina Lyle, feels that the debates and discussions which arise over the photographs of the Clyde holiday fleet keep the customers returning to resume their argument.

The pictures also serve as a springboard for recollections from old timers among the locals and holidaymaker's about the great racers to collect passengers that used to take place, added Charlie.

The collection of Clyde steamers began from a series of photographs taken by a local photographer, John Adamson, and bought by Mr Freebairn, who owned the Harbour Bar in the 1930s.

Then, the month before war broke out (as Robb Wilton almost used to say on radio,) Charlie's father, Hunter Lyle, took over the seafront pub and added to the gallery of pleasure ships.

The total of photographs in the Clyde collection, stood at 56, including such greats as the Duchess of Montrose, the Countess of Breadalbane, Columba, Loch Fyne and Caledonia.

In turn, Charlie had added to the collection since taking over (his father died in 1966) and some of his contributions- for example, the Clyde car ferries- have again come from local photographers.

He was also delighted to discover behind some shelving in the Harbour Bar in the 1970s an old photograph of a herring skiff of the twenties.

Charlie added a bit more variety to the collection, too, with models made by a local pensioner from cardboard which is first moistened, moulded and then painted.

Some of the model-maker's products, the Maid of Skelmorlie, a puffer and a tug were displayed on the shelves above the photographs. Another model, made of solid brass this time, is a submarine which was occasionally rapped on the bar counter to announce closing time.

Hung above the photos of the Clyde pleasure steamers was a large painting of the German sailing ship Pamir, which Charlie bought for £15 at an auction sale.

Since it was put on show there had been many cash offers for the painting, although whether this interest was because of its artistic merit or the disaster which overtook the training barque is not clear.

For the Pamir ran into a hurricane 600 miles W.S.W. of the Azores on September 21, 1957 and of the 86 aboard, mainly young seamen, only six survived.

There was one photo in the Harbour Bar, however, which doesn't come into the nautical category; it's a football action picture which showed Charlie's father Hunter Lyle (there are almost a dozen of his relatives in the licensed trade on Bute, incidentally) who played for Morton, Partick Thistle and St Johnstone.


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