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Old Glasgow Pubs by john gorevan


James Miller. Gilmour's and the Norfolk Arms.

Wine & Spirit Merchant, Glasgow.


Mr James Miller

Mr James Miller. 1888.

James Miller was born at Eastfield in the Parish of Shotts in 1843. His father was a farmer on the Duke of Hamilton's estate. James was the oldest of a family of ten, and was brought up under the strictest discipline. He went through the usual routine of farm work, taking his full share of the work, and like his father followed the plough. Young James was getting tired of his strict up-bringing, he was intending to go to a fair one day in a neighbouring town in opposition to his father's will, "he said if you go to the fair, you will not be welcome in this home." Daring James went to the fair that day, and rather than face the results of his disobedience he bade farewell to the Eastfield Farm.

On arriving Glasgow at the age of nineteen he started work in the North British Railway. He was always keen to educate himself, gaining good results in his exams when he was a boy, in Glasgow too, he attended for years classes in the Mechanics Institute. The railway work, however, did not suit him, and after a short period work for Charles Watson, Argyle Street, Glasgow, where he remained for some time. This may be said to have been the beginning of his career. On quitting with the firm of Charles Watson he was entertained to supper and presented with a valuable presentation in the Black Bull Hotel, Maryhill, in recognition of his ability as well as his good fellowship.

Mr James Miller in Kilt attire

Mr Miller in full Highland dress. 1893.

James then went into the employment of Messrs. Bennett & Co. which he was in receipt of a substantial salary and saved all his money. After a few years he went into partnership with James Gordon and jointly they became the owners of a public house at 68 Norfolk Street, Mr Miller prospered in the business and at this stage both men dissolved partnership, although they remained best friends. His relatives were much so aggrieved that he would not speak to him for years.

This first purchase of licensed premises fired him with a desire to press on, as a result of his perseverance he was fully rewarded and soon had five public houses to run. Mr Miller's pubs were good establishments, with good quality liquor, always with the best bartenders, well-dressed in white shirts black tie and trousers with well pressed white aprons. Miller's public houses each had a distinctive name, sometimes political, sometimes poetical, as in the case of the "Gladstone" in Norfolk Street, the "O'Connell" in Nicholson Street, "Burns" in Eglinton Street, "Burns" in Houston Street. His residence had a royal title at 28 Queen's Square, Regent Park. Many will remember the pub on Norfolk Street as the Norfolk Arms.

Image of Gilmour's Bar 1960s

Gilmour's Bar 1960s. Thanks to Norrie Mcnemee for the image.

Over the years he had pubs in Nithsdale Road, Main Street, Pollokshaws, Surrey Lane, Eglinton Street and a wholesale business at Cavendish Street. Each of his pubs had a popular and special blend of old Scotch Whisky called "Glendhu."

Image of Gilmour's Bar 1960s

Closeup of Gilmour's Bar. Thanks to Norrie McNemee for the image.

James Miller's hobby was horses, he was in possession of several stud horses and was proud of his pair of Arabian horses. James was also the owner of the famous roadster "Cock Robin," which carried everything before it at the various horse shows throughout Scotland, including the twenty-guinea cup at Helensburgh. He was also an enthusiastic Highlander, and was admitted to be the finest amateur Highland dancer in Glasgow. He also liked to travel and frequently visited France and Germany.

James took a prominent part in Trade matters and was a member of the various Trade organisations. In a few he acted as a Parliamentary delegate and was for twelve years one of the directors of the Wine and Spirit Trade Defence Association and did yeoman work. Like his brother, the parish minister of Jamestown, in Dumbartonshire, Mr Miller belonged to the Auld Kirk, and was a member of Queen's Park Church.

After Mr Miller's death his wife Mary took over some of the pubs others were sold off and after the First World War Mary only had the Norfolk Street premises and Houston Street.

Image of Gilmour's Bar 1960s.

Another image of Gilmour's Bar. Thank to Norrie McNemee for the image.

Image of the Norfolk Arms 1959

The Norfolk Arms, 66-68 Norfolk Street, Gorbals. c1959.

Image of the Norfolk Arms from Nicholson Street

The Norfolk Arms from Nicholson Street.

In 1971 a life size mural painting of World Chanmion Benny Lynch was discovered beneath 6 layers of wallpaper when owner Dick Gilmour was refurbishing the bar.

group image of James Culligan, Miss P McGuire, Mrs Bertha Sendall and J K Webster 1963.

Left to right Mr J Culligan; Miss P McGuire; Mrs Bertha Sendall (Royal Restaurant); and J K Webster (Webster's Bar). 1963. This image was taken at the annual Gorbals Ward outing.

Mr James Culligan owned the Norfolk Arms in the 1960s.


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