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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tranquil Banks

Inn Deep, 445 Great Western Road, Kelvinbridge, Glasgow
The Ferry, 25 Anderston Quay, Glasgow G3 8BX
Lock 27, 1100 Crow Road, Glasgow G13 1XX
The Ferry Inn, 1 Clyde Street, Renfrew PA4 8SL
The Glen Lusset, 67 Dumbarton Road, Old Kilpatrick, G60 5DA

The imminent opening of Inn Beer – 07/09 – in the former Big Blue pushed me into thinking about Glasgow’s provision of watering holes by the, err, water.

Inn Beer will be joining a limited selection of bars that not only are situated near river or canal but actually allow you to appreciate your lucky location. The new bar is to offer craft beer, great cocktails, good grub and fun times. Let’s hope it can make this formula work where others, such as Bruadar, have recently failed.

Its location is certainly a winner. Built into an old railway arch under Kelvinbridge with glass doors opening on to the Kelvin walkway, tables are as close to the river as is legal. Other nearby arches have been utilised for raves and other subterranean shenanigans but that was some years back when this space attracted more custom.

Maybe it was greater competition from pubs and cafes up on street level either on Great Western Road or Gibson Street that led to Big Blue’s demise, a lack of marketing presence to help draw folk down the two levels to the bar – a sandwich board on the street isn’t enough these days – or the fact that on sunny days there was never enough outside seats to keep everyone happy.

If we have a successful newcomer here perhaps other sites will become available by water to add to the small number of licensed premises at present. I know it is the council’s intention to utilise Clydeside further, drawing the city centre in that direction, so they should put their planning where their mouth is.

Just now, the only place for a casual drink Clydeside central is the City Café near the SECC, part of the Hilton Garden Inn, whose management have imaginatively deployed an elegant pontoon.

Going east, The Ferry – the actual old Yoker to Renfrew ferry boat – continues to provide various eclectic club nights, maintaining a tradition dating from the 80s and 90s with stalwarts such as Panama Jacks and the floating fun palace - complete with hundreds of pairs of white stilettos and rejects from Miami Vice - that was Tuxedo Princess.

Six miles downstream there was a straightforward boozer on the riverbank. The Wharf in Yoker sat adjacent to the jetty of the aforementioned ferry. Attracting a devoted clientele, strangers got their fair share of local wit but all in the best taste. The Wharf had limited space but this mostly added to the jocularity.

One of the regular fixtures around the island bar added to the fun with his stoic insistence that he was a member of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team. This despite the fact he lived around 80 miles from their base and was drunk 16 hours out of every 24. His fantasy was truly burst one evening when another punter arranged a call to come in from an actual member of the team. On speaker phone to a packed pub he confirmed he nor anyone other team member knew of our delusional friend.

Sometime around the Millennium the dreaded box of matches struck (allegedly) and the place succumbed to fierce flames. Whoever benefited from the conflagration it wasn’t Yoker socialisers.

Directly cross-river and now only joined by a basic passenger ferry is the aptly named Ferry Inn of Renfrew.

The building reputedly dates from the early 18th century and unsurprisingly the interior is a little rough around the margins but details such as window seats and extensive use of dark wood mean the place gains more from its age and tradition than it loses.

The inn is a good enough destination all on its own but it can also serve as either the beginning or end of a crawl through the old town of Renfrew.

As for canals there is also limited choice inside the Glasgow environs. I’ve spoken about Lock 27 before but it is the only Glasgow bar that sits by a towpath. It continues to do respectable business especially during hot summers – if those ever return in this lifetime.

Stables, near Kirkintilloch gets even busier in the heat but is well beyond the city boundary. Another, lesser-known place, that is close to Glasgow is the Glen Lusset in Old Kilpatrick.

Fairly anonymous it may be but it has many features that eclipse the efforts of plenty of places in the city centre. An extensive food counter, raised pool table, conservatory and large beer garden with different levels and nooks all look to have been recent additions.

As well as being right beside the canal, a little stream passes the west side of the garden, the Glasgow to Helensburgh railway line is also close and if that wasn’t enough the huge span of the Erskine Bridge looms above outside drinkers. Quite a spot and made more special by its rarity.

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