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Raising a glass to Scotland's historic pubs

29 June 2009

Scotland’s drinking dens are being celebrated in a new book charting the different styles and types of traditional pubs.

Historic Scotland, working alongside the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has looked at how some of the most historic public houses in Scotland have survived and developed over the years, the quality of the interior often outshining an anonymous exterior, to create Raising the Bar, An Introduction to Scotland’s Historic Pubs.

Visiting Frews in Dundee Michael Russell, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, said: “What is revealing about the survey that lead to this book is the sheer variety of historic pubs across the country, reflecting their place at the heart of their communities and the rich colour they provide. Their contribution to the Scottish streetscape and the character of towns is immense.

“The way they have remained the same or have adapted speaks volumes about how we continue to use them as meeting places, to socialise and regard them as a community resource. The amount of support that owners, landlords and regulars have given has been incredible and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to Raising the Bar.”

The Minister was joined by Frew’s landlords James and Jeanette Kid and Michael Slaughter of the CAMRA to launch the booklet.

Mr Slaughter said: “CAMRA is delighted that Historic Scotland reacted so promptly after being presented with our research on the quality of Scotland’s historic pub interiors and they agreed with us that steps needed to be taken to preserve the small number that remain.

“The Thematic Review of Heritage Public Houses so enthusiastically carried out by Historic Scotland officials, resulting in additional listings, upgradings and inclusion of a full description on the listing records - items that are at the very top end of CAMRA’s expectations in helping to save historic pub interiors.

“We feel this booklet will greatly help to highlight the importance of these pub interiors and encourage those responsible for preserving Scottish Heritage to ensure they remain intact and can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Frews is a typical Dundee tenement bar, designed by the Dundee architects Henry & Frank Thomson who contributed many important buildings to the City and an unusual example dating from their short-lived partnership.

A fine Art Deco bar was created in 1934. Overlooking a busy junction it is just a short walk from both of Dundee's football grounds.

The survey  of historic pubs was carried out between 2007 and 2008 by the Listing Team.  They visited 91 public houses as identified by CAMRA, and from these found 11 new properties worthy of listing, added new information to 33 existing listings and changed 5 existing categories.  

“Raising the Bar” is available to download for free at

Notes for editors

  • A list of all pubs featured in the booklet is below. Images from the launch will be available following the event. Please email with your request.

  • A number of images from the book are available for free at Historic Scotland’s online photo service. To access images of Cafe Royal, Edinburgh; Abbotsford, Edinburgh; Bull Inn, Paisley; Old Toll Bar, Glasgow; Horseshoe, Glasgow and Leslie’s in Edinburgh visit
    Username: HERITAGE PUBS
    Password: HSHERPUBS-0609

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming
  • with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations

Pubs included in the booklet

Aberdeen, Grill.
Ancrum, Cross Keys.
Armadale, Armadale Goth.
Coldstream, Besom Inn.
Dundee, Clep, Frews Bar, Tay Bridge Bar.
Edinburgh, Abbotsford, Barony Bar, Bennets Bar, Cafe Royal, Clarks Bar, Guildford Arms, Kenilworth, Leslie's Bar, Leith, Central Bar, H P Mathers,
Northern Bar (Now 'The Orchard'),
Oxford Bar, Queen's Hotel, Leith
Ryrie's Bar, Sheep Heid.
Falkirk, Star Inn.
Glasgow, Castle Chambers,
Horseshoe, Laurieston Bar
Neuk, Old Basin Tavern,
Old Toll Bar, Portland Arms, Railway Inn, Rogano's Bar and Restaurant, Saracen's Head, Sloans, Steps Bar.
Gourock, Cleats Bar.
Inverness, Pheonix Bar.
Kelso, Red Lion.
Kincardine, Railway Tavern.
Kirkcaldy, Feuars Arms.
Moray, Fiddichside Inn, Craigellachie.
Musselburgh, Volunteer Arms.
Newtongrange, Dean Tavern.
Paisley, Bull Inn.
Prestonpans, Prestoungrange Gothenburgh.
Wishaw, Imperial Bar.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873