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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Culture and Leisure

Clubs and Taverns

By Joe Fisher

Glasgow from the west During the last half of the 18th century Glasgow became rich and gregarious and social clubs began to flourish. One of the earliest was the famous Anderston Club (c. 1750) meeting every Saturday at 2 p.m. in John Sharpe's tavern. Founded by Robert Simson, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow, it brought together the city's leading merchants and the University professors. The latter included the celebrated Adam Smith (1723-1790), Professor of Moral Philosophy and author of The Wealth of Nations (1759), many of his book's economic insights arising from his discussions with his merchant fellow-members.

Bunhouse Another Anderston club of quite a different kind was the Duck Club (1810-1830). Its sole purpose was to consume as many Anderston ducks as it could – by the end of the season there was not a duck to be found on the Kelvin!

Old Tron Steeple The most unusual club was the Hell Fire Club. One night these 18th century "yobs" broke into the Session House of the Tron Kirk, near Glasgow Cross, and heaped so much inflammable material on to its fire place that the entire church was consumed (except for the still standing church steeple).

Tait's Directory p72 Any excuse was good enough. For instance the Face Club took its name from the smoking sheep's heads which faced each member, while the titles of the What You Please Club (1800-1828) and the Accidental Club are self-explanatory.

Many of the clubs were excuses for drinking. Mail from Edinburgh arrived in the city at 5.00am and those who collected it invented the Morning Club whose members were each expected to drain three bottles. This proved so enjoyable that its name was changed, for good reasons, to the Morning and Evening Club.

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