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CENTRAL BAR, 123, Main Street, Renton.

The complete building includes 121 to 127. The adjoining building, also discussed here, is 129 to 131 Main Street.

B listed. Built 1893.

ACCESS : This building is right on the Main Street so can be approached, but it has been closed since 2019. 


Imagine Renton with a typically Victorian streetscape. It didn't have the taller bulkier tenements with shops below as, say, Glasgow, but it did have stretches of red sandstone buildings facing onto Main Street, with flats with commercial premises below. Drapers, butchers, grocers and such like.... and pubs. 

One of these pubs still exists, albeit now long closed up, within the two storey building at 123 - 127 Main Street. This is a historic pub used to shoot scenes for the remake of film ‘Whisky Galore’. It abuts a plainer stone building that also has a hair dresser, a cafe and a mini-market at ground floor level and residential above, and beyond them more modern residential buildings. Yet together that retain a faily consistent streetscape facade on this side. Opposite is the footbridge across the Leven into the industrial estate and this may explain why this pub survived way longer than the others - regular patronage by those ending their shifts there.

Historic Environment Scotland notes in its listing Statement of Special Interest that : 

The Central Bar is a fine example of a late 19th century public house with a fine arcaded street elevation and a particularly good quality Victorian public bar. Externally, the arcaded ground floor with its cast-iron window guards and consoled cornice makes a distinctive addition to the streetscape of this main thoroughfare in Renton. The interior of the bar is a unusual near-intact survivor from the late 19th century and is notable in particular for its inset spirit casks and jug and bottle compartment, both of which are rare features. The completeness of the original decorative scheme adds significantly to the character of this building.

When it was closed in 2019 due to insufficient profits, it appears that much of the interior, including fittings, display items etc were simply left. The pub was apparently not doing well when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and, as many such businesses, simply couldn't survive. Yet many locals and even patrons from further afield remember this pub with affection. 

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) objected to plans to alter it into a flat, stating that the Main Street pub, which is category B listed, was a rare example of a preserved historic interior. The editor of a book on Scotland’s pubs also raised its historical importance and suggested the pub is let to an experienced operator who can turn its fortunes around. [Daily Record]. Planning permission was granted for the conversion, but to date only the upper floor has been affected.

These two pictures above show the junction between the two buildings. Individual buildings gain a lot in visual aspect when seen in groups that are different, yet compatible in scale, colour and texture.

Decorative cast iron screening over the lower window area at street level.

Opening times and what's on just prior to the last closing.

The Capstan Medium Cigarettes sign on the south facade.

Signage on the column at the pub entrance. It refers to the entrance for the offices above being via the other door at the north corner. It reads "D.B.KING CONSULTING ROOM". Below that is "LOITERING STRICTLY PROHIBITED By Order".

The bar entrance with shadows from the decorative security gate.

This throughway is in the adjoining building, but also offers access to the rear of the bar. It currently serves for wheelie bins too, but at one time may have allowed horses of patrons to get to the back area.

DAILY RECORD : https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/historic-renton-pub-tragic-loss-23948163

HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND : https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB42928

PUB HERITAGE : https://pubheritage.camra.org.uk/pubs/261

VALE OF LEVEN PROJECT : This gives a fine overview of Renton in years past describing the Main Street at the time : https://www.valeofleven.org.uk/renton.html

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