Eye Spy Glasgow: a frieze that drinkers should warm to

Most Glaswegians don't stop to admire the aesthetic qualities of the pub architecture when they nip out for a drink.

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Perhaps when people are seated with their glass of wine or pint of beer they will nod in approval at the interior decor.

But the outside of the building is generally a blur - whether you're rushing to get to the bar or staggering out after one too many.

Which is a bit of a shame - especially if you're local is somewhere like the Citation bar in the Merchant City.

The building on Wilson Street was opened in 1844 as the Glasgow County Buildings.

When the City Chambers was completed in George Square in 1888, the Wilson Street building became the city's Sheriff Court.

It is wonderfully ornate, up there with any of the grand structures the Merchant City can boast.

But what catches the eye is a plinth with a frieze containing classical figures.

It was the work of a well-known Glasgow architectural partnership, William Clarke and George Bell, who won a competition to carry it out.

Both men were apprentices at the time and it was this piece of work that helped establish their reputations.

The frieze was built in three sections, one called Trial By Jury, the second International Commerce, and the third Series of Masks.

It is a stunning piece of work and most likely missed by the thousands of people - not just drinkers - who pass by daily.

The building served as the Sheriff Court until the 1980s and it doubtful whether any of the criminals who were dealt with inside appreciated the building as a work of art.

Messrs Clarke and Bell built up a highly successful partnership in the second half of the 19th century.

Clarke, at least, seems to have been a bit of a card.

His obituary read that he was "simple in manner, kindly of heart, genial in social intercourse, full of curious anecdote and reminiscence and with much humour of a peculiar quaintness".

I wonder if many regulars in the Citation nowadays share his qualities.

Food and drink

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