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Past Times

Raising a glass to Dundee pubs from days gone by

Local boozers have been the lifeblood of Dundee for generations and these photos are sure to evoke memories for generations of pub-goers. reports.
Graeme Strachan
Regulars in the Stobswell Bar in 1985.
Regulars in the Stobswell Bar in 1985. Image: DC Thomson.

Local boozers have been the lifeblood of Dundee for generations and these photos are sure to evoke memories for generations of pub-goers.

There was one pub for every 144 people in Dundee in the middle of the 19th century.

Some have withstood the test of time while others are gone but not forgotten.

The DC Thomson archives team has dug out a varied and interesting selection of black and white photographs featuring city centre pubs and scheme boozers.

Some have not been seen for years.

The pictorial tour of Dundee pubs’ past and present is courtesy of The Dundonian which appears in the Evening Telegraph every Wednesday.

Have a look and see if you remember any of these haunts.


The Balmore Bar

An interior view of the bar area of the Balmore Bar in Dundee in 1981.
An interior view of the bar area of the Balmore Bar in 1981. Image: DC Thomson.

The Balmore Bar in Dura Street is famous for its traditional features which include stained-glass windows and brass water spouts on the bar.

The community pub underwent a £135,000 interior and exterior refurbishment in 2022 and remains a hugely popular place for regulars and football supporters alike.

Bensons Bar

Part of the tasteful interior of Bensons Bar in Arbroath Road in 1984.
Part of the tasteful interior of Bensons Bar in Arbroath Road in 1984. Image: DC Thomson.

Regulars drink up at Bensons Bar in 1984 where you could get a pint for 72p!

The pub has remained a fixture over the decades despite various name changes but today it is still known as the Bensons Bar and was recently been put up for sale.

The Bread

The Breadalbane Arms, commonly known as The Bread, on Constitution Road in 1979. Image: DC Thomson.

The Breadalbane Arms at the bottom of Constitution Road was known as The Bread and was popular with students from Dundee College.

The climb up the hill to the college, plus all the steps, definitely kept you fit before you undid all that good work by having a few pints in The Bread at lunchtime!

Cactusville Bar

The Cactusville Bar, Castle Street, Dundee, on Hogmanay 1982.
The Cactusville Bar, Castle Street, Dundee, on Hogmanay 1982. Image: DC Thomson.

The old Cactusville Bar on Castle Street was known for its many mirrors.

The pub is pictured in 1982 and became Madigan’s Tea Room and Book Shop.

The Copper Beach

Dundee pub The Copper Beech in Derwent Avenue in 1962.
The Copper Beech in Derwent Avenue in 1962. Image: DC Thomson.

Alloa Brewery Company offered the pub for lease in November 1987.

The advert for prospective tenants made clear applicants “should know the area and have the ability to control a traditionally ‘hard’ pub”.

The Fairway Bar

The interior of the Fairway Bar, Birkdale Place, in 1969.
The interior of the Fairway Bar, Birkdale Place, in 1969. Image: DC Thomson.

The Fairway at Birkdale Place near the Downfield Golf Course was described as “one of the largest and best decorated public houses in the north of Scotland”.

The lounge room was available for “engagements, 21sts, weddings, funerals, meetings or conferences” with “prize bingo” Tuesday and “ladies night” every Thursday.

The Hansom Cab

Bygone Dundee pub The Hansom Cab is now known as Tickety Boo's.
The Hansom Cab in 1986. Image: DC Thomson.

The Hansom Cab, on the corner of Seagate and Commercial Street, had a reputation for being a haven for underage drinking in the 1970s.

The pub is still there today as the rebranded Tickety Boo’s.

The Jimmy Shand

Inside bygone Dundee pub The Jimmy Shand in 1986.
The Jimmy Shand in Dickson Avenue, Menzieshill, in 1986. Image: DC Thomson.

The Jimmy Shand in Dickson Avenue, once a local watering hole for many in Menzieshill, was named after the the King of Scottish Dance Music.

After it closed its doors in 2011 the boarded-up pub became a graffiti magnet before being demolished in 2020 to make way for new homes on the site.

The Kettledrum

The Kettledrum, South Road, Lochee, in 1963. Image: DC Thomson.

A striking 1963 shot of the pub which is close to the foot of Buttars Loan and Brownlee Road and has been a popular watering hole in Lochee for decades.

All around it might have changed but the pub is still going strong in 2024.

The Shakespeare Bar

The Shakespeare Bar in Hilltown in 1962.
The Shakespeare Bar in Hilltown in 1962. Image: DC Thomson.

The Shakespeare Bar in the Hilltown in 1962 when it stood next to Fraser’s barber shop, Calder the grocer and AC Burnside which was a gents outfitters.

The pub remains there today and is now called The Hill Bar.

A fitting name given the location.

Sinatra’s

Sinatra’s public house in 1981. Image: DC Thomson.

Sinatra’s was the brainchild of local businessman Ian Hindmarsh whose plan was to provide an “outstandingly comfortable and stylish lounge bar for Dundonians”.

The image of Sinatra adorned virtually every wall in the Dundee pub with a choice of cocktails with such titles as My Way and Strangers in the Night.

Sinatra’s remained popular for almost three decades before closing in 2011.

Town House

The Town House at the foot of King Street in Dundee in 1983.
The Town House at the foot of King Street in 1983. Image: DC Thomson.

The Town House bar opened in May 1983 with a promise to “recreate the splendour of an era when style was everything”.

The pub’s peaks and troughs over the coming years would coincide with the peaks and troughs of the city itself.

The dress code is long gone but the Town House remains a popular spot due to its regular entertainment programme including live music, bingo, karaoke and dominoes.

It’s the final image in our gallery of city pubs from days gone by.

Did our pictorial trip back in time jog any memories for you?

Let us know.

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