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Design Feature – The Counting House, Glasgow

Situated at the west end of Glasgow’s famous George Square, this iconic building started life as the Glasgow head office for the Bank of Scotland.

The magnificent premises, on the southwest corner of the square, were designed for the bank by architect John Thomas Rochead (1814–78) during 1867–70, dated earlier than the City Chambers building (1899), sitting directly opposite.

Rochead’s spectacular design, in the Italian Renaissance Barryesque palazzo style, set the tone for the west end of George Square, at that time, and many of the subsequent buildings in the area followed suit.

Crest

The building’s entrance, sculptured by William Mossman II (1824–84) boasts two massive stone Atlantes door pieces – male figures depicting the Greek mythology god. Above the front door, a sculpted Bank of Scotland crest is flanked by carved symbolic figures.

Much of the original Victorian décor remains today, and the interior is still one of the city’s finest-ever bank interiors – although now, obviously, a highly popular and extremely busy Wetherspoon pub.

A large marble & dark wood central horseshoe-shaped island bar, located in the double-height former banking hall, greets visitors entering via the premises’ main doors.

Columns

Corinthian columns divide panelled surrounding areas, supporting a frieze of decorative plasterwork above, with semi-circular panels and masqued keystones.

In the ceiling, above the bar area, looms a large and spectacularly impressive hemispherical glazed and chequered cupola (dome), supported around the walls by 16 caryatids – sculpted standing female figures, acting as decorative columns.

The walls are adorned throughout the pub with images of old Glasgow and portraits of historical characters, either associated with the old bank or with connections to Scotland.

Vaults

Even the bank’s former vaults are still in situ, now serving as a more intimate space for socialising. Complete with original iron gates, walls of security box doors and a heavy ‘anti-explosive and anti-blowpipe’ vaulted entrance, the area is much unchanged.

Other rooms (once offices) provide smaller areas away from the large main bar, with walls adorned with paintings, historical artwork and framed banknotes. A window seat offers great views across George Square.

The Counting House opened in December 1996 as Wetherspoon’s first pub in Scotland.

2 St Vincent Place, Glasgow, G1 2DH
Tel: 0141 225 0160