Monday, 19 November 2007
McKerrow family and the Globe in Dumfries
Isn't it odd how literary genius and licensed premises oft, like freedom and whisky, gang t'gither? The Old Boars Head (Ben Johnson) and The Mermaid (Shakespeare) spring to mind. In Dumfries, the Globe Inn, in the High Street will always be associated with Robert Burns. It is one of the country's oldest hostelries, established in 1610. Robert Burns frequented the Globe firstly from Ellisland Farm, whilst he was building the farmhouse, and subsequently when he moved into the town of Dumfries.
One of my relatives owns the Globe Inn and I hope to visit soon for some freebees and a yarn.
Dumfries in Burns' time was economically, and socially, more significant than it is today; in 1752 it was described as the 'Scottish Liverpool' with more American tobacco trade than Glasgow. Its importance as a west coast port was emphasized by the fact that an estimated 21,000 people from all over
The McKerrow family have owned the Globe since 1937, both Matthew and George becoming Burns Federation Presidents. Many still remember Jack and "Ma Broon" who had a long association with the Globe. In those days, like many other pubs of the day the back room of the Globe was very much a male working class drinking den, devoid of creature comforts but complete with a piano, of sorts, and a set of drums with every encouragement to the clientele to provide their own entertainment. Ma would rule her fiefdom and put up with no nonsense. If someone, to whom she did not take to, opened the sliding door of the snug he was politely told - "Nae laddie, your place is next door".
The present landlady, Maureen McKerrow, George's daughter-in-law, has seen, over the last 29 years much of the High Street demolished, and rebuilt, around the Globe. The building was after all originally open to the High Street, the horses being stabled in what is now the lounge bar. Some things never change for in 1945, Matthew McKerrow noted that a sum had been set aside to pay for the re-roofing of the property when such work was possible (there was a lack of building materials at the time) and one imagines that the roof will need constant repair to this day. Some things do change ... He also put down that "the property should not be sold to a foreigner"! Nowadays overseas visitors are especially welcome, hopefully to receive the same warmth of hospitality experienced by the Bard.