Memories of the Grand Hotel

by Chris Jones on February 20, 2016

Memories of life at the Grand Hotel by Neil McPhee

This is a wonderful site of Charing Cross and especially the Grand Hotel. I worked there as a page boy alongside my brother (second head porter) and school friend (porter) in the period just before it closed down. Latterly, the hotel was owned by Glasgow Corporation who rented it back to its previous owner, the United Co-operative Baking Society (UCBS), and it’s passing marked the end of a way of life. Right up to the last day, we would have regulars come in for afternoon tea or a drink at the bar. Mr Howden was the hotel manager until the year before it closed in 1968 and for that final year it was managed by his deputy manager, Mr Konsten, who subsequently went on to manage the Dunblane Hydro Hotel. George Kennedy was the Head Porter and he could take a tip from a guest and pocket it faster than the eye could see.

Weddings there were always welcome and lavish affairs with the Ballroom Suite carpets being rolled up and French chalk being dusted over the floor for the dancing. Tour buses full of Americans, Canadians, and even Russians would pull up and all their luggage would be unloaded. The lift was reserved for guests so we had to carry all the luggage up to each room via the stairs. If the tour was late, we had to stay on duty until it arrived, so sometimes we would be on from 7am until 2am the following day. Overtime was not paid.

We had a night porter whom we called “Flash” since he was so slow and doddery at his job. One of these jobs involved going round all the rooms where the guests left their shoes outside to be cleaned and polished as part of the service. Flash decided one night that it would be much more beneficial if he could bring all the shoes so he went to the laundry room for a laundry basket, the big ones on wheels, and duly gathered them all up and brought them downstairs. He finished cleaning them by early morning but forgot to take a note of which shoes came from where. All the guests had to come down to reception in bare feet that morning to pick out their shoes. Flash was taken off that duty. A lot of the staff stayed in at the hotel and some of the waitresses had flats belonging to the hotel that were situated just a few yards up on Woodside Crescent.

Working as a page boy was the hardest job I ever had. It was my first job since leaving school and it opened my eyes to every side of life. Even after the hotel had closed and I was helping pack up and sell all the furniture etc., some past guests would still come in for one last nostalgic look round. Jack House did a full page spread on the Grand for the Evening Times as he was a regular there and full of praise for it. Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley stayed at The Grand Hotel when his travelling show came to Glasgow in 1892.

Neil McPhee

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel 1

The Grand Hotel, Glasgow (1878-1968)

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter J May 22, 2016 at 9:24 am

I so wished I could’ve seen Charing Cross as it was before the area was demolished to make way for the M8. It’s especially wonderful to see the water fountain, which still stands in the same spot. I’ll now look at the area very differently as I walk through it on my way home from work in the evenings.


Chris Jones May 22, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Hi Peter,

Hopefully the photos here and in the section on Charing Cross will help.

Best wishes,


Peter J May 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

They have Chris, they really have. I have only recently discovered your site, but I’ve already spent many evenings engrossed! Thanks for all the effort you’ve put in to making it what it is.

All the best,

Don S. Cairns September 11, 2016 at 8:00 am

Chris they are superb photos, have just discovered the site. It’s brilliant.



Chris Jones October 8, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Thanks Don. I’m glad you are enjoying it.



Miranda Stuart April 17, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Hi Chris

I’ve also just discovered the site and am really enjoying it. I’m a student at the Art School, and my main project is on the M8 development and the places that were demolished to make way for the motorway. I’ve been creating poems and illustrations using archival material and survey reports. I would really like to use some of Neil’s story in some of my work – would it be possible to be put in touch with him to ask if this is ok, and maybe even to have a chat?

Thank you, and keep up the great work!

Georgina June 26, 2017 at 9:29 am

Hi Chris,

I was wondering whether you would be able to put me in touch with Neil McPhee? I would love to interview him for the documentary I am planning to make.

Many thanks,


Alice August 8, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for making this great website!
A friend and I are currently working on making an audio documentary about the buildings in Glasgow which were destroyed to make way for the motorway, and I was wondering if you are still in contact with Neil, if you could possibly pass on my email address and ask if he might be interested in being interviewed for the documentary? His memories of the Grand Hotel are really fascinating, and it would be really great to have him take part.

All the best,


Chris Jones August 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Hi Alice,

Thank you very much for your comment and inquiry. I will try to contact Neil and put him in touch with you.

Wishing you the best of success with your documentary.


Chris Jones September 17, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Hi Miranda,

Thank you very much for your posting and comments. I did reach out to Neil some time ago but have not heard back from him. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you quoted from his recollections.

Best wishes with your project.


Chris Jones September 17, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Thank you Alice. I did reach out to Neil soon after receiving your message but I have not heard back from him. I will try again. Meanwhile, I hope everything is going well with your documentary.

Best wishes,


Aileen Aitcheson December 7, 2017 at 11:27 am

Hello Chris,

My father, William Hollywood Salmon, painted the ballroom when I was young. ( I am
now 76 years old!! ) This is now a vague memory but I remember the ceiling of this beautiful ballroom. He designed and painted it with ballerinas. I would love to find out more. Thanks anyone!


Chris Jones December 31, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Hello Aileen,

Thank you for sharing this information. Let’s hope a reader can provide additional information.

Best wishes,


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