Barrelhouse Bar rises again in a new guise, but Brutalist block of student flats may finish it off – John McLellan

The Barrelhouse Bar & Grill was forced to close permanently during the Covid pandemicThe Barrelhouse Bar & Grill was forced to close permanently during the Covid pandemic
The Barrelhouse Bar & Grill was forced to close permanently during the Covid pandemic
In a leaflet during the last council election, I criticised the exterior of the Barrelhouse Bar at Jock’s Lodge, which was made to look like a rusting tin shack from the Mississippi Delta to reflect its Blues theme.

One of my election opponents thought it would make a good story for the Evening News and it duly made a page of its own. Most people I spoke to tended to agree it was ugly but one lady, a friend of the proprietor, told me where to go in no uncertain terms.

Despite the exterior, the management worked hard to make the pub a strong part of the community and largely succeeded, but it couldn’t survive the pandemic without customers.

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The good news is it has risen again but in a new guise, and I’m glad to say the poverty pastiche has been replaced by a tasteful new design and the pub renamed The Willow.

The corrugated iron is still there – I’m told the brewery insisted for some inexplicable reason ─ but it’s painted in a nice olive green with the new tree logo, so you barely notice.

I hope it’s a success, but it might not have long as the site has been earmarked by the owners for demolition and its replacement with a block of student flats with what might be described as a new Brutalist design.

The grimly institutional look of the initial designs is unlikely to go down well with local people; the Barrelhouse exterior might have looked tatty, but at least it was trying to have character.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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