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Battlefield Rest is an Edwardian former tramcar shelter, once considered ‘the most exotic tram shelter in Scotland’ (Battlefield Rest: About). The building has had quite a history, involving disputes over a replica tram tearoom, and current closure threats as the result of increased business rates of 400%.

The shelter was designed by Frank Burnet and Boston Architects in 1914-15, with an Art Nouveau style clock tower and exterior features, green and cream tiles, and a north gable featuring a plaque which reads ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’ (Historic Environment Scotland). The original building, B-listed since 1981, featured three sections: public toilets, a newsagents, and a waiting room. According to Historic Environment Scotland:

‘Battlefield Rest former tram shelter is the only known example of a tram shelter of this scale and design to have been built in Scotland. It was built for the Glasgow Tram Corporation, which was the largest late 19th century city tram system known in Britain. The former Battlefield Tramcar Shelter was built as the result of a design competition in 1914 for a prototype tram shelter for Glasgow Tram Corporation. It was intended that numerous tram stops would be built around the city, however, plans to build further shelters were shelved due to the outbreak of the First World War and construction was not resumed after the war. Consequently Battlefield Rest was the only one built. It was opened on 18 August 1915 and remains the only example of its type.’

Glasgow’s tramway system, established in 1872 and once the largest in Europe with 1,000 tram cars, closed in 1962 (see our forthcoming history of Glasgow’s Tramway). In 1992, Glasgow District Council Building Control ordered the derelict and damaged building to be demolished. A petition of over 1,500 signatures saved the building, and it was sold to Marco Giannasi, who began restoring it the following year (Battlefield Rest: About). Between 1994-6 (there are conflicting accounts), Battlefield Rest reopened as a restaurant. It has gone on to receive numerous awards, including many Papa Industry Awards, and is recommended by The List, and Visit Scotland.

Giannasi spent five years applying for permission to install a 1920s replica tram on the public walkway next to the building, to be used as a tearoom and performance space, in hopes that this would boost tourism in the area. He intended profits to go to local charities and good causes. It was to be a one-of-a-kind project. Giannasi said:


‘The idea started many years ago when I took over the Battlefield restaurant and restored it. We thought it would be great to have a tram and make it a feature of the area. […] We are hoping to build a replica of a 1920s Glasgow tram and I have spoken to the Tramway about the possibility of doing live shows in the afternoon or evening.’ (Evening Times 15 August 2016).


He had hoped to draw both city residents and tourists to the South Side, pointing out that:


‘Tourist maps stop at the Clyde, and the South Side has always been neglected. There are beautiful things in the area but nobody crosses the river for some reason. The tram would be an opportunity to bring tourists and people from the north of the city to the south’ (Evening Times 15 August 2016).


He had five letters of support, and there were no public objections to the plans, but the council rejected them. According to a report by Glasgow City planners, the replica tram ‘would obscure the frontage of the category B-listed building, in a way that would not have been the case with the original use of the property’, when ‘trams would have only temporarily paused in front of the building before continuing their journey’ (Evening Times 21 October 2018).

In 2018, two major things happened. First, Battlefield Rest was named ‘Restaurant of the Year’ by Glasgow’s Food Awards. Second, Giannasi was faced with an increase in his business rates bill of 400%, and an annual bill hike of £27,000, due to the 2017 revaluation of non-domestic properties (Glasgow Herald 21 March 2018). He is appealing the ‘unacceptable’ (Glasgow Herald 21 March 2018) new bill, and has raised over 2,850 signatures (with 1,000 raised in just four days) protesting the scale of the increased rates.

Giannasi has both an online petition, as well as a paper petition in the restaurant which has gained several hundred signatures. You can sign the online petition here: https://www.change.org/p/city-assessors-ggc-fair-rates-for-battlefield-rest. According to Giannasi, the hike would be equal to ramping up the price of a cup of coffee to £10 at the restaurant (Glasgow Herald 21 March 2018), and could result in the loss of 16 jobs, and the closure of the award-winning restaurant.

For now, Giannasi will pay a transitional 50% of his increased bill. The Scottish Government moved to put a temporary 12.5% cap on rises in rates payable, and are in the process of implementing a series of recommendations to reform the business rates system (Glasgow Herald 21 March 2018). The appeal case continues to be delayed, and the local rates assessors have been vague, Giannasi claims, about the logic behind the sharp rate increase. The campaign continues.

Giannasi has joined a group of restaurants faced with massively increased business rates, who are planning to propose rates system reforms to the Finance Minister. In 2019, Battlefield Rest won the Glasgow Retail Business Awards for the second year running, and continues to be a local landmark, worth visiting for both its heritage value, and its delicious food.

By Saskia McCracken


  1. http://battlefieldrest.co.uk/about
  2. http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB32361
  3. https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/14682334.tram-to-be-used-as-tearoom-in-south-side-restaurant/
  4. https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/16997742.tramcar-tearoom-plans-for-glasgows-south-side-derailed-by-council-bosses/
  5. https://www.heraldscotland.com/business_hq/16098391.restaurant-protest-against-400-rates-bill-hike-backed-by-hundreds-of-customers/
  6. https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/battle-save-battlefield-rest
  7. https://www.glasgowsouthandeastwoodextra.co.uk/news/business/battlefield-rest-scoops-top-award-1-4787482
  8. http://www.scotcities.com/cathcart/langside.htm
  9. https://www.change.org/p/city-assessors-ggc-fair-rates-for-battlefield-rest


4 replies added

  1. Lily McDonald June 4, 2020 Reply

    This restaurant is such a valuable asset to this city with its history and delicious food. The staff are so friendly and I have relatives from England who come for a weekend just to visit it and enjoy the food. We have to safe this building and resturaunt. We have lost so much in this area.

  2. Pam Mather June 5, 2020 Reply

    Interesting article. I, for one, adore the place and hugely admire what Marco, his wife and staff have done to make the Battlefield Rest such an iconic and popular eating place in Glasgow’s South Side. I was really saddened that the City Council turned down the proposal regarding the tram. It seemed like a marvellous idea that would encourage expansion of tourism south of the Clyde in Glasgow for there so much to be seen and explored there

  3. Sandie Gray June 9, 2020 Reply

    This building must be saved. Marco and his team have worked so hard to restore it and build up a thriving business.
    It’s a unique historical building. The rate increase is utterly obscene. If domestic rates went up 400% there would be an outcry.

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