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Doune Castle – Shawlands’ forgotten music venue


Local folk passing the unloved and empty Poundworld shopfront on Kilmarnock Rd may not know of its colourful past and the contribution it made to the Scottish music scene in the 1970s and 1980s.


Former Doune Castle venue site, now bearing the defunct Poundworld chain's signage
Former Doune Castle venue site, now bearing the defunct Poundworld chain’s signage


Some key and influential names in Scottish, UK and global rock and pop plied their musical skills and mingled in their early days in the compact surrounds of this now vacant retail unit, which has gone through a number of changes…

The Kilmarnock Rd site began life as a F.W. Woolworth & Co Ltd store in 1936.


Woolworth, 29-79 Kilmarnock Rd, 1939. Image copyright of Glasgow Coty Archives
Woolworth, 29-79 Kilmarnock Rd, 1939. Image © Glasgow City Archives


In the 1960s, Woolworths (as it became known as) relocated to bigger premises on the opposite side of the road, in the newly built Shawlands Arcade.

The old Woolworths building became a pub called Doune Castle, and sadly they plastered over the unlisted Art Deco stone facade, making it more fashionable but a somewhat less timeless building.


Photo of Doune Castle, Kilmarnock Road, Shawlands. Copyright: Colin Duncan, 1969-70
Doune Castle, Shawlands. Photo © Colin Duncan, 1969-70


The Doune Castle was part of the Rio Stakis group of hotels and restaurants. Upstairs was a bar and restaurant and downstairs was a beer cellar. It was here that many upcoming musicians got an early experience of playing live.

Simple Minds, Horse McDonald, Ian Donaldson of H20, Tom Rafferty of the Primevals, Brian McNeill of China Crisis and James Grant of Love and Money all played the gloomy beer cellar along with many others.


Former Doune Castle venue building in Shawlands 2022
Former Doune Castle venue building in Shawlands, 2022


Tom Rafferty recalls the early days of the Doune Castle and its role in the Glasgow music scene:

“My earliest public gigs were at the Doune Castle. I now realise that the room was a challenging space for bands to perform in, with stone walls, a fairly low ceiling and the stage set up so bands played across the narrowest part of the cellar. But the venue was a chance for pretty much anyone to ask for a gig and get what was usually a Tuesday night slot for a small fee.”

The venue was where many musicians started out sometimes working with others that would become successful in their own right. Tom Rafferty’s first gig was in 1979 in a band called Kashmir whose personnel also included James Grant, who went on to have chart success with Friends Again, Love and Money and is now a popular solo artist.


Former Doune Castle venue and Woolthworth building in Shawlands 2022
Former Doune Castle venue & art deco Woolthworth building in Shawlands 2022


Simple Minds played the Doune Castle in their early days. The Herald Diary on the 11th Feb 2004 carried this memory from the band-

“The original line-up of Scots group Simple Minds was reunited this week for the first time in 20 years at the 60th birthday party of their manager, Bruce Findlay.

Guests naturally reminisced about the good old days like the time in 1978 when the Minds gigged at the Doune Castle pub in Shawlands, Glasgow, for a fee of (pounds) 25 plus a tray of filled rolls.

Sadly, the band’s performance was repeatedly interrupted by the pub’s management, asking them to turn the volume down as they were playing loudly enough to cause peas to leap off diners’ plates in the steakhouse upstairs.”

Young musicians would cut their teeth in this venue and move on to other bands, and many have crossed paths later in their career.

Brian McNeill, who went on to play keyboards with China Crisis, the Silencers, the Proclaimers, and now is Belle and Sebastian’s music producer, started out playing at the Doune around the same time as Horse McDonald was playing gigs in an earlier band. Their paths crossed again later when Brian played keyboards for Horse on their successful 1990 album ‘The Same Sky’.


Black and white photo of Doune Castle, Kilmarnock Road, Shawlands. Copyright: Colin Duncan, circa 1969-70
View of Doune Castle, Kilmarnock Rd circa 1969-70. Photo © Colin Duncan


Members of what would become Primal Scream also had some of their earliest live experiences in this Southside venue. Tom Rafferty recalls selling a bass amplifier to Robert Young of the band, and of meeting Robert years later at the height of their Screamadelica fame.

“I went over to say hello at a gig in Glasgow, not expecting him to remember me. He did and said ‘that Marshall amp is why I’m still doing this’.”

The Doune Castle’s legacy is more about the community that it helped to create. It gave many young musicians a chance to play live and to watch and meet other aspiring musicians, share experiences and learn their craft.


Former Doune Castle venue surrounded by Victorian-era neighbours in November 2022
Former Doune Castle surrounded by Victorian-era neighbours, 2022


So, next time you walk past the empty shopfront on Kilmarnock Road, remember how many famous musicians that shaped Scottish music played this tiny venue before they were famous and how lucky Glasgow was to have this local music venue.

Did you ever frequent Doune Castle… what bands did you see, or did you play there? Do you have any photos from back then? Let us know in the comments.


By Dougie McLellan

Published: 1st December 2022

Image credits:


Kilmarnock Road, Shawlands (colour and black & white photos), circa 1969-70 – copyright of Colin Duncan.

Woolworth, Kilmarnock Rd, 1939 – copyright of Glasgow City Archives, Virtual Mitchell website.

Present day closed-down Poundworld & Kilmarnock Rd photos, 27 November 2022 – Deirdre Molloy, SGHET.


17 replies added

  1. Simon Gallacher December 2, 2022 Reply

    Absolutely loved this article, thank you. I grew up on Trefoil Avenue and passed that place so many times on the way to Queen’s Park and school.
    Didn’t the Doune also have a MASSIVE sword to the left of the name (as you face the pub)?

    • Len Marsh December 7, 2022 Reply

      Hi Simon. It was actually a giant crossbow. It now hangs outside the Coylumbridge Hotel just outside Aviemore. I took a pic and posted it on my FB profile last week.

  2. Alan England December 3, 2022 Reply

    We (The Sinister Turkeys) used to play there around 1979, usually supporting the Alleged, then run down to Battlefield with our guitars and drumsticks for the last bus back to EK. Brilliant times. Incidentally the Alleged are now back playing.

  3. Kenneth McNeil December 3, 2022 Reply

    Spent many a happy night in the Bier Keller. It was always at weekends in the early ’70s.

  4. Alan Hamilton December 7, 2022 Reply

    Brilliant article Dougie and yes many a fine night was spent listening to up and coming live bands in the beer cellar.
    My own band at the time ‘Distant Echoes’ played there many times and we really enjoyed it.
    Sad to see the place is in disrepair hopefully something good can happen there soon.

  5. Steven Alexander December 7, 2022 Reply

    Good memories of a band called Shady Deal doing Dire Straits -Sultans of Swing cover in the beer cellar. Place was crammed. Terrific venue.

  6. Frederick Smith December 8, 2022 Reply

    Hi i worked as trainee manager, and helped to book bands, infor the Beir Kellar, only band name I can rember is Sneaky Pete,
    Yep it was a small venu, always busy, strong German beer on draft, and chiken wire from roof to floor to protect the bands who were not so good, the pub was managed by a older couple, Mr Andrea’s,

  7. Sheena February 17, 2023 Reply

    I did most of my underage drinking here in the late 60’s/early 70’s. It was always packed at weekends and the beer was great. Only took a half pint or, at most, two and I was legless Good loud music and great atmosphere. I remember it being renowned too for the Stakis steak & chips and chicken in a basket.

  8. Elspeth March 10, 2023 Reply

    I went to the Doune Castle every Fri & Sat. The Travelling people were the group who played there. Singing anything from Buddy Holly. Del Shannon Everley Bros. Etc.. It was my ‘go to’ place. Along with friends old and new. I left Glasgow in 1975. I look back on happy times with a smile ..

  9. David March 17, 2023 Reply

    Bands I remember playing there include Trilogy and Contraband. Sadly missed.

  10. rick patton August 19, 2023 Reply

    Played many gigs with my band Nasty back in the 70s in the Doune Castle. Like all his pubs, Reo Stakis was renowned for being cheap (what he paid us).

  11. Anne Tees September 14, 2023 Reply

    I was a waitress at the DC from 72-75 so the music was supplied by a resident band but they were fab, especially Marianne the singer. They played a lot of early Gerry Rafferty music. That period was one of the best in my life.

  12. Robert January 29, 2024 Reply

    Did the place not become The Village? As coming from Paisley i went there mid/late 80`s

  13. Jim McKenna February 10, 2024 Reply

    My band (The Idle Threats) played there in the basement a few times around 1977/8..GREAT beer as I remember (Lowenbrau?)!
    Happy daze!

  14. Tony Griffin March 28, 2024 Reply

    I used to go to the Doune Castle on Friday nights in the early 70s to see an electric folk band doing a lot of Fairport Convention songs. They were absolutely brilliant – I think they were called Moocher’s Men, but I could be mistaken… anybody remember them?

  15. Ryan June 27, 2024 Reply

    Was there ever a huge crossbow on the outside of the building

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