History of the Club
A short summary
of over 34 years
Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry
was founded by the late Alex Fleming, opening its doors
as a Country & Western club in 1974. It was, and still is, the largest club of its
kind in the UK, if not in Europe.
The building was formerly the site of a Post Office, Carriage-Hirers and
Funeral Undertakers in the 1900s. The retaining walls of a former
mortuary, situated below ground level, still remain today and is now used by
the club staff as a storeroom.
in 1921 the building was converted into the Imperial Picture Hall by William Beresford Inglis,
designer and owner of the former Beresford Hotel in Glasgow's Sauchiehall
Street. The Imperial had one screen and could seat 1100 people. It
closed in 1959 and later became an Irish dancing club.
The structural layout inside the club is largely unchanged from its
Cinema days. A mezzanine level which would have been an upper circle
still remains and now provides overspill seating for visitors on
busy evenings. The area which housed the cinema projectors is still
visible above the bar.
The Grand Ole Opry thrived as a Country and Western club and became one of
Glasgow's most popular venues. Small wonder when it cost very little to
get in, the drinks were the cheapest in a 10-mile radius and the people
as pleasant as you could meet anywhere. All still as much true today as
it was in the early days.
The club was a large organisation with around 2000 members and a regular
attendance in the hundreds. A programme of live bands entertained the
club-goers every weekend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays! The
atmosphere was very special with almost everyone dressed in authentic
Western attire. Bands came from all over the UK, and also included top
country artists from Ireland and the USA such as Jean Shepherd, Heather Myles
and more recently, Hal Ketchum, to name just a few.
In the 80's the club
became home to the Glasgow Gunslingers,
where on Tuesday nights the air smelled of black powder and leather.
With guns blazin' they would fire blanks at balloons in a race against
the clock to see who was the fastest draw in the West of Scotland! Aged
from 14 to 65, the Gunslingers numbered more than a hundred guns, and in
summer they would head out into the country where they would run
fast-draw events. Along with these fund-raising events and annual dances
the Glasgow Gunslingers raised thousands
of pounds for charity.
The club has been seen on film and television on several occasions,
including an episode of the popular Taggart series in 1994 and a short film in
2007, "Bon Voyage", which featured many of the club regulars and members
of Cimarron, a local Country and Western band.
Nowadays the Grand Ole Opry caters for more modest numbers but still
enjoys a regular attendance on Fridays and Saturdays, the occasional
Sunday special, plus regular Charity events. The Opry has also gained a
reputation for being a credible venue for gigs and festivals and has been host
to Lloyd Cole, Franz Ferdinand, Celtic Connections and the Americana Festival of
Music, amongst others.
The club has a
seating capacity of 450 over 3 levels, 2 dance floors, a Saloon Bar and
a Chuck Wagon eatery for the hungry. It is
also available for private functions Sunday to Thursday.
Founder member Alex
Fleming was in no doubt about its appeal. "People come to have a good
time. There are no hassles about dress code, and you can listen, sing
and dance to country music. What more can you ask?" What more
And the women's view on the country scene? Well, as Southern Star alias
Mrs Sandra Anderson of Clarkston sums up - "It's the most easy-going
company you will get anywhere" she says. "It's for whole families or for
singles. But the main thing is it's for happy nights, and there's never
any trouble. I just wouldn't be without my country nights. Why don't you
try it sometime?"
The club has not lost any of it's appeal from the early days. Sadly, many of the
people mentioned on this web site are no longer with us.
But the fact that the club is still going strong, is still regularly attended by
many of the original members from the days when the club first opened, and is
gaining new members all the time, young and old, is indeed a lasting tribute to
all of our founder members and absent friends.