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Back on Dry Land in the Earl of Zetland.

A couple of posts ago we met the former Shetland ferry the Earl of Zetland which, in her latter stages of life, earned a living as a floating pub in Great Yarmouth called the Celtic Surveyor before reclaiming her original name and performing a similar role in other ports around the country. Whilst digging around t'interweb for information about her early life Mr. Google threw up the subject of this post which I was intending to directly follow on with, but a dose of apathy on my part and the inevitable passing of the days meant that the calendar determined that a Burns-related post had to be slipped in between them.

We go from a floating Earl of Zetland to one that's definitely on dry land. This one used to operate in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire – as it turns out, just a few miles away from where Robert Burns spent the night in Falkirk in that intervening post.

Just like that floating Earl of Zetland this one also didn't start off life as a pub. For its first one hundred and sixty years it was a church belonging to the Free Church of Scotland. You'll probably be pleased to hear that I'm not going to explore the history of the schism between the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland, or discuss The Great Disruption. Suffice to say that it probably played a part in the construction of a new building on Bo'ness Road, whose foundation stone was laid in April 1883 with completion following in February 1884, as the Zetland Free Church of Scotland.

What's with all this Zetland stuff? Well, Grangemouth was founded in 1768 by Sir Lawrence Dundas as a result of the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal. His grandson, also Lawrence, was created Earl of Zetland on the occasion of Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838 and it was his son Thomas, the 2nd Earl, who had provided the money for the construction of the town's original place of worship and who, at the time of The Great Disruption, had sided with the Free Church.

The church closed in 2003 and was bought by Wetherspoon's in 2007 who proceeded to provide Pacific Building a cool £650,000 to fit the place out as a pub, with it serving its first pint on 25th February 2008.

The conversion kept the stained glass and the bar was placed below the old organ pipes.

After a drop in the company's profits, Wetherspoon's put it up for sale in November 2015 whereupon it passed into the possession of Hawthorn Leisure who, fourteen months later were trying to offload it themselves. As to who bought it I'm uncertain, but I do know that it served its final pint on 25th February 2022 – exactly fourteen years to the day after it pulled its first one.

When Mr. Google drove past in April 2023 the For Sale signs were in place...

Earl of Zetland Grangemouth
The former Earl of Zetland for sale in April 2023. © Google 2024

...and at the time of posting (January 2024) it's still available. If you've a spare quarter of a million stuffed into shoe boxes under your bed, plus the obligatory 20% vodka and tonic, of course, then perhaps you might want to give Colliers a ring. You can have a look at the particulars by clicking here.

None of the last three posts has involved much census crawling or directory delving. However, I'm pretty certain that they will be required for the next one.

Thanks to deltrems@flickr for the use of his images.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.


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