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GOING OUT: Pubs PAUL ENGLISH finds his seas legs to check out the swish makeover on the Ferry since its refit and move to another berth on the Broomielaw.


I LEARNED something the other day. Apparently, the term "steaming" is a throwback to more temperate days when you couldn't buy alcohol on a Sunday, except on a boat.

Hence the reason why folk would ferry themselves down to the riverside, jump on a steam boat and get drunk - steaming.

There you go.

As it turns out, I've been carrying on the tradition for years, drinking on the Renfrew Ferry every fourth weekend.

In the days before the long-overdue development of the Glasgow Clydeside, the old ferry - a steam boat which used to shuffle pasengers betweenYoker and Renfrew - sat on the Tradeston side of the river. It was all a bit murky down there - dark and shady, difficult to get a taxi late at night.

After hosting visitors at 1988's Glasgow Garden Festival, the retired vessel has long since been a venue for gigs and club nights.

Perhaps one of the city's most unusual club venues (although I've recently heard of one up a close in the Merchant City) the Ferry played host to clubs like Vegas, a swinging tribute to the Rat Pack and fat-Elvis eras.

It was a distinctive venue, ramshackle, cold yet brimful of character.

But the toilets were prone to freezing mid-winter, the tiny stairs - you could barely get a toe on them - were lethal, and the angled gangplank (yes, gangplank) became a Krypton Factor challenge after a few yo-ho-hos and a bottle of rum.

Now, though, all that's changed. The Ferry's had a refit, and a reberth. The result? She's sailing in higher class.

Harboured in the moorings in the harbour of Tuxedo Princess on the north side of the Clyde, the Ferry is now the only watering hole on the lower Broomielaw (discounting hotel bars) after this year's closure of legendary Daily Record boozer, The Copycat.

Early reports suggested that the refit had sanitised the old girl to her detriment, producing a slick and polished bar/diner/club space - more classy cafe than dingy dinghy. You no longer need climbing ropes to tackle the stairs and the cloakrooms, toilets and bars now look as you'd expect of a riverside .

It used to look like a ferry that occassionally housed the Glasgow equivalent prohibition era speak-easy.

Now, it's a very definately an all-round entertainment venue that used to be a ferry.

The external deck houses tables and chairs, with plans for a roof and outdoor heaters which owners hope will lure punters to watch the flow over the soon-to-be-built pedestrian bridge.

Although I'm still a bit confused about what there is in Tradeston to cross a river for... A wee sports bar area downstairs is a nice change from the normal footie boozers, and it's unquestionably a nice place for an afternoon coffee or pint.

However, it's not all plain sailing. Complaints from locals about sound levels have led to twiddling of volume knobs, even the cancellation of some events, sadly.

Tonight, though, sees the fifth birthday party of Vegas on the Ferry.

And you can bet your bunny-girl bustier that a few hundred clubbers will spend their evening steaming on the Clyde.

Just like the good old days

The Ferry

Anderston Quay Glasgow, G3 8DLTel: 0141 248 5376Opening hours: From12pm-11pm daily (gigs and clubs nights vary; food until 6.30pm) Closed Monday.

Drinks: Pint, pounds 2.60; vodka and coke pounds 2.50; glass of wine pounds 2.40; coffee pounds 1.30 Rating: Four out of five


Ship-shape: Customers enjoy the smart, new Ferry
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 15, 2005
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