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The Citizen: New restaurant evokes memories of people's paper

The last issue of the Glasgow institution was printed on Friday, March 29, 1974.

The Citizen: The people's paper ran for more than a century.
The Citizen: The people's paper ran for more than a century. Canmore/Michael Meighan

For more than a century, The Citizen newspaper was the first place Glaswegians would get their news.

In a time when breaking news was reserved for vendors' cries, memories of parents running across the road to pick up a copy of the final edition are fresh in the minds of many.

Vendors had their own unique cry for hailing the arrival of each edition, a call of 'CitiZEN!' is fondly recalled by former readers.

One of the city's most successful papers, its three publications included a daily and evening paper alongside Saturday's green-hued supplement, which offered sports fans all the racing and football results.

Children would look out for the Friday edition and its glossy pullout posters to adorn bedroom walls.

Yet the daily institution became a victim of Glasgow's overwhelming variety of newspapers and as the popularity of the Daily Record and The Herald rose, The Citizen's readership declined and the last issue was printed on Friday, March 29, 1974.

The newspaper was launched in 1842 by James Hedderwick.
The newspaper was launched in 1842 by James Hedderwick. Canmore

Since then, the paper's red sandstone offices on St Vincent Place have been home to numerous projects, most recently a bar.

A restaurant company now hopes to bring a sense of nostalgia back to Glasgow by opening a new restaurant in its former offices, paying homage to The Citizen in the process.

Borrowing its name from the newspaper, The Citizen's masthead marks the entrance into the A1 listed building where the daily paper was produced, from the clacking typewriters right through to the printing presses.

A private dining area has been nicknamed the Editor's Suite and glass partitions hark back to the building's old layout.

Artist Lowdown created three artworks depicting the editor, journalist and photographer for the restaurant.
Artist Lowdown created three artworks depicting the editor, journalist and photographer for the restaurant. DRG

A feature on Glasgow nightlife that ran in the newspaper in the 1950s and 60s called On The Town is given a modern edge with contemporary images of Glaswegians adorning the walls - a homage which owners DRG say reflects The Citizen's image as the people's paper.

The Citizen was launched in 1842 by James Hedderwick and was one of the first of three newspapers to be printed, published and sold in Glasgow.

Moving to St Vincent Place in 1889, the paper was purchased by Beaverbrook Newspapers following Hedderwick's death and became an evening-only publication.

The threat of the Second World War led to the return of daily editions, however, with printing presses barely able to keep up with the constant news coming in from the continent.

It was a paper so large it could take your eye out many remark, with Glaswegians offering humorous memories of parents struggling to control pages much larger than today's broadsheets on the bus or on the kitchen table.

Glass partions have been installed to mimic the former newsroom.
Glass partions have been installed to mimic the former newsroom. DRG

The large pages meant the once read sheets would be used to 'draw' fires in the home, flying embers from the paper singeing more than a few eyebrows over the decades.

"My dad wrote a column for the Citizen called Looking at Glasgow," says Alan Fowler.

"One of my earliest memories is of visiting him at work. A, to me, vast space with a fug of cigarette smoke, the clack of typewriters and the smell of hot metal."

The Citizen was a right of passage for many, employing youngsters to deliver papers across the city, some joining family members in the delivery vans on school holidays.

Teenagers left school to work in the office as copy boys, running elevators in the hopes of earning a few tips or meeting celebrities while others helped reporters and photographers with their typewriters and camera equipment.

For Stewart Fair, his time as a lift boy in the early 1950s lead to a long career at the Citizen.

Starting out in 1953, he moved on to work in the paper's darkroom before departing for national service with the RAF. Upon his return in 1958, the editor let him loose with a camera and he never looked back.

The final edition was printed in 1974.
The final edition was printed in 1974. DRG

Now retired and living in France, he provided some of his images to the restaurant's owners for use as part of The Citizen's decor, front pages framed in the private Editor's Suite.

"Stewart's images reveal an eye for a magic moment. You can now find some of his greatest work featured around the restaurant, including images of world famous ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn rehearsing at the King's Theatre," says DRG director Tony.

"When we started this project it was with the view to have as many issues of The Evening Citizen as we could get our hands on.

"Our historian spent months at The Mitchell Library archives singling out interesting headlines, stories, old adverts, and photographs."

The restaurant pays homage to the paper's past from the design to the artwork.
The restaurant pays homage to the paper's past from the design to the artwork. DRG

As the company searched for stories about the newspaper, Lost Glasgow offered a helping hand with members of the Facebook page offering snippets of what life was like when the newspaper was a staple in the household.

Lesley-anne Burn recalled that her grandfather worked as a cartoonist, photographer and picture editor for the paper, while Neil Young remembered his grandfather writing a memoir about his life in Glasgow as well as his time as sports reporter before emigrating in 1947.

Now some 40 years since the printing presses ground to a halt, the magic of The Citizen has returned to the streets of Glasgow. While vendors may not be screeching its name at paper stands across the city, many may flock to its former offices to recall memories of the people's paper from the past.

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