The history of the pub started in 1846 when William Turnbull, a spirit dealer, occupied the premises.
Over the next thirty-seven years, the licence changed hands several times.
On 17th June 1884, the licence was transferred to John Scouller. Mr Scouller completely refurbished the premises and gave the bar its name of The Horse Shoe Bar. He was fascinated with horses and named all his pubs with horses in mind, such as the Spur bar at 84 Polmadie Street and the Snaffle Bit in Howard Street.
Employed in The Horse Shoe, was a boy called John Young Whyte who, after many years service, became manager, eventually buying the Horse Shoe Bar in 1923. John Young Whyte also owned the Cecil Bar in Renfield Street and the Union in Union Street. He continued to add horse themes to the bar and the upstairs office where the clock, photos, tables and every item of furniture had a horse motif.
Other well known managers over the years were John Thomson and James MacKenzie. John Thomson, who completed forty-eight years behind the bar, came to Glasgow in 1890 and started work with Mr. Scouller. He took over the Spur Bar when Mr Scouller died and in 1930 he took over the licence of the Snaffle Bit.
James Mackenzie came to Glasgow in the 1920s and joined the staff of the Horse Shoe where he spent fifteen years. He transferred to the Union Bar when it was taken over by John Young Whyte.
In1988, the Horse Shoe Bar was classified by Historic Scotland as a Category A building of historic importance safeguarding both the external and interior from the ravages of so called modernisation.
In 2007, the present owners of the Horse Shoe, Mitchells & Butlers, attempted to change the age old tradition of a pie and a pint, by introducing a standard pub menu and doing away with the pies. Little did they realise how out of touch they were with the Horse Shoe regulars.
A web site petition raised 65,000 hits from all over the world in the space of a week, 90% in favour of the return of the humble pie. It was big news in Glasgow with national and local television and newspaper coverage. Eventually Mitchells & Butlers reversed their decision and the pies were back on.
Sadly another Horse Shoe well known fitting, the stained glass behind the main front windows, although not as old as the original fittings,was removed by Mitchells & Butlers leaving huge plain characterless windows to the street and completely spoiling the rich heritage created by John Young Whyte.
In 2013, replacement panels were installed by Michael Rogerson of a more modern design. The Horse Shoe now appears to be in excellent hands with Michael actively ensuring that other unique facets of The Horse Shoe have been retained and in some cases restored to their original condition.
2014 August - Saw the change unfortunately to the 'Famous Horse Shoe Pies' supplied by the local bakery of McGhees being replaced by pies, supplied frozen, through a multi-national supplier due to supposedly consolidation of suppliers and an EU regulation on Food Information for Consumers - Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011. Regulars noticed immediately the change in taste, (and the fluorescent green peas !!) however Mitchells & Butlers made no attempt to appease public opinion on either the pies or the removal of home-made dishes from their popular 3 course menu. Contact was made with Alistair Darby, Chief Executive of Mitchells & Butlers (left M&B 2015) as well as Jayne Baker, Retail Director (left M&B in 2015) and Rob Pitcher the Brand Operations Director (now-2016 M&B Divisional Director). Sadly, nothing could change the intransigent attitude of Mitchells & Butlers who went ahead with new pies and advised us that McGhees Bakers "Did not come up to the necessary A Standard qualification as required by Mitchells & Butlers under the EU Regulation", this despite the fact that they never contacted McGhees who naturally do have full EU Food Regulations Accreditation.
A total insult to one of the most highly respected and professional bakers in Scotland.
2015 saw continuation of the new frozen pies which were not popular with regulars but who's views were still being ignored for a change back to a proper fresh McGhees pie.
October - A complete refurbishment of the upstairs lounge, together with a repainting of the interior and exterior of the main bar, has seen a few changes including the maroon colour of the ceiling and structural columns now cream - not all of it quite in character with the old interior design. Another coat of varnish to the bar frieze has meant that the quotations printed on it have just about disappeared.
2017 - Nothing's changed - The pies are still sitting forlorn in the pie oven, the 3 course lunch has not recovered from the demise of the home-made scotch broth and the home-made macaroni cheese.
At least the outside notice board has stopped using the phrase "Famous Horse Shoe Pies"
Late 20th - 21st century - MANAGERS
Started in The Horse Shoe in 1941
Retired in 1981 after 40 years service
John Watson - 1982
Linda Brown - 1983
Mark Smith - Dave Smiths' son - 2003 to 2009
Michael Rogerson - 2009 to present
The well known and very popular David Smith from 1983 to 2003.
On taking over as manager of The Horse Shoe he increased the turnover by eight, won Grouse Manager of the Year, Tennent Caledonians pub of the year award twice, Innkeeper of the Year regional award and Pub of the Year 2001.
David is well known for letting the pop group Travis use the upstairs practice room as well as hiring it out to many Glasgow karaoke singers such as Garry Mullen (Freddie Mercury)