Although not as well known as the best historic pubs of Edinburgh or Glasgow, the Bull has one of Scotland’s finest and most interesting pub interiors. It was rebuilt in 1901 to designs by a local architect, W.D. McLennan (1872–1940) who takes up the modern, inventive architecture we associate with his great contemporary, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The (disused) narrow, right-hand door at the entrance leads to a tiny, intact former off-sales compartment. The front window has stained glass with attractive flowing designs and the interior has a decidedly Art Nouveau flavour.. The panelled public bar has an impressive gantry down the right-hand side housing a series of spirit casks. It also retains four sets of quadruple spirit cocks, a rare survival of draught spirit dispense. Over the counter is the unusual device of six arched service areas. Moving back, there is a glazed partition behind which are three delightful glazed snugs, one still with its door: the glazing to these spaces appears to be a modern replacement (it is quite different and less substantial from that elsewhere in the pub). New toilets have replaced two snugs which used to lead off the top-lit area at the rear and which is characterised by highly individual, attenuated detailing.
Superbly preserved town centre pub, with a great deal of its original Art Nouveau interior intact, which can get very busy at weekends. It retains a spirit cask gantry and five (until recently six) sets of four spirit cocks (the only ones we are aware of in Scotland), which were used originally to dispense the whisky and other spirits from the casks. CAMRA is only aware of four other sets of spirit cocks at Shipman's, Northampton
; Queens Head 'Turners Vault', Stockport, Greater Manchester
; Haunch of Venison, Salisbury, Wiltshire
; and Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- all CAMRA Heritage Pubs.
This four-storey red sandstone ashlar tenement building, complete with a conical-roofed turret, was built in 1901 by W D McLennan. Beyond the stained glass front windows is a dark, panelled public bar with an impressive back gantry running down the right hand side and containing four, large, elongated, upright whisky barrels and four smaller spirit casks. Over the long bar counter are six arched service areas - an unusual device. On the left-hand side is a splendid terrazzo-tiled and wood-surround fireplace with a mirrored overmantlel, and two old fixed seating areas with timber and leaded glass short partitions.
Moving on to the back of the pub, you will find a timber and leaded glass partition; beyond it there are three snugs, one of which still retains its door. The book 'People's Palaces' has a plan showing there were four snugs originally - two on the left and two at the rear. New toilets have replaced the rear snugs, which explains why the ladies' has a ‘3’ on the door and the gents', a '4'. The snug on the right was originally a private room. Each snug has an old fireplace, some have bell-pushes, but the seating has been replaced and the leaded glass windows are modern.