CLOSED/Demolished – 2021

125-135 Strand Road,
BT48 7PA

Notes: you can witness the demolition on Streetview in 2021

Everybody knows that it was the wise man who built his house on the rock, so presumably the proprietor of Cole’s Bar on the Strand can claim his share of wisdom, because this was formerly the Rock Bar, on account of its foundation on solid bedrock.

Today this time-honoured pub has the added strength of being close to Magee University and directly opposite the new student accommodation block, so the first evidence of the previously mentioned wisdom was the owner’s decision to call it the College Bar.

There is a strong literary leaning in the downstairs bar, as you find yourself being peered at by the giants of Irish literature: Yeats, O’Casey, Synge, Goldsmith, Beckett, Swift, Shaw, Wilde, Joyce, and several other great Irish writers.

This notion of a cloistered academic place is sustained in the design of the two bars, upstairs and downstairs, with arched, faintly ecclesiastical stained glass windows and rounded doors prominent everywhere, a recessed wooden ceiling with something of the private chapel about it carved wooden columns and ribboning around the canopy, and pictures of the most famous British and Irish colleges adorning the walls.

The elaborately carved wooden showcase downstairs and the faces of both bars have been taken from an old English High Church, while the beautiful mahogany fireplace comes from a stately English home.
Its fluted wooden pillars SW’ing open to reveal the little niches in which the gentry used to heat their brandy.

The wainscotting, paneling, and red velvets speak of a quiet studious retreat. The upstairs bar has an additional entrance from the street, and its patio and parasols in the summer are a delight.

The College has an all-female staff, which somehow seems appropriate for the gently attractive pink and grey colourings. If you fancy a drink with Yeats and company, you’ll find them all down in the College Bar.

It’s a listed building, and safe from change, but then the wise man who built on the rock wouldn’t dream of changing such a lovely bar anyway.