The launch of the Trail

The Black Bull was a pub and the hotel that served the community for around 200 years. It closed in 2016. The building was much altered over the years. It was demolished in 2021 and is being replaced by a block of sixteen flats, to be called Killearn Court. The main front of the new building will be similar in design to the original.

It is thought the first building on the site was constructed sometime between 1790 and 1820 as a single-storey building. It was known to be a pub by 1841 and probably from much earlier. A reason for this lies in its name, the Black Bull. This commonly refers to inns used by drovers taking cattle from the Highlands to the trysts (cattle markets) at Falkirk and elsewhere. One route was through Killearn and the name suggests this was formerly a drovers’ inn.

Sometime after 1865, the building was enlarged to two storeys with stabling attached. By the 1890s, a large two-storey extension was added at the southern end of the main building. It was then trading as a hotel, and, with its extension, had seven bedrooms. Its facilities included a billiards room, smoking room, dining room, sitting room, tap room and ‘private parlour’. It was extended again in the 1920s and then further remodelled in the 1950s and the 1970s. After so many alterations, very little of the original building survived nor did it retain significant period details.

Black and white grainy photo of Black Bull Hotel in Killearn with guests and vintage car - 1912
Black Bull Hotel, Killearn, around 1912

Around 1903, the Black Bull was purchased by the Public House Trust of Glasgow. The Trust used its profit to benefit the community, for example, the donation of £100 to the War Memorial fund, the purchase of land behind the building, now the village football pitch and playpark, and support for a range of village activities. In 1972, all the Trust’s lowland hotels were sold to Usher Vaux brewers (of Edinburgh and Sunderland). The hotel then passed through a number of corporate owners and tenants until its closure, after which it was sold for redevelopment. 

Black and white photo of Wedding party outside Black Bull Hotel, Killearn - 1908
Wedding party outside Black Bull Hotel, Killearn in 1908.

An article in the Killearn Courier provides more information on the Black Bull (opens pdf, 4MB).