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Old 13 February 2019, 01:31   #1
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The Barras - Glasgow

Anyone from Scotland who had an Amiga would have no doubt went to `The Barras` market in Glasgow to buy games.


I`m interested to hear anybodys memories who ventured down there back in the day. I was down last week and couldn`t believe how quiet the place is now, literally nobody about at all. Compare that to the days of the C64/Amiga and the place was jumping. I took a few pics, hopefully linked.



From my own point of view, I started off going down probably around 1988 for C64 games. Usually I`d go to brothers Andy & Frank stall or Mick`s stall, which was directly across from it at the time. This was in the main Barrowland building (where the neon sign is).



Where Andy & Frank and Micks stall was- https://ibb.co/SB7Gv7v



On occasion I`d go to Skadies stall (I think thats how you pronounce his name. I`m sure his real name was Jason and used to work with a guy Eddie). He had a couple of C64`s and an action replay cartridge.



Roughly where Skadies stall was- https://ibb.co/jMYyvG9



I got my Amiga A500 in 1989 and continued going to Andy & Franks stall as they catered for Amiga too. I think Mick had moved location by this point but was also doing Amiga. In all honesty I always thought Andy & Frank were more friendly than Mick. Not sure if they all got on given they had stalls directlly opposite each other and competeting for the same buisness. Although back then there was plenty to go around. There would be crowds of people waiting to get in at the front of the stall to flick through the games in the briefcases.



I then discovered Joe`s stall and started going there. The first stall I remember of his was in a building directly across from Pearsons. You sort of went down a slope into the building and took a sharp right. Joe`s stall seemed to have more clued-up guys than Andy & Franks. People I think went to Andy & Franks and bought the games and left. Whereas at Joe`s you would get chatting to more knowledgable guys like Bob, who worked for Joe (the PC man) for hours. Joe had a different setup to the likes of Andy & Frank, as well as having games in boxes for you to flick through he had `Azzy` in the back working x-copy for any other orders.


Joe`s stall moved to a market off the lane here - https://ibb.co/0FYkxp1


There was various other guys selling Amiga "warez" down there. Guys like Alex (A guy with oriental looking features, although wasn`t. I think he came from East Kilbride), another guy Stuart ( came across as very camp ), his prices were £1 cheaper than the rest. All these guys were based in the building where Roger Price was.



I used to buy the cheapest and nastiest 3.5 blank discs from Rodger Price. Unbranded and most didn`t work. I soon realised this was a false economy and other stalls like Joe`s started selling reliable discs for slighlty more.


Would be interested in hearing if anyone knew any of the guys mentioned and if they are still alive or what they are up to now.


On that note I was on a Cisco course with a guy about 10 years ago who used to work for Stuart and he told me Mick was a property developer in the West End of Glasgow.
 
Old 13 February 2019, 12:53   #2
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Hi! I'm only living in Glasgow for a bit over 5 years at this stage, but from the various other Amiga users and fans I meet in Glasgow I regularly hear stories of the Barras, with the sound of X-Copy running all day, every day. Seems to have been a popular spot for Amiga games I don't know any of the names, but I'm sure they'll be familiar to the old regulars!
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Old 13 February 2019, 20:00   #3
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My memories of the Barras are a little bit after the Amiga era, somewhere between 1998 and 2003. There was a guy who ran a stall there that chipped PS1 and PS2 consoles and I took my consoles there to be modded. I cant remember who he was however.

But I remember there was an alley where there were guys standing around with folders, and in the folders were lists of pc software. You'd pick items off the list and then a runner would go off somewhere to get the cd's and bring them back.

I remember buying a cd full of software like Monkey Island 3 and Rogue Squadron, and there were three or four guys standing in the alley with their folders hawking their wares, when suddenly this police van pulled up across one end of the alley. Four PC's stepped out and just started slowly walking up the alley. I was killing myself laughing watching the sellers just melt out of the alley, going down side alleys or around stalls.

Living in West Lothian, I got all of my software at Ingliston Market, next to Edinburgh Airport. There was a guy that run a stall there, with an A2000 sitting under the stall just churning out copied disks. You'd go to this little space between the rear of his stall and another stall that was tarpaulined off, maybe wide enough for two people. You'd stand in line and then get handed a folder and you'd check off the games that you wanted and he'd duplicate them there and then.

That was maybe somewhere between 1991 and 1993. I lost count of the time he got busted and his stuff got confiscated, but he was always up and running a month or two later.
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Old 14 February 2019, 01:17   #4
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Originally Posted by mfletcher View Post
My memories of the Barras are a little bit after the Amiga era, somewhere between 1998 and 2003. There was a guy who ran a stall there that chipped PS1 and PS2 consoles and I took my consoles there to be modded. I cant remember who he was however.

But I remember there was an alley where there were guys standing around with folders, and in the folders were lists of pc software. You'd pick items off the list and then a runner would go off somewhere to get the cd's and bring them back.

I remember buying a cd full of software like Monkey Island 3 and Rogue Squadron, and there were three or four guys standing in the alley with their folders hawking their wares, when suddenly this police van pulled up across one end of the alley. Four PC's stepped out and just started slowly walking up the alley. I was killing myself laughing watching the sellers just melt out of the alley, going down side alleys or around stalls.
Most of all the old Amiga / Atari ST guys had gone by this point. I imagine this would have been Ian Sweeney. Late 90`s, early 00`s he was the main man down there, doing console chipping, games and DVD`s.


https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/s...-kings-1056539


Actually a nice guy I think his mum might have been involved in the Barras management (might be wrong).


At this point there were others guys from Easterhouse I think (Big Sammy) who used to work in the lane outside Pearsons, selling the same.


The police actually had a mobile surveillance unit positioned in the lane at Pearsons. This consisted of a van, with a large lamp post style pole coming out the roof and had a camera attached. It didn`t stop the guys as they were still there every week.


The only time I ever seen the guys disappear was when there was a raid and the police appeared in numbers. Again they`d be back the following week so made no difference really.


Here`s a BBC documentary from 1996 about stolen SIMs. The Joe and Bob I mention appear @ 18:10 buying the sims



https://www.dropbox.com/s/rni93lejho...96%29.mp4?dl=0



I`m sure there was another documentary about software piracy in the early 90`s featuring the Barras and presented Dominic Diamond of Gamesmaster fame.
 
Old 15 February 2019, 10:07   #5
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Barras

I regularly made trips from Helensburgh through to the Barras Saturday or Sundays. I owned an A500 in 1990 and the Barras was my Mecca. I remember going upstairs to some tables with polly pockets listing all the games, nothing was on show, radios were used and small urchin kids as couriers would appear with a carrier bag of your ordered swag.
512MB memory upgrades and external drives, blank discs etc, everything was on sale here at a good price. I remember standing at a table awaiting my order when two pair of shiney black shoes caught my eye, stood right beside me were constables no less. There was no panic, no scramble for exits as they were buying for themselves, no word of a lie!
In its day The Barras reminded me of Bartertown in Mad Max, with a strong whiff of burgers and healthy flow of cash, I found it impossible to come home empty handed from there. Powertools, handtools, car parts, Amiga , PC,
Music, not much couldn`t be bought or sold. Just glad I was there and even saw Deacon Blue play there, great times!
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Old 15 February 2019, 10:34   #6
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I remember the Barras well, I have a good friend who lives up in the East End and we'd go down there on a weekend. I was quite young at the time so my memories are a bit hazy but it was a very vibrant place! I still visit Glasgow 2 or 3 times a year (I live right on the South Coast of England in West Sussex so it's not around the corner) and find myself wandering the Barras from time to time, it can be eerily quiet at times as the OP noted these days.

I now want to get back up to Glasgow Absolutely love it up there!
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Old 17 February 2019, 01:46   #7
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Originally Posted by RunsilenT View Post
I remember standing at a table awaiting my order when two pair of shiney black shoes caught my eye, stood right beside me were constables no less. There was no panic, no scramble for exits as they were buying for themselves, no word of a lie!
In its day!

Witnessed this many a time, some PC`s in uniform buying copied games
 
Old 17 February 2019, 01:56   #8
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I remember the Barras well, I have a good friend who lives up in the East End and we'd go down there on a weekend. I was quite young at the time so my memories are a bit hazy but it was a very vibrant place! I still visit Glasgow 2 or 3 times a year (I live right on the South Coast of England in West Sussex so it's not around the corner) and find myself wandering the Barras from time to time, it can be eerily quiet at times as the OP noted these days.

I now want to get back up to Glasgow Absolutely love it up there!

I hadn`t been down in years and to see it like a ghost town with hardly any stalls or people about was actually quite sad.


It looks like they have tried to gentrify the area with the aim of reviving it`s fortunes with the like of



BAAD - https://baadglasgow.com/ and also St Lukes


It`s a wierd mix as you have the West End types in BAAD and then the few people you see out around the stalls look as though they are straight off a methadone programme.


I really can`t see how it can remain open. I imagine Blochairn car boot sale will have taken away a lot of the customers too.
 
Old 02 March 2019, 23:04   #9
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wow thanks for posting this , I remember buying games from the 1st stall they had everything then. And also the guys selling PS2 copies they must've made a serious amount of cash
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Old 26 April 2020, 07:29   #10
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Thanks for posting this video, i used to goto the barras every weekend i had enough pocket money and could persuade my parents to drive through or until i could go in the bus.

I used to go in the left of the main doors, up the stairs on the left and then to the right there was Alex and wee Shuggie or Dougie and they would sort you out with Amiga and eventually PC disks, the CDs and DVDs. Those guys are national heroes. Only once did i have a bad disk and they replaced it no questions asked. Another time in PC era they told me how to use pkunzip for a multivolume extract and it was case closed.

After the Amiga days Alex built my dad his first PC i used it all the time to play games.

I was 1 quid a disk. So, you'd pick your game from the catalogs and it would be like 1-2 disks and they would send a runner off and bring you back your game. The money would land in a suitcase and if there was a "RAID" which happened once, the suitcases would shut and the runners would take them away. Business would resume as normal except no cash exchanges until the cops left and it always resumed in a matter of minutes. Eventually it became so lax the cops would just turn up and buy software too.

Never once thought something was illegal with copying software until many years later. The only thing dodgy was those freaky Gouranga heads that would occasionally walk about. They are like the 90s equivalent of "meth-heads".
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Old 26 April 2020, 14:44   #11
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A leaflet from one of the Barras guys here :

https://gotpapers.scene.org/?p=2538

And some details on the Barras piracy days mentioned in this interview on Codetapper's site :

https://codetapper.com/atari-st/st-interviews/zippy/
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Old 27 April 2020, 11:53   #12
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Hi Cynix, what a read, i started that well too late last night, didnt finish until 2:50am... read it on my phone, after looking at the website it shouldnt have taken half as long on the computer.

Loved the all caps hand written message from the barras. If it was 1992-1993 it must have still went on a good bit after that.. surely that was more of a "terms and conditions" like disclaimer to the activities found within.

Amazing insights into the cracking scene, i had no idea how it was done back in the day, I was just a kid then. Are you the same Cynix ?
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Old 27 April 2020, 14:13   #13
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^^ Yeah there was still major piracy going on at the Barras until the late 90's. It wasn't until then that a combination of the authorities finally clamping down on it + the availability of free pirate software for all on the internet that really started the final decline.

A lot of the Cynix PO box letters are also online at :

https://gotpapers.scene.org/?p=3421

with some mentions of the Barras there too.

Kinda funny the ones saying "You should see the piracy at the Barras in Glasgow" , when they didn't know the guys they were writing to were in Glasgow + Edinburgh, cause the PO BOX address was in England and was run by some of our original suppliers down there.

And yeah, I am that guy.
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Old 27 April 2020, 15:02   #14
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Oh and for some real nostalgia, you can get "Barrowland" t-shirts and hoodies now :

https://www.barrowlandmerchandise.com/

they're not exactly cheap but I got the blue hoodie and have to say it's really good quality.
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Old 27 April 2020, 16:10   #15
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Awesome, thanks for your work man.

It would be amazing if you where to stream how to crack an ST title and stick that on youtube. For educational/historical purposes. Find someone with a david attenbrough like voice and document that.

I was too young to understand how copy protection worked, even xcopy i thought if it made a bad noise then it was cursed. This tech has became so antiquated now its someones duty to document early copy protection cracking. Im sure some folk would be intrested.

The only reason im saying this was my mate sent me this vid tonight and said...

[ Show youtube player ]

"Check out this video its like when we used to play commandos vs the japs at school, everyone had to do the mad W.E.D diving when they got shot, thats what we tell the kids we did before FPS's and they think we are mad."
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Old 27 April 2020, 16:15   #16
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The Cindy Crawford Appreciation society. Brillant.
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Old 05 May 2020, 00:17   #17
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Brilliant reading all this!

My town was not quite as exicting but still had its moments.

Mate of mine, ran a second-hand game shop directly under a full priced established game shop. A place that had the first Amiga and Atari ST in etc, all full priced in your face everything was about money and quality and downstairs you had this dodgy smelly bunch selling old used stuff lol.

We would call it the dungeon, mold pit etc lol, was full of second hand games, rows upon rows of them! Atari ST, Amiga, all the 8bits you name it. Had a right musty smell what with being downstairs out the way.

But the main interest, the owner was a full on pirate! He began on the ST and had thousands of menu disks, would get latest releases within hours of release sometimes even quicker. He slowly migrated over to the Amiga.

If anyone remembers, he was known as "Lofty", "THFC" and the purile "Spunker".

I never forgot getting an ST new, not being aware of the cracking scene and he came along, instantly had access to all these menu disks. Then a mate got an A500 and well the rest is history.
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Old 05 May 2020, 01:54   #18
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Agree, thanks for sharing these stories, I never came across anything like that here in Norway... Only modems, snail mail and friends copy parties to get the new releases
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Old 10 August 2020, 14:32   #19
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I moved to Glasgow around 2000/2001. I loved the Barras, it was so busy, it's totally dead now, no idea what happened, or the reason for its demise. Shame, it's a really interesting place to go for all sorts of random stuff. Would love to see some photos of it back in the day.
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Old 10 August 2020, 17:31   #20
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I also remember it well and used to head there most weekends to see what the new releases were. I've no idea what happened to any of those dodgy characters.

I'd get most of my disks from stalls in what I think was called the Upstairs Market. Early on I was getting ST disks from a lanky guy called Joe. He would stamp the disks with a smiley face as a sort of trademark (maybe not a smart move). I'd regularly return with disks that didn't work and he'd be happy to replace them.

Joe also seemed to have access to early versions of games. I remember getting a version of Xenon before any magazines had previewed it that was called Kelly-X. All the title graphics were perfect, so I presume it was only branded Xenon by the Bitmaps right at the end of development.

I also remember Stuart the "camp" guy mentioned. He was really helpful and enthusiastic about the new releases.

By the time I had an Amiga there was a separate stall dedicated to PD and demo scene releases which got most of my attention once I was more into coding than games.

Apparently the Barras was the number one software piracy spot in Europe at the time, but the scale of it was lost on me.

I'm pretty sure you can lay much of the blame for the Amiga's demise as a games machine on markets like these. But at the same time I can't help but feel grateful, I had no other way to access the software that would develop my interest and eventually lead to a career.

Also, I was only mugged at knife point once in my many visits which seems like incredibly good luck!
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