Seven Glasgow street characters locals have loved from Harry the Hat to Hairy Mary

Glasgow is well known for its sense of humour, and the city streets are no different.

The colorful characters are a staple, and you’d struggle to make your way through the center of town without bumping into at least one of them. These eccentric folks have been putting smiles on faces for years, and we thought they deserved a shoutout.

Some of the city’s most memorable characters are no longer with us, while others are still entertaining locals to this day. Take a look and see which ones you’re familiar with.

READ MORE – Glasgow locals asked to create mural recalling famous sayings of legendary Barras traders

Harry the Hat

An instantly recognizable character at the Barras for many years, Harry the Hat was known mostly for selling nameplates. In later years, he had a small pitch outside Queen Street Station where he sold signs and socks.



Harry McLarnon, otherwise known as Harry the Hat, celebrated his 90th birthday last year (Image: UGC MSR)

Speaking in the Glasgow Back In Time Facebook group, Johny Live commented: “Harry used to sell all sorts of stuff in the Barras, way back in the early 70s.

“He had the gift of the gab and always attracted large crowds because of his hilarious patter.”

Techno Tin Bin Man



The Techno Tin Bin Man returned with a new act in 2019 (Image: Scott Reid)
The Techno Tin Bin Man returned with a new act in 2019 (Image: Scott Reid)

A much-loved Glaswegian icon known as the Techno Bin Man, he’s been a familiar face on Argyle Street for many years – playing the ‘drums’ on his upside down bins.

In recent years, he’s had an upgrade with some electronic dancing animals in front of him. Purrfect. While many thought the person in the cat costume was him, it was later revealed to be someone completely different – while the Techno Tin Bin Man sat back and watched his act.

Leo the Silent Raver



Leo the Silent Raver is a familiar face on the streets of Glasgow (Image: Daily Record)
Leo the Silent Raver is a familiar face on the streets of Glasgow (Image: Daily Record)

Usually spotted outside the St Enoch Centre, Leo loves to bust a move and get the public smiling.

Over the pandemic, the much-loved Glasgow character was confined to his care home – before a friend launched a campaign to bring him back to the streets, and back to doing what he loves. Glaswegians were thrilled when he made a return to the streets, with one Twitter user even commenting: “Nature is healing.”

More Glasgow nostalgia stories

Robert the Robot



Robert the Robot in his heyday (Image: Norman McNamee)
Robert the Robot in his heyday (Image: Norman McNamee)

Once upon a time, the streets of the city were ruled by a white masked cyborg mime artist – that was known for peeking into shopping bags and scaring the living daylights out of Glasgow weans.

Dressed in a white boiler suit, with a motherboard attached to his belly and phone wires going across his body – Robert was a familiar face on a trip into town. He even made it onto an episode of Rab C Nesbitt.

Speaking to Glasgow Live in 2020, Robert Harris – the man behind the mask, told us: “I started one Friday afternoon in December of 1983, performing as Robert the Robot in Argyle Street and I can remember my first day like it was yesterday.

“It changed my life and made me the entertainer I am today. I was so nervous as I had only ever watched the body poppers and break dancers perform when I walked through town on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t realize how difficult it was to make the public part with any small change they may have.”

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Hairy Mary

Known for singing her way round Glasgow, she was lovingly nicknamed Hairy Mary by locals – and will be remembered for her many fur coats.

According to local memories, she had many songs in her repertoire in which she referred to herself as Hairy Mary.

Speaking in the Glasgow Back In Time Facebook group, Yvonne Dolan recalled: “Hairy Mary, used to sing round the back courts.”

Snake Oil Man



You couldn't miss the Snake Oil Man on a trip to the Barras (Image: Daily Record)
You couldn’t miss the Snake Oil Man on a trip to the Barras (Image: Daily Record)

One of several memorable sellers at the Barras, the Snake Oil Man was known for selling (you guessed it) snake oil which he claimed could cure anything and everything.

Discussing Glasgow’s legendary characters, Jimmy Nairn told us: “The Snake Oil Man at the Barras in the 50s. He always pulled a big crowd.

“My dad loved his patter.”

Ian the Cat Guy



Ian the Cat Guy was often seen speeding past with a feline friend on his back (Image: Robert Blomfield)
Ian the Cat Guy was often seen speeding past with a feline friend on his back (Image: Robert Blomfield)

Also typically seen at the Barras, Ian was known for having a cat on his shoulder at all times – even while riding his bike.

Valerie Redmond recalled: “He used to cut about on a bike with a cat perched on his shoulder. A pure gentleman.

“Christ, the first time I saw him was at the Barras, he came fleein around the corner with a kitten swinging from his shoulder clinging on like it’s life depended on it, and told me it had learned to balance.”

Robert Martin had similar memories, telling us: “We called him Cat-weasel, he used to collect aluminum cans, I assume to trade in for cash.”

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