Shopfronts in St Andrews

Friday 19 March 2021

Over the last year, fourth-year International Relations and Arabic student Natalie Pereira, has enjoyed looking online at the photographic collections held by the University Libraries and Museums. In this blog Natalie shares images of St Andrews shopfronts from the 1960s and 1970s.  

The photographic archive is not for today or even tomorrow. Simply put, an archive is for a much later time than when it was collated or created; it forms part of our historic memory which leads up to today. It is hard to imagine the following images of shopfronts in the 1960’s and 1970’s as a remnant of St Andrews as we have come to know it. After all, now more than 50 years later, the stores have changed, and then changed again; the town is more congested (in non-lockdown days and pre-Covid times!); and even whole walls and buildings have been demolished and rebuilt. Somehow though St Andrews still remains St Andrews, and its quaint historic character – though most noticeable in the renowned Cathedral and University buildings – permeates the new shopfronts. Even common high street stores dotted along Market Street seem to reference some of the town’s heritage. The following images represent St Andrews shopfronts in one moment in time:

C. B. Macfarlane’s Wines and Spirits shop window on Market Street, St Andrews (1978). Classic lime and red cars are parked outside on the pavement. Photographs of this shop date as far back as 1937 in Special Collections. A quick Google search produces little results on what happened to this shop or who owned it – like most archival photos, it takes a deeper curiosity and thorough investigation to find out the who, what, why, where and when.

Remedial work being carried out on 67-69 South Street, St Andrews (1973). The repairs were under the oversight of William M Jack (1921-1999), a Fife architect and historic buildings advisor and restorer. This is now home to St John’s House, a University building designated for the School of History. There is an account of an archaeological excavation of the building in 1990 here.

Looking onto Church Street towards “the music shop” (1967), next to the well-loved bakery, Fisher & Donaldson, famous for their fudge doughnuts!

Across from the front of the Byre Theatre, part of Abbey Street (at the corner of 24 South Street) is demolished by bulldozers and lorries work to gather the rubble (1970).

Even the exterior of the old Byre Theatre (pictured 1972) is significantly distinct from its modern design. Once an unassuming building with a white fascia, the building is now an impressive and aesthetically pleasing structure.

The old Post Office on South Street (pictured on a wintery night in 1973), now the Adamson, named in tribute to Dr John Adamson who used to live in the house in the late 19th century.

At a distance in this photo taken from outside Bonkers, Cross Keys Bar lies on Market Street (1973). It is now known as the Keys Bar, after being bought in 1979 by the current owner, Claire Nicoll’s parents.

One of the most remarkable things about shop fronts in St Andrews is that they can extend along large portions of building façades (as Reg. Burns Gents’ Hairdresser is pictured in 1970) or alternatively, fit into small spaces and close quarters of the streets (as seen by the “service centre,” a washing and repair store, pictured in 1969).

A rooftop view of Market Street in 1968, taken from the top of Buchanan building. The fountain marks the site of the old Tollbooth. A few cars are scattered across the shopfronts, and there are fewer people walking around. In some sense, the picture evokes the isolation, or quietness rather, that social restrictions have caused throughout 2020 and 2021. Before the coronavirus pandemic, St Andrews was rarely unmoving. But like the scenes of this photograph, the stillness that we find ourselves in now is fleeting, and it is only a matter of time before the shopfronts in the “bubble” change, and then change again.

Natalie Pereira 

All images shown here come from the Andrew G Cowie St Andrews Photographic Collection and William M Jack Fife Architectural Collection, you are welcome to explore the collections further through the online catalogue.

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5 thoughts on "Shopfronts in St Andrews"

  • Julia Melvin
    Julia Melvin
    Friday 19 March 2021, 4.48pm

    Thank you Natalie for this percipient selection of shop fronts from 50 years ago. Perhaps the most striking St Andrews shop front of my childhood of the 40's and 50's was the butcher in Church Street. As I recollect it was festooned with game in the season, and above was proudly displayed: Flesher and Licensed Dealer in Game. Plenty in that to tease the questioning child: 'flesher', an old Lallands word, I presume; and 'Licensed in Game'. What on earth could that mean?

    • skr23
      Monday 22 March 2021, 9.34am
      • Julia Melvin
        Julia Melvin
        Wednesday 31 March 2021, 2.21pm

        No, I'm sorry to say it was not David Iven - or was that Niven? I seem to remember that the butcher may have been called Martin, a common enough surname in Fife, but I can't be sure. What also added to my childish confusion was that there was another shop in St Andrews called Fletchers, rather than the 'fleshers' that amused me. It was a big double fronted shop on the same side as the Citizen's Office. It was such a good butcher that my grandmother, by that time living in Mayfair (!) used to put in a meat order with him every week, and it came on the train to King's Cross! I think the butchers you illustrate was on the opposite side of the road.

  • Stephen Hotchkis.
    Stephen Hotchkis.
    Friday 19 March 2021, 5.36pm

    I think the captions for the third and fourth pictures are wrong. Graham Renton Carpets moved into a shop in South St not the Music Shop in Church St. The demolition work is being carried out is in Abbey St as part of the work to widen the road. The whole east side of the street came down.

    • skr23
      Monday 22 March 2021, 10.24am

      Thanks for getting in touch. You are quite right about the music shop and Abbey Street. We have made the necessary changes to the text.


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