The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum have provided us with some lovely historic images of Stirling shopfronts. Our Trust Manager, Dr Lindsay Lennie, author of ‘Scotland’s Shops’, reveals some hidden details about these buildings.
The Co-operative Society
The Co-operative Society in Stirling was established in 1880. They had a variety of shops around the town serving the local communities and neighbourhoods including in Barnton Street, Friars Street, Upper Craigs and their flagship store in King Street.
The location of this one is not known, but it is a fine, double-fronted shop with clear and simple lettering to the fascia and below a sign that they are ‘licensed for tobacco’.
A notable feature is the decorative detail at the top of the window- this is a ventilator which allows air into the shop. They were often an opportunity to introduce a bit of elaboration to an otherwise plain shopfront.
The smartly dressed grocers stand next to their window displays and above are light fittings or gasoliers.
Munro and Jamieson, 1911
This shop occupied by Munro and Jamieson in Upper Craigs also hosts the Observer office. Stationers, printers and publishers were often found within the same premises.
The applied lettering is notable here, compared to the painted fascia of the Co-operative above. These letters could be a variety of materials including timber, plaster or cast iron. They came in many sizes and fonts allowing the shopkeeper to have an individual sign using mass produced letters.
The shop entrances have elegant panelled storm doors. These doors are ‘shop hung’ so that they fold neatly back into the lobby so as to appear like panelling and so as not to impede the shopper as they enter.
The window displays has coronation stationery for George V suggesting a date of June 1911.
Cullens Butchers, 1935
Cullens Butchers shop at 85 Port Street is a single-fronted shop with applied lettering to the fascia. There is a ventilator at the top of the window with vertical detailing to allow fresh air into the shop.
It has a tiled stallriser (the area below the window) and show a typical detail of a black and white border detail often favoured by butchers. Decorative ceramic tiles were used in fresh food shops from the late 19th century, but tiled frontages were also popular with fishmongers and butchers as they could easily wash down the frontage.
The image was taken during Charity week for Stirling Royal Infirmary and possibly dates to the late 1930s. The display of full or part carcasses was common but is rarely seen in butcher’s shops today.
James Millar & Sons bakery, 1950
This is James Millar & Sons bakery at 45 Upper Craigs, Bakers in the 1950s.
The shop has a prominent corner position and elegant applied lettering to the fascia. The stallrisers (below the windows) are timber panels but have a protective mesh in front of them. Above the entrance is a blind or awning. Traditional blinds operate in the same way as a roller blind; they are pulled out to open the awning and retract in when not required. Storm chains (seen hanging down) help to stop the blind moving if it becomes breezy. Blinds are important where a shopfront faces south in order to protect goods displayed from being affected by strong sun.
The Borestone Café, 1910
The Borestone Café at St Ninians Toll was run by the Frances family. This image dates to 1910.
This large double-fronted shop has highly decorative lettering of the style sometimes seen in fairgrounds. It was a popular style of font in the late 19th century. Lettering has also been positioned in the windows and above the door to advertise products on sale in the shop.
At the back of the windows you can see glazed screens. These were used to mark off the window display areas from the shop itself and create privacy for those inside the shop while still allowing light in.
Keith and Ralston bakery and restaurant, 1911
The bakery and restaurant of Keith and Ralston was located in Port Street.
The shop is highly decorated, probably for the Coronation of George V in 1911. The shopkeepers have gone to considerable effort and even the stallrisers (below the windows) are decorated.
Hay’s Music store
Hay’s Music store was located at 78 Murray Place in the former Congregational Church Hall, before moving to Friars Street in the 1960s. It remained there until the retiral of proprietor Donald Hay in 1996.
The window is very decorative with small leaded panes in the clerestory (the upper section of the window) and a name plate with the word ‘MUSIC’ has been incorporated into the design. This type of design was common in 1930s shopfronts.
The Co-operative at Causewayhead, 1920s
This image shows the interior of the Co-operative at Causewayhead in the 1920s.
During this time, there was increasing availability of packed and tinned goods and grocers like Liptons, Templetons and Galbraiths all competed with each other for business. Dairies such as the Buttercup Dairy Co, Maypole Dairy and Ross’s Dairies (Glasgow) sold new products like margarine.
The shop interior is quite simple with timber boarded walls and narrow timber display shelves. Some shops would have had tiled interiors and this was a favoured interior of Liptons. The large decorative scales indicate that although many goods were pre-packaged, weighing out of products still continued.
You can find out more about Scottish Traditional Shopfronts in this free guide published by Historic Environment Scotland: Short Guide: Scottish Traditional Shopfronts
Or visit the online exhibition ‘Talking Shops’: Scotland’s Historic Shops