Monday, 27 July 2015

Shopping in Earlston in an Earlier Era

Take a nostalgic look at Shops in Earlston in the early 20th century.  

The 1901 census for Earlston lists a William Donaldson, aged 37, a butcher at 43 High Street. with his wife Isabella and sons,  John, William and Walter, and daughters Isabella and Helen.   Two years later "Slater's Directory for Berwickshire, 1903" lists  Walter Donaldson as the butcher. 

You can just make out the sign in the stone above the frontage, with the staff in their striped  aprons - and is that a carcase hanging  in the window? 

A similar image.  with the delivery boy and his bicycle. 

Times have moved on to four wheels,

Staff outside the local Co-op Store 

 The~Co-op Travelling Shop that went around farms and more isolated communities.   

In the 1901 census, John P. Weatherly was described as a 40 years old Postmaster of 73 High Street, living with his wife, mother-in-law and  children. Edward, Ellen and Margaret.  The Trade Directory two years later adds to his role that of bookseller, stationer, and printer. 

John Paterson Weatherly (1924-2006)  also ran the village  post office and earned a reputation as local historian,   gathering a wealth of archive  material, which forms  the basis of the collection of the Auld Earlston Group.   

But take a closer look at that newspaper placard outside the shop, which announces that "Crippin Removed to Hospital".

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, was an American doctor  He was hanged  23rd November 1910 in Pentonville Prison, London  for the murder of his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen, and was the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraphy.   

Here is Miller, Drapers, (where the Vets now have their surgery).   Take a close look at the  notice on the wall on the left, and you can make out  the advertisement for "Agent for Pullar's Dye Works, Perth", (presumably a predecessor of Pullar's of Perth, Drycleaners).  In 1881 34 year old John Miller of Thistle House, High Street was a  draper in the village, employing two boys and one woman. 

Occupying the same premises in 1901 was 25 year old draper George McDonald.   Unmarried he was living at 15 Station Road with his father John, a saddler, mother Jane and two brothers David and James who were also saddlers.  George must have been an enterprising lad,  as at the age of 15 in the previous census of 1891,  he was also listed as a draper.   


Slater's Directory of Berwickshire for 1903 notes that the population of Earlston was 1677 (as per 1901 census).  Shops  in the village included:

6 grocers/spirit dealers/ironmongers,  3 butchers, 2 bakers, 5 tailor/drapers/ clothiers, 3 watchmakers/clockmakers/'jewellers, 1 confectioner, 1 chemist,  3 dressmakers/ milliners,  and 1 fishman & earthenware dealer. 

What was striking was  the number of women in business - Miss Jane Douglas, confectioner;  Mrs Margaret Kerr & Mrs Jane Readman grocers;  Miss Margaret Mcdonald, Miss Jane Wood &  Miss Isa Tennant. dressmakers & milliners;  Mrs Agnes Smith,  baby linen,  Mrs Isabella Winchester, draper,  and "in charge of the telephone call office" Miss Isabella Aitchison. 

Thirty years later in 1931 saw listed:  3 grocers/ironmonger, 1 butcher, 1 baker, 3 tailor/clothier/drapers,  1 watchmaker,  3 confectioner, 1 chemist, 3 milliners/dressmaker,  and 2 newsagents.  

Now we are left with 2 convenience stores, a butcher' (Donaldson's), a baker, chemist, flower shop, sweet shop, 3 pubs/hotel, 2 hairdressers, a beauty salon,  a craft shop, an electrical shop, a cafe and a tearoom  a fish & chip shop and a Chinese take-away - how times have changed!  

                                          Earlston High Street at the West End 

 Earlston High Street 

Thank you to everyone
who has  donated or loaned old photographs for scanning.

Auld Earlston welcomes all contributions on the village's past  -
 contact us on or via the comments box below. 

The Crippen story aroused enormous public interest at the time - See more at:


  1. Another selection of superb photos from Auld Earlston Archives showing how our village changed over the past 100 years.

  2. Fascinating to see the buildings we know today in a different guise. The Crippen clue in front of the Weathely shop just adds to the interest.

  3. Interesting to see how shopkeepers were proud to stand outside their business and be photographed, Fergus .

  4. The photo of the Store van reminds me of Bobby Gunter, the Store butcher. Our Store number, S374, is forever etched on my memory, even after more than 40 years.

  5. Lovely to see all these old photos. Jill

  6. This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.
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