It is a sad fact of life that everywhere you go in the U.K. one High Street is very much like all the others. Gone are the days when local businesses thrived and many of the owners were prominent in local affairs such as the Town and County Councils where their business acumen stood them in good stead. Take Perth for example.
Heading down the High Street, on the left was the Jewellers run by the Proudfoot brothers where I splashed the cash on my wife’s engagement ring over half a century ago. Across the street was Farquharson the tea merchant where my mother got her supplies for our shop in Stanley. Further down was the newsagent J. K. Taylor run by the Parnell family where I would stop to collect my daily paper. One morning when doing so, I accidentally locked myself out of my Austin A35 and had to enlist the services of the local constabulary who had a huge bunch of car keys, one of which did the trick. On the same side was Peter Thomson, Licensed Grocer. Crossing over Kinnoull Street/Scott Street was Covent Garden (fruit and veg) and opposite, the impressive General Post Office building, a popular meeting place now long gone. I believe the rubble when it was demolished now lies under the Craigend interchange. Down from the G.P.O. was Charles Rattray, Tobacconist with the carved figure above the door which I think can still be seen in Perth Museum. I occasionally had to collect parcels of cigarettes for the shop from the warehouse at the rear of the premises and although I have never been a smoker I loved the rich aroma which pervaded the place. There was Strangs the chemist at the corner of Meal Vennel and on the other side was Watson’s China shop which miraculously still survives. Gents’ outfitters Valentines and Dan Taylors supplied my needs and Cairds, a Dundee based firm was where I opened a budget account to purchase a dinner suit when I first embarked on the social scene. The ladies were catered for by Buchanan Dunsmores at the corner of St John’s Street. Frasers of Perth specialised in tweeds and tartans and footwear could be supplied by Norwells. Their advertising gimmick was a picture of Peter Norwell and a sturdy boot with the slogan “The Man behind the Boot”. Some local wag came up with the alternative “The Rogue behind the Boot” - all in good fun we hope.
Heading along St John’s Street it is good to see that Cairncross and McEwans of Perth still survive although the former is no longer owned by the Cairncross family, the brother having passed away some years ago. It was there that you could see the Abernethy Pearl on display. No connection with our village as it was found by pearl fisher Bill Abernethy who was also a handy footballer who played centre forward for Blairgowrie Juniors. Heading up South Street we find that Kennaway the bakers have gone but we still have Murray’s who recently won the award for the best pies. Truly a Perth institution. We must not forget Holgates’ who have been serving fish and chips for as long as I can remember.
No doubt I have overlooked a few but I trust you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane reminding you of how Perth was in my younger days.