'The Store'

(The Co-op)




Danny Callaghan
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

My Dad

-  Stockbridge

-  Benefits

-  Janitor

-  Retirement

My Uncle

-  Milkman



Elizabeth Livingston
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Mick the Milkman


Danny Callaghan
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Mobile Shop

Edinburgh Evening News


David Bain
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England

St Cuthbert's Fleshing Dept Van


Stuart Wilson
Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland

St Cuthbert's Milk Deliveries

-  Milk Boy

-  Jimmy Quinn

-  Our Route

-  Milk Horses

-  The Customers

-  The Newsagent

-  The Milk Carts

-  Bottles and Crates

-  Milk Tokens

-  Price Changes

-  Reaching Murdoch Terrace

-  The Weather

-  Broken Bottles

-  Breakage Allowance

-  Saturdays

-  Christmas and New Year


Ian Smith
Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Leith Provident Coop

-  Henderson Gardens

-  Message Bike

-  A Rammy

-  Other Work


Ian Smith
Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Leith Provident Coop





Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan who wrote:

"Having seen little mention of The Store on your site, I thought I would pass on these reminiscence before I get too old."

My Dad


"My father Danny Callaghan must have been one of the longest serving employees of The Store.  He started as a Cart Boy delivering groceries when he was 14 in 1922, working out of Hamilton Place Stockbridge.   He then moved to being a Cart Boy for the Bakery which I think at that time was also in Stockbridge.

From being a Cart Boy, he moved into the bakery and worked for years in the despatch dept making up orders."


"In those days, pension schemes were unheard of and The Store was one of the first companies to start one.

 Also, in those days, you only got the 2 weeks holiday.  Then, The Store introduced a winter week for employees with 30 years service. (How things have changed.  I remember my dad counting down the years till he would get his winter week."


"Due to the toll that the heavy work in the bakery despatch dept was taking on my dad's health, he got a transfer to janitor of 92 Fountainbridge, the Head Office, about 1961.    I suppose he would be what is now called a Facilities Manager.    This meant that at least he mainly worked day shift although he had to be there for evening meetings.


"He remained there till his retirement at 65 in 1973.  However, he did not retire and continued on, part-time as janitor at 92, although to me he seemed to be doing the same job for less money.   He carried on there until he was about 75 in 1983 when he finally handed in the keys to 92.

So over 61 years (including war service) with one employer must be a bit of a record."

St Cuthbert's Co-operative Association Ltd  -  Retirement Scroll, 1973 ©

Here is a copy of the scroll that was presented to Danny on his retirement.  I cannot remember if he also got any sort of gift.

My Uncle


"My dad's brother, Mike Callaghan also started as a Cart Boy and went on to be a Store milkman with Saughton area as his patch. 

He loved his horses.  One day, his horse and cart ran away and in the effort to stop the horse running into the Water of Leith he grabbed the reins and fell and the cart went right up his side.

I remember him being in hospital for a considerable time and he was never able to go back to his milk round. 

One of my Uncle Mike's milk laddies was Tom Connery.  My uncle signed off his first time sheet."


"The Store played a big part in Edinburgh life and my first wife and her father and mother also worked for The Store but I failed their entry exam for their office."

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  October 20, 2009 + May 26, 2010




Elizabeth Livingston

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Elizabeth Livingston wrote:

Mick the Milkman

"I remember Mick the milkman (See Recollections 1 above.)  He came around the Whitson areaSo he was Danny's uncle.  We all liked him very much.  He was a jolly fellow"

Elizabeth Livingston, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:  October 25, 2009




Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan for sending me a newspaper cutting with a photo of the sort of grocery cart that his Dad might have remembered from when he  started his working life as a cart laddie with The Store (St Cuthbert's Co-op) in 1922.  (See 'Recollections 1' above.)

St Cuthbert's Grocery Cart, around 1911 ©

Danny added:

Mobile Shop

"This picture looks like a mobile shop of the period. 

The assistant is leaning out of the sliding window to serve the wifie."

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  February 13, 2011

Edinburgh Evening News

This photo appeared in the ''Post Bag' column of the Evening News.  This column featured old photos sent in by readers.  I don't know the date of the newspaper that published this photo, but the photo is captioned:

'A Co-op. cart  of around 1911'l

The letter beside the photo in the paper was sent from Wardie Road, Edinburgh.  It reads:

"Do any of your readers regret the demise of the old cart horse, once a common site in our capital city?

Apart from the  excitement of hanging on to the back of the cart, it was a treat to be allowed to hold the reins while the horse slaked its thirst at a street trough.

Has anyone else happy memories of better times?"



David Bain

Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England

Thank you to David Bain for sending me another photo of a St Cuthbert's coop horse-drawn van.

David wrote:

St Cuthbert's Fleshing Dept Van

"A recent post reminded me I had this photograph:

St Cuthbert's Flesher's Dept horse-drawn van at Gilmerton ©

 It shows the store Fleshing Dept van outside 'The Tofts' in Gilmerton. This is near the junction where Gilmerton Dykes Street, Gilmerton Dykes Road and New Street meet.

I've no idea when this photo was taken.  All I would guess would be pre-WW2.  There's nothing written on the original photo.

By their look, the butchers may be brothers.  Are they members of the Hush family?  The photo came from my brother-in-law, who is a Hush."

David Bain, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England:  February 16, 2011




Stuart Wilson

Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Stuart Wilson who lived at Grove Street, Fountainbridge from 1948 until 1963 wrote:

St Cuthbert's Milk Deliveries

Milk Boy

"Amongst my many happy memories of my childhood there was my time as a milk boy with St Cuthbert’s Dairy."

Jimmy Quinn

"Jimmy Quinn was my milkman and he was about 30 years old. He was a friendly chap but he had had a problem in the past with his front teeth. They were missing and I never really found out in what circumstances he lost the teeth. I guess there was a fight in some pub and he had not gotten around to sorting them. Anyway they gave him a rather curious grin and I liked him for it.  I was his 14 year old milk boy and I worked for him for two or three years about 1960."

Our Route

"Our route in Edinburgh was Fountainbridge, Dundee Street heading out to Yeaman Place and Watson Crescent.  I worked for about one hour in the morning on schooldays, but, of course, on Saturday I worked longer hours because I had no school that day."

Milk Horses

"In these days we had a horse to pull the milk cart and the stables were in Grove Street where I lived.  The dairy was one block away in Gardiner's Crescent.  Jimmy and all the other men would have to come along for their horses at half past five in the morning.

 I was expected to meet Jimmy where Grove Street meets Fountainbridge at about a quarter to seven.  Often I would sleep in and Jimmy would rush along Grove Street, knock on my door and then run away knowing that I would get up and follow along the street."

The Customers

"I got to know the customers well.  This was at the time when Sean Connery had just begun his career as a movie-star.   His parents lived in Dundee Street and and I remember taking their milk to the door knowing full well that they would not be staying there much longer now their son had made such a success.

 The tenement flats that Sean Connery's parents and our customers lived in were dark closes, three or four stories high. Often the lighting in the stair was poor or non-existent and you had to grope your way up and down using your memory to guide you."

The Newsagent

"At about half past seven we reached a newsagent shop in Dundee Street where Jimmy was treated to a cup of tea. I carried on delivering milk. Jimmy would only stop for about five-minutes, drink his tea and have a cigarette."

The Milk Carts

"The horses knew the route to go - there was no need to jump up on the cart or take hold of the reins and guide the horse to the next stopping place. All that was required was to release the brake, tell the horse to gee-up and off he would go.

The brake was a wheeled affair, set quite high up on the milk cart but I could reach it, just.  There wasn't much problem with traffic up and down the street, which was just as well because we zig-zagged our way along Fountainbridge and Dundee Street, the horse going from left to right as it went. There was no problem finding a parking space either!"

Bottles and Crates

"The procedure for delivering milk was that I would load a milk crate with whatever number of bottles of milk were required for that stair. A milk crate had a large handle on it and it held 12 bottles maximum in two rows of six. There would be a mixture of pints and half pints with the occasional special milk."

Milk Tokens

I would rush up the stair - we never walked anywhere - deposit the milk at the door of each flat and pick-up the tokens that they left out for us. I had to find these tokens in the dark stair and leave the appropriate number of pints or half pints of milk.

On most days the number of tokens was the same.  I always knew that two pints went to Mrs Jones and a pint and a half to Mrs Williams and that the old lady on the ground floor only got 1/2 pint.

Occasionally we were surprised by finding no tokens and just empty bottles lying at the door.  Sometimes in the dark, I did not find the tokens and would have to knock on the door.  Wakening up your customers was not a nice thing to do but they were usually very friendly to me and did not seem to mind."

Price Changes

"The tokens were in two colours - there were red ones and black ones and these were used to increase and reduce the price of the milk. It seems odd looking back on that now but the price of milk did come down in the summer by a half pence a pint or sometimes a penny a pint.

The Co-op would sell these tokens in their shops and customers would buy a whole week or two weeks' worth of tokens.  So, each time there was a price change so there would be a colour change. Not every customer was aware of this and they would leave out red tokens when they should have left out a black token.

This meant that I had to knock on their door at an early hour and request the extra money. Of course once they knew that the prices had gone up they put out either the appropriate colour token or would add 1/2 p or a penny to the token."

I well remember one case where the price of the milk had come down by a penny - a larger amount - and this lady who had two daughters but no man in the house was still putting out the higher valued black tokens. She must have got quite a supply of them because after two or three weeks she discovered that she had been overpaying for milk all the time.

I suppose it was my fault - I should have knocked on the lady's door and told her that milk had come down in price but I hadn't. She was amazingly angry at Jimmy and me for not telling her of this and I was surprised even then at how such a small amount of money could upset her so much.

I know now that she was desperately poor and paying over a shilling a week extra was a real problem for her."

Reaching Murdoch Terrace

"Jimmy had planned for us to reach the end of Murdoch Terrace before he would let me go off to school. My reward for completing Murdoch Terrace was two cigarettes. He knew that this would put me behind in my attempts to get the school.  

He suspected, and he was right, that two cigarettes was a sufficient bribe to persuade me to stay on a little longer and run to school, rather than walk.

Over the weeks and months, however, Jimmy became more and more ambitious and we became faster and faster at doing the deliveries. He began to realise that we were completing Murdoch Terrace earlier and earlier and I was getting two cigarettes without really a problem.

He then extended the area that we would deliver to further and further along Dundee Street. This led to some difficulties between me and Jimmy because I wanted my two cigarettes and off to school and he wanted me to deliver more of the round.

Eventually I had to complain to Jimmy's boss about the difficulties I was having in getting off to school. I never mentioned the cigarettes that I was getting as a bribe.  Anyway Jimmy was a bit upset.  He felt I had been disloyal, but at least from there on I got off to school at the right time and Jimmy did continue to give me the cigarettes."

The Weather

"I well remember delivering milk in a really awful weather conditions.  There was one day when the snow was six inches deep and the snow lay thick and clean and untouched.

I slipped carrying a couple bottles of milk and went my length in the snow. I wasn't hurt and I tried my best not to break the milk bottles as I went down by just sliding them into the snow so that did not strike the cobbles underneath.

Once I had picked my self up and dusted off the snow from me, I tried to find the milk bottles. The street was on a slope and the angle which I'd dropped the milk bottles projected them forward under the snow. They had slid under the surface a long way. I searched, Jimmy searched, and we just could not find them and had to give up.

The next day the weather had improved slightly and the snow had gone into slush. I tried again to find these two bottles of milk and sure enough there they were lying in the gutter nestling one against the other. So I cleaned the bottles and delivered them knowing that they had been in a nice cold fridge overnight and they were still fresh!   Jimmy was pleased."

Broken Bottles

"The union had negotiated an agreement with St Cuthbert's Co-operative Society which allowed for breakages of milk bottles. The deal was that the men would be credited with 2 pints of milk in cash, provided they came back with evidence of the broken glass.

This was one of the reasons why Jimmy was so annoyed at losing these two bottles of milk in this snow because he had no evidence to bring back to prove that he had lost the milk bottles. Of course, Jimmy and I tried our best not to break any milk bottles."

Breakage Allowance

"What he did the end of each round was take two empty milk bottles and add to them a very slight quantity of milk which he took out of a full bottle of milk. The milk top on the full bottle of milk would be carefully removed and a very small quantity of milk poured into the empty bottle. The milk top would be replaced to make it impossible for anyone to notice that he had tampered with it.

The small quantity of milk in the empty bottle would be swilled around to coat the inside of the bottle. The small quantity of milk would then be transferred into the other empty bottle and the process repeated. Jimmy would then produce a heavy iron weight which was just the right size to be dropped inside the milk bottles. With a quick shake the bottom of the milk bottle would fall out, usually in a nice clean circle of glass. The two broken bottles of milk would be held on to and presented back at the dairy.

Jimmy took great pride in his skill at manufacturing this evidence of broken milk bottles.  When I think about it now, I wonder why the company bothered to collect the evidence when they must have known full well that all the milkmen were breaking bottles to concoct the evidence. A much more satisfactory solution would have been simply to give them a breakage allowance of two pints every day.


"On Saturdays, there was no school to go to, so I was able to work for the full shift with Jimmy.  This was welcome news to Jimmy because Saturdays were double delivery days so that he could have Sunday's off.

The milk cart would be groaning with the weight of milk. The horse struggled at times getting up Murdoch Terrace. So what we did then was park the horse at the bottom of the hill and stagger up the street carrying all our milk with us.

In my left hand I would have my crate of 12 pints and Jimmy would have the same in his right hand, and we would carry between us a large rectangular crate of milk which contained 24 pints. Thus laden, we would go up one side of the street delivering the milk and down the other. Sometimes we would have to push two or even three of these crates up the street because of the volume of milk to be delivered.

Christmas and New Year

"Between Christmas and New Year, Jimmy would be treated to a drink by many of his customers.  I would be on holiday from school so was able to help out all day.  My job was primarily to ensure that the milk got delivered because as the morning advanced, Jimmy would get drunker and drunker and spend longer and longer in the houses socialising with his customers.

He would go about his business singing at the top of his voice. At the end of the delivery I was entrusted with the reins to guide the horse back to the dairy.

There would be more car traffic around by this time so you had to be careful that the horse did not get frightened. However, our horse was very well behaved and was well able to wander back to the depot under his own steam.  Jimmy did like to whip up the horse into a trot now and again and that was really exciting."

Stuart Wilson, Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  May 5, 2012



Ian Smith

Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Thank you to Ian Smith who wrote:

Leith Provident Co-op

Kenny Raeburn and Car  -  1960s  -  Where was this photo taken? ©

Henderson Gardens

"This photo taken at the bottom of the parking lay-by at Henderson Gardens.

The swing park is Henderson Gardens.The buildings in the background in this photo, from left to right, are departments of Leith Provident Co-op

-  Bakery Dept

-  Bakery 'back door'

-  Grocery Dept

-  Grocery Dept 'back door'

-  Butcher's Shop  (the 'star')"

Message Bike

"I had the use of a message bike. It was a solid machine with large wicker basket on the front that could take a maximum load of around 140 lbs (10 stones).

I was around 5ft and 5 stone at the time !"

"I remember that the rules for working while at school were that:

-  We must b 13 years old.

-  We must not start earlier than 7am.

I was 11.5yrs old and we were expected to start at 6am.

My run for 'The Store' was around the Broad Pavement, Henderson Gardens, and Yardheads.

-  My wages were 13/6d (£0.675) per week.

A Rammy

"One Saturday morning, while I was being paid at the Grocer's,  the Butcher, John, came through looking for the Grocer's Message Laddie to deliver to a couple of customers.

The Laddie was meant to be shared between Grocer's and Butcher's, especially for deliveries.  A rammy broke out.  I spoke out and said I would do the deliveries.  This worked out for the next 10 yrs.

So during any holidays etc., I became a butcher, and by the age 16 yrs I had learnt so much that I became Holiday Relief Manager.

Other Work

"Even after getting a job in Brain Research, I still continued to work for 'The Store' on Saturdays and in my holidays.

So my week became:

-  Monday to Friday:  Brain Research

-  Friday night:  Memphis Road Show - Roadie

-  Saturday:  'The Store'

-  Saturday night:  Memphis Road Show - Roadie

-  Sunday:  slept."

Ian Smith, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland:  October 6+16, 2014




Ian Smith

Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Ian Smith, who worked from the age of eleven for Leith Provident Co-op (See his Recollections 6 above) wrote:

Leith Provident Co-op

Enamelled Ashet Pie Dishes

"I remember the enamelled ashet pie dishes used by butchers or bakers.They were set up for pies weighing 1/2 lb, 1lb ... up to 5lb.  They were used to make steak pies, mince pies or steak and sausage pies

Around 2/- deposit was required for them, as they were very expensive to buy in."

Potted Meat

Potted Meat was still a favourite while I worked as a butcher. Our recipe was to take all the large bones, Femur, Tib and Fib, Humerus from beef.

After the meat had been stripped from the bones, the bones were  simmered for some 2 to 3hrs, as we were after gelatine cooked from the bone marrow.

We had a giant pot of stock.

Sometimes we used meat etc from sheep's heid and cheeks, a wonderful delicacy.

-  We added in meat cleaned from scraps of fat.

-  We added in some magic!

-  We strained the mixture into polycups.

-  We allowed it to set.

If it looked good when we sold it as potted meat at 2/- per unit.

If it looked a bit yucky when we sold it as dog food at 1/- per unit."

Ian Smith, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland:  October 6+15, 2014


The Store - Milk Horses