Thursday, 19 December 2013

A mysterious festive tradition

There are many wonderful festive traditions that have stood the test of time, the most obvious being the kind act of gift giving. Although the exchanging of gifts at Christmas is still customary today, it seems that in St Andrews in the not-so-long-ago past, Hogmanay was also a time to look forward to for local children.

As the photograph shows, children would visit local shops and receive gifts in a tradition called ‘cake day’. We believe that this photograph was taken outside of Birrell's grocery store at 89 South Street (now a restaurant called 'Zizzi'). Unfortunately, there is no further information about ‘cake day’ - does anyone know what date this fell on? One would assume it to be New Years Day but, as far as I am aware, most stores are closed on the 1st of January. I wonder if 'cake day' happened in other towns? It would be nice to find out more information about cake day as it is such a lovely tradition that now, sadly, appears to be lost to us.

Friday, 11 October 2013

“From our Photographic Collection”, by Pat Harvey

  The first time I saw this photograph it was on display in one of our exhibitions some years ago. I was horrified and couldn’t believe the Curator was displaying a dead bird in a dog’s mouth!

   The exhibition was “Every Home Comfort” and was about St Andrews Hotels, past and present. The picture was with information on West Park Hotel which was in St Marys Place where the Students’ Union now stands. It was built in 1866 by David Bryce, an Edinburgh architect, presumably as a house.  It became a hotel in the 1900s and was run throughout its history by the Stewart family.  During the First World War it was used to billet officers.  The Stewarts originally leased the hotel, but with the money made from accommodating the officers, they were able to buy the property.  It had over an acre of beautiful gardens and was known as a popular place for quiet afternoon teas. There are some good photographs of the hotel and grounds in the Museum’s Collection.

  The answer to the photograph was as follows:-  Ross, the dog, and David, the pigeon, belonged to the Stewart family and “performed” for hotel guests.  The pigeon, which was very much alive, was perfectly safe in the retriever’s soft mouth.  They were the best of friends.  Sometimes David perched on Ross’ head or sat on his back. The photographs (we have another five) were probably taken by Mr Cowie. They appeared in newspapers of the day c. 1936.

  The University bought the hotel in 1967, demolished it and built a new Students Union on the site.  There was considerable objection at the time.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Cowan's Bonzo Toffee Tin

Each day, as I walk around the Museum turning the lights on for our 2pm opening, I encounter this little guy's face.

As a self-confessed crazy dog lady (yes, they exist!) I adore this little tin. If I was given this tin of toffees as a gift, I would appreciate the tin more than it's contents. Seeing as this tin makes me smile every day I thought it was only right to find out a bit about who made it. Thankfully, in my (google!) search I came across this fantastic website, which tells me all about the manufacturer and the 'Bonzo' brand. It seems that these tins came in different sizes, and were made in the 1920s by Cowan & McKay in Glasgow. Bonzo was a popular cartoon created by George Studdy from the early 1920s, and appeared in The Sketch. He was the face of many adverts from tobacco, confectionary and cars, and he also featured in short film, in games and on postcards. 'Bonzo' memorabilia is collectible - it looks like I may have a new collecting obsession!

Monday, 5 August 2013

St Andrews during the Great War - Preparing the Collection

Yesterday marked one year before the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. In preparation of our own exhibition on St Andrews during the Great War next summer, I have been preparing objects in the collection that could be displayed. Today, I came across this photo-postcard of the children of St Andrews on parade during Sir Douglas Haig’s visit to the Town in 1919.
In 1916 Haig was elected rector at the University of St Andrews whilst Commander-In-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force. He unveiled the war memorial, a stones-throw away from the Museum, in September 1922.

As well as the postcard, British Pathe have this silent film of the parade.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

St Andrews in the 1920’s: The Horses Road by Museum Volunteer Betty Bushnell

Some months ago my niece asked me why I was talking about the 'horse-road'. We had been discussing the resurfacing of Market Street. She had often noticed that I used that expression. The question made me think: was that not the correct name? I had not realised that I was saying anything unusual! And then I asked myself when I had last seen a horse in Market Street: certainly not since the war - unless in some infrequent festivity.

 When I  first knew the town however, there were far more horses than cars - so older generations would have used that name and, no doubt, as a young child I must have been warned; 'don't go out onto the Horse Road, keep to the footpath' (footpath rather than 'pavement' whether it was tarmaced paved or just dirt). Thus the word had come naturally to me – and remained so over all these years!

We arrived in St Andrews in 1925 and were met at the station by one of the fleet of hansom cabs which always met the trains. A dozen years or so later, these had not long been replaced by motorised taxis then back again came the horse and carts in war-time! I have a feeling that they were then retained longer than necessary in the fifties as by then the tourist attraction had been realised.

 Generally speaking, shop-deliveries in the mid-twenties were made by either horse-drawn vehicles or boys on bicycles with very large baskets in front, and displaying the Shopkeeper's name and trade prominently on the bicycle. I think I'm right in saying that the various bakers made regular deliveries once or twice a week ……

Johnston's stables were situated where Johnston Court is now, with access from both North Street and Market Street, while towards the West end of South Street was Wilson's stables.  One individual memory that has remained vivid: I was walking in Market Street with my Grandmother when suddenly, a runaway horse burst out of Johnston's and galloped down the road, hotly pursued by a couple of men. Suddenly, at the junction with Bell Street it stumbled and crashed to the ground. In vain my Grandmother was trying to hussy me away – not far enough however, to avoid my hearing the shot ring out, telling us that the animal must have broken one or more legs and was being put down. I wonder if it was the cause of the cobbles being replaced by a smooth surface?
 A happier memory is of being pulled down to the sea in one of the horse-drawn bathing machines on the West Sands. It was quite difficult to undress and put one's bathing-suit on while in motion! Even more difficult to dry oneself and dress on the return journey!
 When the Lammas Fair arrived in August they were not allowed into the town until early on the Friday – or Monday for South Street – morning. Consequently, a long queue of horse-drawn and some mechanised wagons and other vehicles could be seen the previous evening on the coast road.  During the duration of the fair the horses were allowed to stay tethered on the grass verges beyond the town's boundary.
 I have often wondered why the streets did not quickly become smelly and dirty (remembering how we suffered in the past with dog mess). This must have been due to the efficiency of the unobtrusive refuse workers who, with their hand carts, brooms and shovels seemed to appear from nowhere. Whether they were employed officially or not, I do not know.
If I ever inadvertently refer to the road as the 'horse road' in future, perhaps you will now forgive me!
                                                                                 Johnston’s Livery Stables, 117—119 Market Street




Friday, 19 July 2013

Sketch of Cynicus by Alick P. F. Ritchie

Alick P. F. Ritchie was born in Dundee (1868-1938) and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Antwerp before moving to London. He produced cartoons for many magazines, including Vanity Fair and The Sketch. In 1912, he published a book called Zoo-all-awry , and in the 1920s and 30s, he produced posters for the London Underground.

                                                    Sketch of Cynicus by Alick Ritchie

This sketch is on loan to the museum from a private collection for display during our summer exhibition 'Cynicus: The story of martin Anderson'. Martin was working as a staff artist for a Dundee newspaper in the 1880s, so we believe this was sketched during this time.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Profile of a St Andrean: Elizabeth Woodcock

Elizabeth Woodcock is remembered for her distinctive persona and generosity of spirit. She was the eldest daughter of Beatrice Tullis and William Woodcock, a prominent St Andrews lawyer. In the Scottish tradition, she kept her own name after marriage. During her life-time she was a familiar figure in the town, often remembered riding her bicycle wearing her hat and green visor.

Mrs. Woodcock Bumby was a generous benefactor to the people of St Andrews. The clock on the south corner of the Town Hall was gifted to the town in memory of her father. In 1962, she donated money to erect a canopy over the new entrance to the Town Hall in Queen’s Gardens.

After her death in 1971, Mrs. Woodcock Bumby left over £100,000 in a Trust set up to support unmarried or widowed women, preferably of Scottish origin, who found themselves in ‘straitened or distressed circumstances’.

The Woodcock Bequest, today, manages Rose Park and its surrounding cottages as rented accommodation. The house, on the corner of City Road and Double Dykes Road was her own home. Other beneficiaries included Holy Trinity Church, the Salvation Army and The St Andrews Preservation Trust. Several other properties in the town are also managed by the Woodcock Bequest.


Monday, 4 February 2013

Recent Donation

A local resident recently gifted a sizable collection of artefacts relating to a Polish soldier who was dispatched to St Andrews during the Second World War to help defend the East coast. The collection includes his military papers, but more intriguingly, a Polish art book and St Johns Ambulance bandage.

The art book contains numerous examples of Polish art from the turn of the twentieth century, and there is a lengthy introduction at the beginning that needs translating. If anyone is willing, please get in touch! It is such a beautiful book that it is a shame to know so little about it.

The bandage is interesting as it shows the many different ways in which it can be used. It is quite curious that it belonged to a Polish WW2 soldier though, as the bandage dates from the First World War. The plot thickens! Unfortunately the donor couldn’t shed any light on this, so it can only be presumed that our Polish soldier came across this during his time in Scotland in the early 1940’s.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Research Group Display

Come One, Come All!

26th January - 3rd February 2013

Our volunteer research group have been busy putting their displays together for the weekend. Several topics have been thoroughly researched, including the main events in St Andrews in 1902. We have some fascinating objects for you to see, including this Rowantree Chocolate tin box made in celebration of King Edward VII’s Coronation on the 26th of June 1902, marking the end of the Victorian period. The tin was handed out to local school children to mark the occasion.
The exhibition will open this Saturday (26th of January 2013) from 10am where we will be having our annual coffee morning, and we will be closing at 4pm. Thereafter, the museum will be open from 1pm - 4pm daily until the 3rd of February 2013.