Cellardyke Shops and Businesses


1 John Street

Advert 1948 Waid Magazine, (J Smith and J Doig)
  • John Gilchrist’s – Boot and Shoe shop and draper – This building was built with cast concrete for John Gilchrist in 1873, he had been trading since at least 1866. Gilchrist manufactured the products he sold in a large building out the back- He sold his drapery business to J Marr in 1876, in 1890 all the premises are up for sale.
  • Thomas Cormack – Butcher until 1893
  • Peter Smith Draper – 1899 –
  • Eck Bowman – Butchers at least 1940’s-1960s
  • The east half of the premises was Fergie Bowman’s Post Office (1960s) and then Thomasina Aitken’s Fruit Shop
  • Philip Aitken Butcher and Fruitshop 1960s and 1970s
  • The whole building became ‘The Imperial‘ Chinese Carry out
  • ‘The Golden Dragon’ Chinese Restaurant (1980s to 2015)
  • ‘Fortune House’ Chinese Take-a-way (2016)
No description available.
2021 Golden Lion Chinese takeaway Photo Malcolm Macdonald
Photo Rob Glendinning

John Gilchrist

1866 – WANTED, a few JOURNEYMEN SHOEMAKERS to Rivet and do Pegged Work Apply to John Gilchrist Cellardyke, Fife.

1871 – the extensive boot and shoe manufactory Mr Gilchrist —has just been rendered singularly interesting by the introduction of that wonderful contrivance, “The Blake Sole Sewing Machine.”

About midsummer we had occasion notice some interesting things about Mr Gilchrist’s establishment, but within the last few weeks his premises have been considerably enlarged to suit his rapidly increasing wholesale business. A spacious gallery has been erected over the long range of workshops, which may be described as the “machine room” of this wonderful factory. Here some eight or nine sewing machines work away as busy grasshoppers in autumn, in stitching together and binding the “uppers” of boots and shoes, though, of course, the “admired of all admirers” the beautiful American invention for sewing the soles.. It is simply impossible to describe this eminently ingenious contrivance, which is, perhaps, the most complicated and elaborate machine at present in use. It consists of fewer than 265 pieces, but we cannot illustrate their indefinite and complex arrangement better than the following little anecdote Gilchrist has a singular aptitude for mechanics, but when visiting— many others have done—the curious machine, we were struck the close and riveted look on his shrewd and expressive Scottish countenance. “I can never examine it,” said he, “without noticing some new and unexpected movement unthought of before.” The working principle, however, may admit of this general description. The boot or shoe, after the sole and upper has been fastened together, is withdrawn from the last and is then put upon a horn-like projection, which, besides serving the place the human hand, also contains the sewing thread, which is kept saturated with ”wax” or “rosin.” The needle, which is barbed like a crotchet pin, pierces through the soles and brings up the bight of the thread which is thrust forward a tongue-like slide, so to embrace the next movement of the needle, when as the thread is a second time drawn out of the horn, a loop is formed, and as by a two-fold action the machine at once presses the leather and tightens the stitch—the result a seam of extraordinary strength and durability, and of no less neatness, as the loop is simultaneously with the stitching concealed in a groove or channel cut in the sole. So quickly is this done, and so readily does the machine accommodate itself either to the thin waist or to the thick forepart that the sewing on of the sole of a stout walking boot is done little more than half a minute.

This magic-working invention is gradually spreading over the country, and we believe that though for the first time introduced into is the seventh in Scotland. It costs about £100, but more considerable still, the manufacturers using it have to pay royalty of fivepence for every one thousand stitches, or fully more than penny on every pair of shoes, which is registered much in the same way ordinary gas-meter.

Mr Gilchrist’s enterprise, however, has not stopped here, for a powerful machine has also been fitted up in his establishment, which, while working the principle of an ordinary sewing machine, can stitch with waxed or rosined thread, and will this way be serviceable for the heaviest class of work. ……… Steam power has been for some months employed Mr Gilchrist s establishment, and no difficulty intervened in applying it as in the case of the many other machines—the sewing, the sole cutting, and sole beating, and edge dressing apparatus—to the propulsion of the new interesting comer. There are at present about fifty persons employed Mr Gilchrist’s boot and shoe manufactory ; but, notwithstanding the large extent to which machinery is used, and here it has reached a degree of efficiency not exceeded Scotland—the reputation of the establishment is sustaining itself so well despite the keen competition the times, that instead of lessening the demand for manual labour, it has increased it, or use favourite maxim its spirited proprietor, ‘ Every improvement the father of its own success, and, as rule, machinery will be found to open a far larger market in one direction than it closes in another, so far as steady and attentive workmen are concerned. And this appears to simply the fact in Cellardyke, as every new machine followed by an increase the number of hands. “Preserve’s a’, whaur’s the feet come fae to wear so mony shoon,” exclaimed old Lizzie, as she stood behind her little counter, and rubbed her spectacles in wonder over the news the machine, and while the forty or fifty workpeople were leaving the premises at dinner time. These Cellardyke made boots and shoes, however, are sent thousands pairs to all parts of Scotland, and also to Australia;

1873 -Mr John Gilchrist of the Cellardyke Steam Boot and Shoe Works, is at present erecting a handsome edifice on the celebrated concrete principle on the fine corner opposite the Tollbooth . The novel erection is thirty three feet long, twenty one wide and twenty two high in the front wall, and is to embrace an elegant and commodious shop on the ground floor with neat family apartments above; and as it has swept away the mean and incongruous subjects which so long disfigured the locality, Mr Gilchrist’s enterprise has effected one of the most decided improvements ever carried out in Cellardyke..

1876 – We understand that in giving up the drapery branch of his widely developed business, Mr John Gilchrist of the steam show company , Cellardyke, has disposed of his stock to townsman Mr John Marr, Draper. The transfer price we hear was ten shillings in the pound, and the value in what may be described as the household outfit department is about £200.

1899 – 5th May – OPENING ANNOUNCEMENT. PETER SMITH, Begs to intimate to the Inhabitants of Cellardyke, Anstruther. Pittenweem, St Monans, and surrounding Districts, that TOMORROW, (SATURDAY), he will Commence Business as GENERAL DRAPER at No. 1 John Street, Cellardyke, and hopes by strict attention to Business, offering Goods of Superior Quality at MODERATE PRICES to merit a share of public Patronage.

National Bank – This was originally a cafe on the ground floor of the Town Hall

Later the Royal Bank and currently occupied by Lodge St Ayle No 95

Photo Malcolm Macdonald

The Royal bank of Scotland…It had been the National bank before that. They ‘rouped’ or auctioned the house there too.

When I started to work as a Primary teacher in Pittenweem School in 1978 I was paid by cheque each month. I came home at lunchtime and would deposit my cheque there before returning to work. One lunchtime I went in to find the lady in charge had placed all the piles of money and bank papers on the floor behind the counter and was cutting out a dress from a length of material that was spread over the counter!!! It closed soon after and became a kitchen/bar for the Town Hall before it was turned into Lodge St. Ayles, the local Masonic lodge in the early 2000s.

Info Susan Cathcart

Boat Tavern-

Photo Alex Watson Tam Kinnear Publican
  • Joseph Downey – appears 1903 Slater’s directory
  • Tam Kinnear –
  • Mrs Wilson –
  • Mac (Bill) MacInnes (60s) –
  • A retired Police Sergeant(70s) –
  • Mrs Pattie(70s) –
  • Sandy? (70s) –
  • The Buchart’s (80s) –
  • Russ and Veronica Gudge (90s) –
  • David Sheilds (00s)

Re furbished and opened as ‘Barco’ winebar in 2010 but closed around 2015. Re opened as Coastal Inn

11 John Street

  • J Gilchrist prior to November 1875 J Gilchrist ran a grocers/ Ironmongers and Boot and Shoe Manufactory. He sold the Grocers and Ironmongery to John Butters. Gilchrist also owned shoped in Anstruther which he sold onl to Charles Robertson in 1875
  • John Butters & Sons – Grocers and Ironmongers 1875 -1960s?
John Butters and employee Kathleen Scott – Photio David Barnett
Inside Butter’s shop Photo Malcolm Macdonald

James Butters then his sons Sandy and Jimmy. It was the Tesco of its day! It sold everything!

The counter of the shop was my measuring stick for how tall I had grown…..needing a box, then nearly able to see over the counter, to being able lay my chin on top!

Kathleen Scott worked there for all her working life. She fascinated me when I was small as she used to form the butter into half pounds or quarters by using butter paddles. Two wooden ‘bats’ that had ridges cut into them. She’d cut into the huge slab of butter then pat the piece between the paddles to form blocks. She could also whip a piece of brown paper round her hand and turn it magically into a cone, push in the base to make a bag, scoop up sugar or rice or lentils and drop it into the bag before popping on a small piece of Selotape to secure it.

No shopping trip was complete without a trip to the ‘backshop’ to visit Sandy in his office. It was straight out of Dickens with his sloping desk, high stool and ink wells. Sandy smoked a pipe which gave Butter’s its own unique smell….a mix of pipe smoke, butter, bacon, paraffin, tarry rope and leather from the bootery! He also had a huge back garden…mostly given over to outhouses for paraffin and other stores. But he had a greenhouse with the most marvellous grapevine! Black grapes….a bunch of which always would be donated to the Church Harvest Thanksgiving and hung in the centre of the organ pipes above the minister’s head!

In his later years, he would ask Dad to come and prune the vine for him. The grapes were sweet and juicy!

Biscuits were sold loose from glass lidded, ‘Huntly and Palmer’ or ‘Peak Frean’ boxes, bacon was cut by turning the handle of a machine with a circular disc cutter, cheese was cut into blocks with a cheese wire. Boots, shoe and ‘baffies’ were sold in the bootery.

Pink Paraffin and bundles of ‘kinlin’ sticks along with firelighters were stacked on the floor.

Ella was left the property when Sandy died and she moved to Ellis Street in the early 1970s. The property was offered to my Dad for £3000…..he couldn’t afford it!

It was made into a house and the shop into a garage/store for a builder in the 70s. The ‘Bootery’ was turned into an Art Gallery when the artist, David Watt (and wife Biddy) bought the property in the late 70s. Since then the shop has been made into a separate holiday rental flat, the upstairs remains as a house and the bootery is also a holiday rental flat.

Info Susan Cathcart

Advert 1948 Waid Magazine, (J Smith and J Doig)

21 John Street – Albert Morris – Confectioner

17 Feb 1903

39 John Street – Melville’s Curing Yard, later Alex Parker’s (Eck Parkie) Plumbers

Photo Malcolm Macdonald

Down the ‘pend’ towards the sea, Tam Melville’s Kippering sheds. (My granny and her neighbours apparently complained bitterly that their washing smelled of kipp every time he ‘coaled up’ the smoker.) 

It fell into disrepair and became Alex Parker’s plumber’s yard. It was a favourite haunt of the local children who would climb up from the beach on to the grassed over square where the fire was lit to make the smoke for the kippering process and from there could climb in the window openings and get into the ruined building. There we played among the broken toilets and chipped sinks that Parkie had removed from houses and dumped there……until Alex would suddenly appear and we all fled from which ever window was nearest!!

Info Susan Cathcart

21 John Street –

  • William Leslie – Merchant 1884
  • Gunn’s Grocers – Maggie Watson‘s general Store – Maggie Watson was Mrs Gunn
  • Sweetshop
Photo Rob Glendinning
No description available.

Maggie Watson’s General Store (actually Maggie Watson was a Mrs Gunn, and ran the shop with May Gunn, her daughter.) She sold fruit and veg and tinned goods. This was a favourite haunt for the local bairns in the 60s to spend their pocket money. You came down about 3 or 4 steps into the shop and she had an upturned lemonade crate to stop you falling down the side of the steps. This was where the bairns stood to see over the counter.

She had the very unhygienic habit of laying loose sweets out on trays on the shelf behind where she stood. The bairns would ask for ‘The penny tray’ or the ‘ha’penny tray’ and then you would get to pick what you wanted from them. No wonder our generation has a wonderful immune system!!!!

I would be sent to Maggie’s for various things in such quantities that few will even remember….

ie “Gan tae Maggie’s for half a lippy o’ tatties….an see May Gunn disnae weigh her fingers!” 

Maggie had many sayings that I can remember …

‘Nivver sell yer hens on a rainy day!’…meaning Always look for an advantage and don’t sell yourself short.

I also remember her delving into the sweety jars with her podgy hands, taking a fistful of sweets and not being able to get her hand out of the neck of the jar again! She would always say…

” That’s how they used tae catch the monkeys! They’d fill a jar wi nuts and they’d grab them when they got their haun’ stuck!”

Info Susan Cathcart

21 John Street doors and windows changed – Photo Malcolm Macdonald

32 John Street

  • Parkers Confectioners giving up in 1914
No description available.
No description available.

38 John Street

  • 1884

SALE OF GROCERS STOCK AND UTENSILS. To be SOLD by Public Roup, upon WEDNESDAY, 22d October 1884, THE WHOLE STOCK of GROCERIES, &c., belonging to David Corstorphine, 38 John Street, Cellardyke, including Tea, Sugar, Soap, Confections, Baskets, Stock Chests, Beams, Scales, and Weights, 2-Wheeled Barrow, Counter 9 ft. by 2i (little used), Water Casks, etc., etc. The Roup will commence at 2 p.m. J. BONTHRON, Auctioneer. Cellardyke, 14th Oct. 1884.

TO LET, that SHOP in CELLARDYKE, presently occupied by David Corstorphine (situated in centre of town), where a good trade has been done for past 25 years. Entry Free till term. Present tenant going abroad. Apply Watson, 40 John Street, Cellardyke. East of Fife Record – Friday 17 October 1884

NOTICE. —All Parties having Claims against DAVID CORSTORPHINE 38 John Street, Cellardyke, are requested to hand same to him and all Parties indebted to him are requested to make payment within 14 days from this date. Cellardyke, 23d Oct. 1884. East of Fife Record – Friday 24 October 1884

NO ? Maggie Dunbar’s sweety shop on the northside of the street.

44 John Street

  • Philip Grubb – Tailor and clothier – appears 1903 Slater’s Directory

46 John Street –

  • Watson’s – Drapers
  • Scott’s -Shoe makers
Photo Alex Watson

Scotts Shoe makers

Photo Malcolm Macdonald

Shoemaker and repairs No. 46 John Street – at the foot of ‘Long Tailor’s Close’, now wrongly labelled as ‘Taylor’s Close’. It ought to be Tailor’s Close as this was formally premises of George Watson who, at the time of his death in 1903, was the oldest inhabitant of Cellardyke at 92 years. According to a newspaper report at the time of his death,

“The deceased, who was a very tall man, and a tailor to trade, was familiarly known as ‘the long tailor’. In addition to his own occupation the deceased acted for many years as Procurator Fiscal for Kilrenny.”

The close has 39 steps leading up to East Forth Street! ( Susan Cathcart)

54 John Street

This was a shop in 1888 but we have no knowledge of what type of shop yet

No description available.

63 John Street

  • Annie Cunningham – Grocer and Sweetie shop ( blue door), till 1960’s (small window with iron bars)

Annie Cinny’s

Photo Malcolm Macdonald