#15 Main Street (West)

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Overview The Armada Stone

Everything That Was Needed

Looking along Newhaven Main Street, both to the east and to the west, it is hard to believe but at one time Newhaven Main Street supported 83 businesses of all types. Its village shops provided all that was needed to live a contented life in Newhaven. It was said that no-one needed to leave the village to buy anything other than perhaps furniture.

Two of the residents who grew up in the “old” Newhaven of the 50s and 60s have provided Newhaven Heritage with the benefit of their knowledge.  Flora Rutherford committed to paper her keen memory of all the shops within the village  Myra Jamieson provided us with an account of the shops she had to visit when running errands for her mother.  We are indebted to both ladies.

The key to the businesses is to be found below.

Shops and Businesses on Main Street (West)

28 Post Office: Kennedy
29 Bakery: Shaw’s
30 Hall: Shaw’s
31 Drift Inn
32 Bakers/Cafe:
“Pie Davy” Wilson

33 Barber: Laidlaw
34 Boot Mender: George Patterson
35 Bookmaker: Congleton (“Tralee”)
36 Baker: Pennycook
37 Shoe Shop: Paterson
38 Grocers: Thomson
39 Maggie McFadyen’s Pub
40 Boot Repairs
41 Trawler Owner: Liston
42 Bank: Royal Bank of Scotland
43 Bakers: Mason’s
44 Hairdresser: Peters
45 Sweetshop:
May Stewart

46 Cabinet Maker: Sinclair Campbell
47 Starbank Arms Pub
48 Grocers: Brown (then Lambert)
49 Grocers: Leith Provident Co-op
50 Old Chain Pier Pub
51 Chip Shop: Gisertiri
52 Butcher: Johnstone
53 Newsagent: Beattie
54 Sweet Shop
55 Barber:
Wattie Liston

56 Butcher: Liston
57 Grocer: Bridie
58 Chip Shop: “Michael’s”
59 Trawler Owner:
D Dow

60 Trawler Owner: Muirhead
61 Stone Pier Pub
62 Barney Battle’s Pub
63 Cafe: Market Buffet
64 Fish Shop: Wilson
65 Bank of Scotland
66 Marine Hotel

3_3110 Main Street (West) around 1968. Newhaven is beginning to undergo redevelopment with families being moved out of the area. Shops are closing with their windows bricked up.
3_3104 Main Street (West) around 1968. Taken from the Western end of Main Street, looking east. A workers' van is seen on the left with a cement mixer just beyond. The white-fronted shop is a "Rag Store", a sign of the times. The days are numbered for Newhaven as it used to be.
3_3133 Main Street (West) around 1968. In the twilight of Newhaven of old, the Main Street is not yet closed off to through traffic as it is today. There are more cars on the street but just as many pedestrians.

Going the Messages

Using the map we’ll explore some of a shopper’s choice, with Newhaven-born Myra Jamieson as our guide. Myra’s mother always seems to be sending her for boiled ham!

Starting at Mason’s (43) — pies, vanilla slices, snowballs, cheesecakes, etc. I liked their vanilla cuttings. These were the border bits from the tray. I never knew why they didn’t cut them to the edge. On the corner of Craighall Road was The Royal Bank of Scotland (42), now Porto and Fi’s, and although next door used to be a post office at one time, as indicated by the postbox still in position, it became the office for trawler owner W. Liston. 

3_3223 Main Street West circa 1968. Courtesy of The Liston Legacy

Shops Along Main Street, West

Gisertiri’s (51) — a chip shop to rival the new Fishmarket any day, at least I think it was that good. I used to sort out the small bottles of lemonade and my reward was a bag of crispy batter from Mary.

Along from the chip shop and past Johnstone the butcher’s (52) was Chrissie Beattie’s paper shop (53) — papers delivered, annuals and stationery sold. Then there were two shoe menders with both having plenty of work (34 and 40). Miss Mair’s was another dark shop but sold liquorice roots chewed by most Newhaven children.  Sherbet dabs, all the cheap and cheerful sweets — no boiled ham though, probably because it was too dark to see a slicing machine, if she had one. (I wondered why she always wore gloves: could it have been an accident with the machine?)

The grocer John Thomson (34) did sell boiled ham and occasionally Oxo-flavoured crisps. Mrs Thomson (38) always kept me a packet which cost 4d (four old pennies, about 1½p today).  Joe the Barber had his shop (33) but Wattie was also another popular barber but that was down a close (55).  Only those and such as those disappeared down that close: they did return, shorn but alive!!  Nancy the Hairdresser permed all the women.

Next door was Shaw’s (29), baker and cafe. Mrs Shaw was known to the men who came up from the Fishmarket for breakfast as “piano fingers” as she could spread one piece of black pudding or sausage over the white roll!  Mr Shaw baked the goodies sold in the shop every day. Hall’s was appropriately named for they had a hall above their premises where many a celebration was held.

Mr Bridie, another boiled ham shop! We would buy a forpit (fourth part) of tatties from here — that ¼ stone = 3½ lbs = 1.59kg.  He ran a Christmas Club to save for the bottles of sherry and whisky and one year even pink gin. He had a ginger cat which sat in the front shop and disposed of mice or rats, no doubt.

The Post Office (28) was run by Miss Kennedy, the doyen of the telegram and stamps. I always wanted to sit in the telegraph booth with the headphones on — so important.

3_3243 Newhaven Main Street taken from the western end looking towards Fishmarket Square. New houses have been build on the south side and the north side awaits redevelopment. Five shops, incluiding Gisertiri's Fish and Chip Shop, can be counted in the foreground most of which have now ceased trading, PHOTO: Courtesy of Wendy Sodergren
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