Crieff’s High Street Before World War 1 ( 1913/1914 ) Part One

Crieff’s  High Street Before World War 1 ( 1913/1914 )
Part One


    Tom Cuthbert , grocer , East High Street ( now Mike Sweeney , barber )


                                            Crieff Coop about 1914

Our little  town was somewhat different shop wise than it is  today . This  analysis  is  taken from Leslie’s Directory of Perthshire published  100  years ago ! Included are a number  of  businesses which although not  located in the town  itself presumably regarded Crieff as their  nearest major centre . We  here in Crieff have  just enjoyed a well organised and well run Arts Festival in  which many  of the current traders  participated . The shops  provided an outlet  for the many talented people who live  in and  near to the town . Sadly the number of  shops  has  dwindled somewhat over the years and gone is the variety found in the pre War listing below . The  advent of  internet shopping  and large multi functioning  supermarkets has unravelled the intricate pattern of the traditional town centre as  we can discern  below . Eateries and carry out food shops have now usurped the position of the Berlin Wool and Fancy Repositories of yesteryear !

The demise of the railway in Crieff thanks  to the myopic  Dr Beeching in the 1960s saw the acceleration in the decline of  many retail and service areas in the town . King Street from the Square down to the Station ( now the Crieff Hospital ) had an abundance of attractive  wee shops -3 bakers – 2 woollen shops- 3 booksellers and stationers -2 boot and shoe shops-2 cabinet makers –a cycle shop -2 butchers – a fishmonger – 4 grocers- 4 tobacconists - a  fishing tackle maker – 2 hairdressers- 4 inns or hotels-an ironmonger – a laundry- a dressmaker – a watchmaker -2 plumbers – 4 “ refreshment “ rooms ( possibly tea shops ) and 3 tailors and clothiers ! The town boasted some twelve  hotels or  inns including the “ Pret “or Pretoria and the Star which  is  now the Crieff Hotel . All the others apart from the immensely  successful Hydro have all gone.  .The  five temperance establishments which reflected the mood  of the day have vanished . I refrain from suggesting  what the future  pattern of retail Crieff might be as there are  more than a few factors unclear as yet in the equation . What is certain the King Streets of yesteryear is now  most certainly gone .

In these days of internet banking and " holes in the wall " , we have  lost contct in many instances  with the the managers of yesteryear . Crieff immediately  prior  to the start of war had more than a few . Listed Banks  included The Bank of Scotland , The British Linen Bank ,The Clydesdale Bank ,Commercil Bank of Scotland ,North of Scotland Bank , Union Bank of Scotland , Post Office Savings Bank ( 3  in total  ) and a County and City of Perth Savings Bank -  a total of ten in total !

If your  material  self  was  well catered  for in the town , you could  most certainly  ensure that your sole  would  be in equally safe hands . Crieff had a  surely a church to suit virtually every belief that was  being  currently preached  ! The list is fascinating in its ecclesiastical complexity . We had 2 Parish Churches - St Michaels and the West Church ( known as a " Chapel of Ease " ) ,The North United Free and the South United Free , an Episcopal Church , a Roman Catholic Chapel , a Baptist Chapel and a Congregational Church all serving a population of  some 4 000 souls !

                              The Congregational Church now the Primary School Dining Hall

The list  below is a synopsis of Leslies Directory of Perth and Perthshire , published  in 1913/ 1914. These  were  published each year from about 1880 until the commencement of the Second World War in 1939 . The list  below gives  you the number of  each type  of retail outlet , busines or practice that functioned at that time . I have listed in Part Two of this blog the specific names and addresses  of each one . This  should  be of particular interest to those  who are involved with family history in Crieff and its environs in this period .

Summary of the Businesses  Listed In Leslie's Directory of Perth and Perthshire in 1913/1914
Bakers - 7
Banks - 10 
Berlin Wool & Fancy Repositories- 5
Billposters - 1
Blacksmiths - 13
Booksellers , Binders , Stationers , Printers and Newsagents - 10
Boot and Shoe Makers - 10
Cabinetmakers - 7
Cart and Ploughwrights -6
Chemists and Druggists - 4
China and Glass Dealers  -1
Coach Builders - 2
Coach Hirers - 11
Coal Merchants - 6
Cycle Agents and Hirers - 4
Dentists -3
Fishing Tackle makers - 1
Fleshers ( Butchers ) -5
Game Dealers and Fishmongers - 5
Greengrocers and Fruiterers - 4
Grocers --1
Grocers and General Dealers - 18
Hairdressers - 5
Hotels Inns and Hydropathics- 15 ( including 5 Temperance establishments )
Ironmongers - 4
Joiners and Carpenters - 9
Laundries - 8
Libraries - 4
Linen and Woollen Drapers -10
Commercial Wool Spinners - 1
Millers - 6
Milliners and Dressmakers - 12
Millwrights - 1
Music Teachers - 6
Local Newspapers - 2
Painters - 3 
Photographer - 1
Plasterers - 2
Plumbers and Gas Fitters  - 5
Preserve Makers ( Jam )- 1
Refreshment Rooms - 4
Saddlers - 3
Saw Mill Owners 4
Schools (including rural ones ) -6 in Crieff town and 6 rural ( excluding Muthill , Monzievaird and Comrie )
Seedsman - 7
Slaters- 2
Solicitors - 8
Stonemasons and Builders-5
Surgeons - 6
Tailors and Clothiers -14
Tobacconists -9
Undertakers- 8
Vetiranry Surgeons -4
Warch and Clock Makers -5


  1. Dear CaledonCol, am enjoying reading your blog and notice you mentioned you would list specific names and addresses of Crieff businesses from Leslie's directory 1913/14. As someone who has old family in Crieff I'd love to see these, but I can't find your list, is it still to come? Many thanks, Susan


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