Co-op buildings

Notes by Keddie Law

In the post-war years and up to the 1960s the retail trade of the town was largely dominated by the Burntisland (latterly Cowdenbeath) Co-operative Society. The main buildings of the Co-op are shown on the right of the photograph. Where today you will find a café, the Co-op had its two-storey drapery and furniture store. Many a school pupil got his or her uniform from this shop. Some of the original fittings of the store are still visible today. To the right of the drapery the photograph shows the Co-op Furnishings, which included electrical goods. Completing the line-up of Co-op shops on this side of the street there was a shoe shop (visible in the photo) and a chemist. The sign for the Porte restaurant, sited upstairs, is clearly shown. The rooms could be adapted as a function suite used for Christmas parties and such like.

Opposite these buildings on the south side of the High Street there was a small baker’s shop and upstairs the administrative offices. It was here that the shopping receipts (laboriously entered by hand at the time of purchase) were collated to calculate the Co-op “divi” for the year. The Co-op Funeral Service also operated from these buildings. At the entrance to the High Street there was a butcher’s shop (and still is, albeit different owners).

This photograph was probably taken in the mid- to late-1960s and none of the buildings retain their original function to this day.

In addition to the High Street shops the Co-op had four “satellite” shops around the town: at Rossend, Coltburndale, James Park and Silverbarton. Two of these shops have since been converted into houses. Each shop had its own message boy who would deliver orders by bicycle to homes after school (with bread deliveries on Saturday morning).

Deliveries throughout the town were also undertaken by van, and older readers will remember the early morning deliveries of milk and rolls by one Willie Vallance with his horse-drawn cart.