Apart from Tranent, there are two other significant settlements in the parish: Meadowmill to the north, and the much bigger Elphinstone to the southwest.
Lying between the A1 bypass trunk road and the Edinburgh-London rail line, Meadowmill consists of the hamlet of Meadowmill, the sports centre (with the bowling centre) and playing fields, and the former St Joseph’s school, plus a small depot for the council cleansing department, and, most recently, a golfing practice range.
This hamlet comprises a row of five or six houses (with a further development planned) all privately owned. It has existed as a hamlet, though with more dwelling houses than today, for many years; there was at least one shop, now no more. A garden centre existed here, but closed down recently.
Elphinstone, looking east, 1978
Elphinstone pre-war was a small, fairly closed community of mainly mining families. housing families of men working local mines owned by the coal owners such as Mr Durie. No less than five interconnected streets have the name Duries Park. Although it is in Edinburgh’s hinterland and close to Tranent there is a feeling amongst the inhabitants that it suffers from the neglect common to remote rural areas; the failure to build a new school and hall still rankles. Ironically the only government building works undertaken was the public toilet, which was not really required, there being few visitors or tourists. Inevitably it closed and was demolished. The absence of a library, medical facilities, non?licensed entertainment spots, full sports facilities, greater play activities for children and a wider range of shops has not helped in sustaining a viable population, nor have reduced transport links. There is no longer a village constable; an occasional patrol car from Tranent is considered enough and the police house is now a private home.
However, the strong community spirit is still working to keep Elphinstone as more than just a satellite estate for commuters working in towns and the city. A private car is if not essential at least important; more than half the households have access to a car. Those that cannot afford a car or do not have one for other reasons – mostly older people – face real problems. There is only one bus an hour on average, which runs to Tranent and Port Seton. There is only one direct bus to Edinburgh, (at 7am) and a few which are extended to Dalkeith or Musselburgh. These are not commercially viable and only survive by council subsidy. Campaigns to keep them in place have often been required.
People on the whole know their neighbours quite well – more recent inhabitants as well as locals. It should be noted, however, that local legends of nosiness are apocryphal (Snodgrass, C.P. 1953 p197). Residents are no more or less curious than anywhere else and there is no record of knocking on walls to alert everyone of strangers. The nickname of ‘Peeptoon’ still persists but is a jest.
According to Frank Tindall, ‘The Labour Party had seen to it that the three Burgh Councils of Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Tranent, and the County Council at Preston, Macmerry, Ormiston and Elphinstone, exercised their powers under the Housing Acts to build new houses for them between the wars’ (Tindall, F. 1998 p16).
In Tranent, these include the Morrison Avenue, Northfield and Harkness Crescent schemes. Lammermoor Terrace was ‘modern’ miners’ homes, built 1924, later taken into council housing stock.
Joe Baxter recalled in an interview, his first house in Eastfield, down from John Street (since demolished), after his marriage in 1945. It was an ex-miner’s house, with a scullery / kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. It had bed recesses, gas lights and outside toilets, but it was a house and it was their own. Gas was the only means of cooking and heating. They had a gas fire, ‘a boiler at the side with a tap in it for taking off your hot water for baths – tin baths, hung up in the scullery, no bathrooms’ (Baxter, 1987).
In 1945, much of the unsanitary housing in Tranent had already been cleared away. This is not to say that, here as elsewhere, there was not a considerable housing shortage (Haddingtonshire Courier 1945 December 28). By December the following year the Courier was reporting that 100 houses were being erected by the Scottish Special Housing Association and that temporary measures were being taken to acquire land for at least 44 prefabs and 66 permanent houses at Coalgate. Delays in all these programmes were reported in following years and attributed to shortages of materials and labour (Haddingtonshire Courier 1946 December 27; 1947 December 26; 1948 December 31). Another perennial problem was subsidence due to old mine workings. This early post-war building was concentrated to the east of the town, as the other suitable area, to the south of the town, was intended at this stage for the route of the new A1 bypass.
Ormiston Road housing scheme
The Ormiston Road scheme, built in the mid 1950s, introduced several innovations. Four of the houses were of the experimental type having central heating, while 28 were of two apartments for old people or childless couples (Haddingtonshire Courier 1956 December). One feature copied from America was the front doors opening onto a footpath, with vehicles circulating to the back of the houses (Tindall, F. 1998 p139). The tenants, says Tindall ‘got to choose the colour of their front doors from a range of eight paints’. The scheme was not a great success as most tenants used their back courts where they had built garages, and ignored the footpaths at the front. 1956 also saw the building of over 100 houses to the south of Ross High playing fields.
Coal Neuk Court (Castle Rock Housing Association), built on the site of the former Co-op depot in Bridge Street. The Methodist Church is on the right.
After the decision to route the bypass to the north in the mid 1960s, housing expansion in the south and southeast could proceed on a more ambitious scale, Windygoul ridge being seen as the new boundary. 1969 saw the last phase of the project south of King’s Road, between the school playing fields and Elphinstone Road. By the start of 1965, 696 local authority and 100 SSHA houses had been built since the war (Scotsman 1965 January 19) and Tranent Town Council had a high reputation for its work, albeit frustrations with high interest charges were curbing their ambitions (Haddingtonshire Courier annual retrospective 1957, December; 1958, December).
With the exception of some rural properties, the remainder of the sub-standard housing had been demolished by the early 1970s, including old tenement rows in Park Road and Loch Road. The five basic amenities required under the building regulations of the time were: a fixed bath or shower, indoor toilet, wash hand basins, mains and hot water supply and adequate kitchen facilities (Nisbet, 1972 p17). The houses in Harkness Crescent still lacked the fixed bath.
With a further 300 council house completions in the first half of the 1970s, housing waiting lists were reduced below 100 by the late 1970s.
Early private housing development had been concentrated in the west of the town. ‘West Ends’ had been the salubrious areas of towns for centuries, reflecting the belief that cholera and plague were carried on the wind as a miasma. In a country of prevailing west winds, the west was therefore felt to be the healthiest spot for the affluent to live.
Architect and Tranent resident James Strachan recalls that:
‘Bankpark was begun about 1935 to provide houses for co-op managers of a co-op market garden, number one and two Bankpark Crescent. Numbers four and six were built by Robert Hogg, for his own use and for his mother-in-law about 1938. Numbers eight and ten were built about 1950, for a chip-shop owner, and a GPO engineer.
On the other side of the road, a plumber built number seven in 1951, and we built number five soon after. Number nine was built by a milkman soon after. So it went on. The speculative builder, Hart, was building in the Crescent and Grove in the 1960s and the last houses in Bankpark Brae were built as a speculation in the 1980s’.
The Carlaverock scheme of the 1970s and early 1980s was also the work of Hart Builders, originally a local firm, based in Winton Place, but later to become one of the county’s major employers, based at Macmerry. The Thatcher government’s promotion of private ownership accelerated the trend towards private building, though it must be noted that nearly 200 private houses had been built in the town in the first half of the 1970s (West Sector, 1978). Gardiner’s Wynd, off Sanderson’s Wynd, named in honour of Colonel James Gardiner is the work of Beazer Homes (1998). At the same time Castle Rock Housing Association were building 34 houses on the site of the former co-op’s yards and depot, renamed Coal Neuk Court.
Despite these private developments and the years of council house sales, at the end of the century more than 61% of households in Tranent west and 50% in Tranent east were renting from a housing association, the local authority or Scottish Homes. And notwithstanding the enormous building programmes, East Lothian Council’s Social Work division (according to figures supplied by its information officer) dealt with 130 claims of homelessness in Tranent in 2000-01 (74 from single people, 56 from families). Twenty single people and one family had slept rough, and 30 individuals and 17 families were staying at c/o addresses.
On the threshhold of the new century, a projected 800 new homes had been allocated for West Windygoul and a further development at Tranent Mains, mixed public and private housing. A developer contribution to ‘education capacity, community infrastructure and facilities will be required’ (East Lothian Council web site, 2002 January).
The poor housing referred to in the 1953 account of Elphinstone was eventually demolished but not until a couple of decades had elapsed; most notoriously metal prefabs erected after the war as a ‘temporary’ measure lasted into the 1980s. The fields between the edge of the village and North Elphinstone farm had two streets added, in 1958 and again in 1970. They were both designated part of the Duries Park area. A few years later the Cinderhall Place development took place just above the north end of Buxley Road. These were local authority houses; but a private scheme was added in a former field at the north west tip of the village and called Waterloo Place. Another private development was squeezed in on a piece of cleared ground behind the village shop in Main Street, and named Marchwood Court. Two houses have also been added to the southern edge of the village at the Bellyford Road, behind the Mission Hall. The Government’s tenants’ right-to-buy scheme has also led to a significant number of council houses being bought by their tenants. The owner/occupier versus rented balance has altered, for after the war virtually all the houses were council owned and rented out. The schoolmaster’s house is also a private home, as head teachers are no longer expected to live locally.
A consequence of private house building and sales by the tenants?turned?owners has been an influx of new residents. The village is no longer a closed community. Though there is still a significant number of denizens who trace back their line five / six generations to the first residents, or who can claim to be related to several other families of similar longstanding, an increasing number of new house purchasers, attracted by the proximity of Edinburgh, have no previous connection to Elphinstone, or for that matter East Lothian.
Families with school age children have tended to move away, mainly owing to concerns about poor transport and lack of proximity to amenities. A house swap scheme run by the council accelerated this trend, as most taking advantage were younger people who wanted to be closer to secondary schools. Those taking their place tended to have grown-up families. Similarly children from the village tend to buy or move to homes nearer population centres when they grow up and get a job or marry.
At the start of 2002 work has begun on a new housing development in a field between Waterloo Place and Tranent Road. More housing developments are foreseen in future years. It is possible that if expansion continues and concomitant developments to the south of Tranent also continue then Tranent and Elphinstone will merge sometime in the 21st century.
Housing conditions on the farm steadings could lag behind those in the town. David Sydeserff was raised on one of the Co-op’s farms, and recalls that
‘The family home from about 1963/64 to about 1995 was on Kingslaw farm, east of Tranent, though I was away for the latter part of this era. The home was a four-apartment semi-detached farm cottage. There were three ‘blocks’ of houses on the farm, two being semis, giving a total of five homes. They were built in the early 1950s. My father worked on the co-op farms, so it was a ‘tied’ house, free tenancy.
When we first arrived, the family comprised my parents, myself and my grandfather (who died in 1966). My sister was born in 1970, and our father died in 1986. Both deaths were in the house, quite sudden. My sister’s fiancé moved in in 1988 and their child was born next year, but they moved away as soon as they found a house in town. My mother had a life rent on co-op property, my father having had a long service with them, but she moved into town about 1995, which was more convenient, as she was on her own by then.
Over this period, the Co-op gradually sold off their houses. By 1995 only mother’s was left, and when she moved, it too was sold.
The house had three bedrooms, living room and kitchen, plus bathroom – all rooms had windows. Heating was by coal fires, in the living room and two of the bedrooms. A back boiler was installed in mid 1960s so the water could be heated via the fire. I can’t recall the water supply being ‘improved’ so perhaps it was originally non-lead pipes. The electrics, however, remained old-style until 1989, when they were brought up to date. The loft and walls were insulated in the early 1980s.
The house was cold, especially in winter – though being used to this when growing up, today’s description would best be ‘very cold’! Supplementing the coal fires were paraffin heaters, the fuel coming from Dicksons hardware shop in Tranent (where Farmfoods is now): it was a popular enough form of heating up to the early 1980s. The combination of these kept us warm during the power workers’ strikes of the early 1970s – food could easily be cooked on an open fire! The folk who considered themselves modern however, with all-electric homes, including central heating, were badly affected by these strikes. Old-fashioned lamps, Tilley or paraffin, gave us enough light. In the 1980s the coal was got from the opencast!
The kitchen was small considering the house was a four-apartment, holding maybe four of a family at a time. There wasn’t space for everyone to sit around a table in the kitchen, so meals weren’t an occasion for a family gathering. Nor did the size of the kitchen lend itself to anything other than basic meal making – which was just as well seeing as mum couldn’t cook! (poultry and veg meals were made by dad.). Two big stone sinks were torn out in 1989 and replaced by the usual stainless steel.
I don’t recall there being a washing machine until the mid 1970s, and even then it was a twin tub and a separate wringer. No doubt before then it was all done by hand – we did have a scrubbing board, I remember.
The house had a large garden to the front and an equally large grass ‘green’ at the back, with a strip of flower garden at the side. The front was used for growing veg – potatoes, leeks, turnips, cabbage, carrots, as well as rhubarb, rasps & gooseberries – plus strawberries. After dad’s death, the veg was replaced by a flower garden. In the 1960s, for a time, we kept hens, but the co-op stopped this – I believe it was contrary to the lease of the house in some way.
We always seemed to be short of spending money, though there was the obvious benefit of free house, food in the garden, milk from the farm. We had had cars, an MG saloon type in the 1960s, a Vauxhall Cresta, and then in the 1970s, a pretty decrepit Austin A40! Walking, however, was no problem – the town centre was about a mile away. Folk who bought up the cottages on the farm seemed surprised to find us doing this – I found it surprising that they were surprised!
Dad did have the use of farm vehicles. He’d pick me up from school with the farm van sometimes. Now and again he’d borrow a tractor and trailer (never called a ‘bogey’) and we’d go up to Petersmuir sawmill at Saltoun for a load of firewood – shavings off the trees! A saw was rigged up back home to cut wood, powered via the tractor.
Meals were basic – tinned soup, potatoes and tinned meat, pudding – with dad usually being more adventurous in that he’d make a broth or kail soup and, in the evening, boil a selection of veg when they were in season – potatoes, leeks, onions etc. At Xmas we’d get poultry from Hugh Shaw, who was a friend of dad, and dad would cook it himself. Similarly, he’d sometimes get bottles of whisky via the farm, but neither parent drank – myself and my sister have been making up for that since! Up to the late 1970s the co-op vans came to the farms and groceries were generally bought from these. Milk was from the farm. Later, shopping was done in Tranent by mother, who couldn’t drive so it would be a walk there and back – no big deal then.
[In the early 1960s] Home furnishings and decoration were not things my parents bothered with over-much, so this isn’t representative. The walls had paper – perhaps renewed every year, the bedroom’s paper was kept up for longer. I can’t recall what types of patterns – it wasn’t plain, but modest ‘conservative’ pattern. Carpets and linoleum were on the floor – the latter in the kitchen, bathroom and hall, again, basic and functional. In those times, not to have a carpet was to be seen to be poor and therefore not approved of. Bedrooms and the beds were also basic – and uncomfortable – no quilts, just blankets. Ditto furniture – sofa, armchairs, etc. The TV was rented from Granada in Haddington (from the late 1960s) though the radio was more often in use – on the ‘Home Service’ or Radio Scotland followed by Radio Forth when it began, though mostly for its Scots music shows and local news. My parents were not people to jump on a technology bandwagon!
Dad wore dungarees and bonnet and boots – his age group eschewed the farm workers’ use of overalls in the early 1980s. Clothes, I think, were all bought locally in Tranent – McLeish’s in Bridge Street (now Montgomery Optometrist) being the usual place for children/youth clothes, underwear and school wear. Myself, having ‘awkward’ size feet, had a bad time getting footwear locally – they not catering for anything outside the average sizes! By the late 1970s, I would use Edinburgh for shoes, etc – and thereafter for all other clothing: there was more choice and it was cheaper’.
Shops & Services
The story of the Co-op is inextricably bound up, not only with the fabric of the town and the farming round about, but also with its social, moral and political outlook. ‘It is part of the life of the people’ wrote General Manager Mr H. Ross in 1965 (Scotsman 1965 January 19) ‘as the sea, the fertile land and the coal beneath its surface’. Even in death the Co-op remains a major presence, through its funeral services. Look at any guidebook for Tranent during the first half of our period, and you will see the movement’s tentacles – in 1969-70 for example are listed the Co-operative Society, the Co-operative Bowling Club, the Co-operative Women’s Guild, the Co-operative Employees’ Welfare Association, the Co-operative Party and the Co-operative Education Committee.
East Lothian Co-operative Society store, Church Street, Tranent
Tranent Co-op (registered 1865) had been merged with Haddington in 1936 and with Dunbar/West Barns in 1940 to form the East Lothian Co-operative Society, the county’s dominant co-op for most of the period, swallowing all others (also Duns in Berwickshire) apart from Prestonpans and Musselburgh. In 1945 it had 12,000 members and 27 vans on the road, both motor and horse-drawn. One single van’s takings in 1945 amounted to about £7,500 with a driver’s wage a bare 3% of the total.
A comparative study by a visitor from the Swedish Co-operative Union (Hedberg, A. 1945) in that year showed that sales were more than four times those in Sweden, and far exceeded those of any country. The dividend stood at 12.5%. A wide range of social and economic services was provided – for example credit was widely used but strictly controlled, the amount allowed to each member depending on the amount of share capital held by that individual.
Bob McArthur, an employee of the co-op between 1950-early 1990s, recalls the following Co-op shops in Tranent: six grocer shops, one greengrocer, two butcher shops, a bread shop, hairdresser, tobacconist, tearoom (a favourite venue for weddings), drapery, shoe shop, hardware, pharmacy, bakehouse, shoe repair factory, sausage factory (a former pre-war slaughterhouse), creamery and milk depot, and a garage for housing and maintaining a fleet of grocery and fleshing vans.
Bob recalls an event in Tranent drapery department in the early 1950s:
‘It was known locally as the ‘White Elephant’. An old lady collapsed at the now busy shop and an ambulance was called, and help given to her. While they were waiting the lady’s daughter arrived and caused panic to the shop manager, and much amusement to the passers-by and customers by shouting out “But Mother, whit were ye daein’ in the White Elephant onywey?”‘
Ian Downie recalls his years as an apprentice joiner with the Co-op from July 1963 to March 1966:
‘I remember very well going for my interview…at Bridge Street, Tranent. There were dozens of applicants for various apprenticeships – bricklayers, painters, grocers, drapers, butchers and bakers.
In the joinery section there were five tradesmen, one older apprentice and Mr Gray the foreman. The ‘Works Department’ as it was known, included the joinery, bricklaying, masonry, electrical, painting and blacksmiths. The work consisted of the maintenance and refurbishment of the society’s shops, houses, market gardens and farms. When I started, the ‘Store’, as it was known, was in the process of changing their grocer shops from counter service to self-service.
Although most of the tradesmen I worked under were very good at their job, I felt that I needed to broaden my experience. I left to join another Tranent business Robertson & Thomson made up of two Robertson brothers and Davie Thomson who all funnily enough had either served their apprenticeship or had worked with the Co-op at one time or another during their working lives’.
In 1967, (by which time there were 17,414 members), the range of Co-op retailing had extended to household furnishing, outfitting, and a new section dealing in furniture and hardware in the Bridge Street store (Reid, M.S. 1967 no pagination). The same source reports that ‘a great deal of modernisation was carried out recently at the various branches in the town, which are now operating the ‘self-service’ system with some success’. The introduction of self-service is of course one of the key changes in retailing.
The last decades of the century have seen the Co-op shrinking and retrenching. Over-capacity in the town’s shopping centre had been noticeable – for example in 1971 turnover per square foot of retail space in Tranent was £35.7 as against an average of £43.7 across East Lothian. The mobile shops disappeared and progressively the stores have been abandoned and converted to other uses – the Day Centre, Tranent Social Inclusion Partnership and housing. A new parking-friendly supermarket was constructed off the town centre in Haddington Road and opened in 1986. In 2000, the Co-op’s retail empire was reduced to this one grocery supermarket and a petrol station.
The period co-incided with a parallel rationalisation of the societies across Scotland: East Lothian Co-op became part of Border Regional on 25 January 1992. Two days later this became Lothian & Borders; which in turn became Lothian, Borders & Angus on 14 September 1998. Another key change has been the abandonment of the dividend – one of the central planks of mutuality. The Co-op now more closely resembles the other national retail giants, its core philosophy being demonstrated in areas such as ethical investment and fair trade.
High Street, Tranent, early 1970s
In the early 1970s Tranent’s shopping centre was described as ‘the district centre for the western part of the county’ (Nisbet, 1972 p3), but ‘primarily a convenience goods and local services centre’, not competing with Haddington, Musselburgh and Edinburgh for a wider range.
At that time (1972) on a normal weekday there were between 250 and 400 people in the High Street at any one time during the day, of whom 50% were housewives. One third of these people were shopping. ‘Pedestrians’ it was said ‘ display a desire to cross the High Street at random’ despite the fact that 1650 vehicles per hour passed through at peak times. The acceptable level was 300 per hour – which was the level at which 50% of pedestrians would experience delay in attempting to cross the street. Nisbet’s report argues that the street was ‘unpleasant and dangerous for the pedestrian’ but did not favour crush barriers, as ‘the restriction on crossing is psychologically disturbing to the pedestrian’. Bus shelters were noted for their unpleasantness. The launderette on the corner of Bridge Street (still operational in 2000 – one of the few left in East Lothian) ‘acts as a social meeting place’.
Pubs of course fulfilled that social role too. There were six of them in 1945, with the Crown the only hotel. The Railway Inn, Bridge Street, had been owned by the Noble family since 1921 (Haddingtonshire Courier 1921 October 28). It was sold in the 1970s becoming the Brig. The pubs had been largely a men-only venue in the late 1940s. Joe Baxter, interviewed in 1987 (Baxter, 1987) recalled that most of those in the pubs were miners, very friendly (Joe was an outsider at the time) and they played dominoes or darts. In the Plough there was a ‘jug bar’ with only room for a couple of people. Women came there with tin cans with a lid to get drink for their husbands returning from the pit. Interviewed the same year, Robert Glass (Glass, 1987) believed that married women seldom went out until the advent of bingo (which the church opposed on the grounds that it was gambling). ‘Nowadays’ (this was in 1987) ‘they go out to pubs, and go out with their husbands, which was un-thought of then’.
High Street, Tranent, 1994
High Street, Tranent, 1994
A pub interior is described by Jeremy Bruce-Watt in the mid 1960s (Bruce-Watt, 1965)
‘The bar is mostly of wood, painted two shades of orange. It is furnished with bottles and a combined mirror and whisky advertisement which includes a delightful moustachioed Edwardian Highlander. There is also an unprintable joke carved on a wooden panel, a Nativity calendar, and a fruit machine’. Half a pint of beer cost 10d.
Local GP Dr Gilbert Kennedy (in practice 1966-90) recalls that
‘Alcohol consumption was high in mining areas particularly at weekends and this inevitably produced a number of alcoholic and liver problems. The weekend binges often led to fights and resultant trauma requiring suturing or referral for X-rays. We fortunately had excellent support from the local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous’.
High Street shopping in 2000 offered general retail/food outlets, such as four small grocery shops (one included the post office, and there were an extra four outwith the town centre), and three supermarket type outlets (namely Co-op, Kwik Save and Farmfoods), plus three bakers/delicatessen, and one dedicated newsagent (Roberts’) and one other newsagent (also High Street) which also sold some grocery goods as well as alcohol. Three petrol stations sold newspapers and some groceries (but not alcohol).
There were several shops involved in ‘single issue’ commerce, such as shoe repairs (David Hood, Church Street), photographic equipment and cameras (Jim Fallon, Winton Place), electrical goods (Bisset & Steadman, High Street), a jeweller (J. Crighton, High Street), a fishmonger (Thomson, High Street), a launderette (New Row), and a video hire shop (M. & I. High Street). Notable also were two suntan studios, five hairdressers, three household furnishings, goods, toiletries, carpets and floorings, plus two hardware shops. There were two banks – the Royal Bank and Lloyds TSB, and the Dunfermline Building Society.
There were eight public houses (one being a hotel), six licensed clubs, one off-licence (though almost of the supermarkets and grocery shops sold alcohol), one café (though one of the public houses, Whispers, on the High Street, opened early as a café), and two bookmakers (Ladbrokes and Coral, both on High Street). The prize for most romantic name goes to the Whispers Bar in the High Street, which has transmogrified from Pullars of Perth dry cleaning through 16 years as the Arch Restaurant and two as La Gondola before taking its current name.
Of ‘fast food’ outlets, there were two traditional chip shops (both also selling pizzas, kebabs etc), plus three Chinese/Cantonese, two Indian (one also a restaurant), and one, ‘Kopas’ on the High Street, selling Mediterranean foods, pizzas, etc – in all, eight ‘take-away’ food shops in the ‘chip shop’ category. These last two employed more than two people at any time, and the pubs and clubs had two maybe three shifts per day – all these trading seven days a week, of course, so their value to local employment was significant. All offered home delivery.
In Elphinstone, apart from the Miners’ Club, the other licensed premise was the Elphinstone Arms, a public house in Main Street. It had a take away chip shop attached. The only shop was the sub?post office with a grocery shop attached. The main co?op store closed in the early 1980s and was converted into flats. A small newsagents/food shop in Main Street recently ceased trading. The only local business was Cowan’s garage a car?dealership for Fiat cars (previously it was a SAAB dealer).