THIS week’s trip down West Fife's Memory Lane focuses on one of Dunfermline’s oldest-established businesses, Stephens the Bakers, which was founded in 1873.

It was started by William Stephen, who had lost his job earlier that year as a result of his involvement in a bakers' strike in Dunfermline in his role as union secretary for the Associated Journeymen of Bakers. An advert on the front page of the Dunfermline Press on Saturday, May 17 of that year announced that he “begged to intimate that he has commenced the baking business in that shop in Gibb Street and trusts by keeping bread etc., only of the best quality, to merit a share of public support.”

Gibb Street is now named St Margaret Street and our first photograph shows an early form of transport used by Stephens taken outside the Fratery just up from their original premises. Considerable modernisation of the bakery establishment later took place, guided by the Terris family.

Alexander Terris was the son of a Townhill colliery joiner, and a man of many talents and extraordinary energy and acumen. In his youth, he was a prodigious athlete, being a Powderhall sprinter, an amateur boxer and coach, and a devotee of football and swimming. In addition to working long hours as a baker, he also founded, edited and published a local newspaper called 'The Review', which commenced in 1924.

In 1942, in the thick of the Second World War, Mr Terris purchased the business of Stephens. At that time, it consisted of the bakery and shop at St Margaret Street, two rented shops at High Street and Chalmers Street, plus a horse-van and a motor van. Later years saw considerable modernisation and the growth of production and sales through the addition of a large fleet of vans.

In the mid-fifties, larger shop premises in Chalmers Street were opened and, in 1957, a branch shop was built in the new housing area at Duncan Crescent.

The next photograph shows the Stephens shop in the High Street in the 1950s, flanked at that time by shops such as Baird’s Shoe Shop, John Webster’s Fruit and Flower Shop and the James Bonnar Ironmonger Shop.

Stephens celebrated their 100th anniversary with a special Centenary Luncheon in the Glen Pavilion on Sunday, November 18, 1973, with a congratulatory letter from the Earl of Elgin: “Any family which has managed to keep a continuous bun in the oven for a hundred years deserves a salute”!

Stephens played a major role over the years in the local community, and generations of children will remember them as one of the local companies that provided lunchboxes at the annual Children's Gala. They also contributed to the annual Civic Week Parade and the next photograph shows one of their decorated vans taking part in this event in 1953. A huge amount of time and effort was put into preparing the decorated floats and Ian Terris can be seen in our final photograph preparing their 1953 entry which featured a giant wedding cake marking the Queen’s Coronation that year.

Unfortunately, the cake couldn’t be eaten afterwards as it was built from cardboard cartons and treated with 20 coats of coachbuilders' cellulose to prevent the icing from melting!

More photographs like these can be seen in Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries when it re-opens to the public, and also at 'Old Dunfermline' DVDs are available online from