THE photographs in this week’s trip down West Fife’s Memory Lane look at a street that no longer exists in Dunfermline, Randolph Street.

The first photograph is of the junction of Queen Anne Street and the top of Randolph Street as viewed from Chapel Street. The equivalent outlook today would be from the south-west corner of the new bus station stretching down over the grassy gap site onto the High Street.

There were Co-operative shops on either side of the street as recalled by Linda Mason: “I remember it well. Co-op shops on the left side, drapers, shoes etc. Used to get my school shoes there as there was only one place that had ‘Start Rite’ shoes for flat fleet – you had to put your feet in a measuring machine to make sure of a right fit. Horses were kept on the right-hand side for the Co-op milk carts. The office was upstairs where the ‘dividend’ was collected. I had my wedding reception in the Unitas Hall in 1973.”

Dunfermline Co-operative Society was founded in 1861 and for a hundred years played a major role in the shopping life of the town's inhabitants. The ‘dividend’ referred to was a scheme that gave a share of the company’s profits annually to its customers – an early forerunner of many such schemes in operation today.

Mary Melville, like many people brought up in Dunfermline, remembers how important that was and how long the memory of their individual five-digit Co-op number stayed with her: “I had even forgotten that Randolph Street had ever existed even although it was a major part of my life. The dividend – I can still remember 20538 but can hardly remember my telephone number. You forgot your dividend number on pain of death!”

The next photograph is of midway down Randolph Street looking down towards the High Street. The buildings in view on the High Street, including the large painted ‘Restaurant’ sign, are still there today, close to where Johnston Butchers have their shop.

The ‘Unitas Hall’ in the street provided a venue for a wide range of events including weddings, as recalled by Effie Gemmell: “I used to go to Scottish Country Dancing classes in Randolph Street while still at school – that would be around 1954. In around 1964, I remember queuing up here for the store dividend. In between, we had our wedding reception in the Unitas Hall – some will remember the lovely tea rooms where delicious meals were served at your table by lovely ladies wearing black and white outfits, and white covers on the tables – happy days.”

The next photograph shows the range of foods the Co-op provided – very basic and limited by today’s standards – in their shops in Dunfermline.

The final photograph is of one of the Co-op horse-drawn delivery vehicles out and about on the streets of Dunfermline.

More photographs like these can be seen in the Local Studies department of Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries and also at

With thanks to Frank Connelly.