Our best guess for this one is 1947. It shows the Alford Main Street looking west towards the Haughton Arms Hotel. The photographer must have been standing outside what is today the Royal Bank of Scotland.
I discovered this photo in my mother’s loft. She has no recollection of how it came to be there, when it was taken, or any of the people it shows, but she narrows it to the immediate post-war years based on the fashions and the shops.
Among the interesting buildings are Alexander and Wilson’s chemist shop on the left in the middle distance, which must have sold cigarettes because a “Players Please” sign hangs above the door. It is still Wilson’s the Chemist nearly 70 years later. My recollections of the shop in the 1960s include a wonderful smell of what I now know to be lavender, possibly with a hint of menthol, and row after row of old-style bottles of Latin-labelled potions and powders, and a huge bank of mahogany drawers, each containing medicaments of various kinds.
Mr Wilson, grandfather of the current chemist, was a kindly soul with a twinkle behind his gold-rimmed half-moon glasses. He had a thriving trade in sweeties, and occasionally handed out a free pear drop. I have a vague memory that he always wore a three-piece suit with a fob watch.
On the opposite side of the street is one of the village banks. It became the Clydesdale Bank eventually and sadly shut its doors for the last time in July, 2014, in the latest round of retail banking cuts.
To the right is Willie Stewart’s bakery, with his delivery van parked on the pavement. It was one of two village bakeries for many years, the other run at the other end the village by his brother John. From being a two-baker village, Alford is now a no-baker village. Like many other small communities in North-east Scotland, its shops bring in bakery products daily from larger-scale bakeries in bigger towns.
It’s a shame. There was something special about wandering past a working bakehouse with a warm, yeasty smell of softies and butteries wafting across the road.