Larbert Superstore

for Falkirk & District United Co-operative Society Ltd, Main Street

In the 1930s the Falkirk and District United Co-operative Society embarked upon the construction of a series of superstores – large shops incorporating all of its sales areas or “departments.”  Larbert had long been promised such a facility and the branch finally opened on 18 July 1931.  J G Callander, in the name of the architect and contractors, presented Bailie Logan with an inscribed gold key.  The two-storey building cost in the region of £16,000. 

Illus: Larbert Co-op looking south-east.

The ground floor was divided into two portions housing the “provision” and the “soft and hard goods” departments.  Provisions included the bakery, grocery, meat and dairy stores – kept and displayed in modern hygienic conditions.  The walls, which were a feature of the building, were finished in terrazzo, a marble-like substance, which helped to keep them clean.  The displays were of the self-service or open-store system which was then very much in its infancy.  The soft and hard goods consisted of the drapery, outfitting and hardware departments.  At the rear of the stores were large despatch, store and cold storage rooms, as well as retiring rooms for the staff.

On the upper storey was a large hall which could accommodate 350 people.  There were numerous ante-rooms and kitchen accommodation.  A lesser hall was used for board meetings.  The building was heated by hot water with radiators and pipes.  A “robot” boiler automatically controlled and provided hot water for the sinks and wash basins.

Illus: The Pediment with decorative detailing.

The street frontage consisted of large plate glass windows set in bronze frames on the ground floor with an ornate square entrance at the west end to access the upper floor.  The shallow stone base below the windows is of grey granite which extends part of the way up the dividing pillars at the east end of the façade.  The first floor has ten regularly displaced windows with moulded surrounds, their sills set in a continuous string course, against a polished ashlar background.   The pale stone makes it look light and airy.  A moulded eaves course carries the short parapet capped by a chunky moulded cope course.  These last two courses are interlinked at intervals by cylindrical bundles of rods in high relief.  The detailing is of high quality and extends to the Art Deco bronze ventilation covers.

Illus : Art Deco Ventilation Covers – large ones under the first floor windows and small ones in the granite base

Contractors – Mason and Brick work – J Murdoch & Co, Stenhousemuir; Joiner work – Henry Bain, Stenhousemuir; Slater work – James K Millar;, Falkirk; Plumber work William K MacLaren, Larbert; Plaster and Cement works – James K Millar, Falkirk; Glazier work – D O’May Ltd, Falkirk; Lath work – William Harley, Falkirk; Electrical work – Thomas J Irvine, Falkirk; Steel work – P & W MacLellan Ltd, Glasgow; Granite, Tile and Terrazzo works – Galbraith & Winton Ltd, Glasgow; Heating work – Mackenzie & Moncur Ltd, Edinburgh; Causeway work – T N Hunter, Falkirk; Metal Windows – Crittall Manufacturing Co Ltd, Glasgow; Extruded Bronze work of Shop Fronts – Charles Henshaw, Edinburgh; Shop Fronts, Shop Fittings, and Counter – Archibald Hamilton (shopfitters) Ltd, Glasgow; Refrigerators – Electrical Refrigerators & Appliances Ltd, Glasgow

G. B. Bailey, 2021