Superstore, Main Street

for Camelon Co-operative Society Ltd

Most of the local co-operatives had started by selling groceries and slowly the stocks and range increased.  To meet demands additional departments were added for footwear, ironmongery, household items and so on.  The extra departments might be housed in extensions to the original premises, or in shops some distance away.  By 1910 this was considered to be an inconvenient arrangement and there was a move to unite the various sections under one roof called a “super store.”  Today we would probably call it a supermarket. 

The co-operative movement led the way in these large stores and up and down Scotland large new shops of the latest design were erected, greatly improving the appearances of the high streets.  The new store at Camelon was in the spirit if this new age – an imposing, attractive and prestigious beacon of commerce.

Illus : Falkirk Herald photograph of Camelon Co-op on the day of opening, May 1913.

The ground floor consisted of a spacious drapery shop facing the Main Street and the Hedges.  The Drapery Department was a large and beautifully lighted shop of about 70ft by 30ft.  Its interior was fitted up with a polished mahogany island counter with a glass front and top for display of all kinds of articles, and a beautifully carved centre fitting for the accommodation of fancy materials.  To the west of the drapery department was the outfitting shop in the same style with waiting, fitting and cutter’s room.  A hoist ran between the cutter’s room and the tailor’s workrooms. The cash office and dairy were situated to the south of the feu with a large covered-in court at the rear, and a small bakery adjoining. 

Illus : The Camelon Superstore.

All the walls of the dairy were tiled from floor to ceiling with an artistic design with a painted tiled frieze of local views.  The working part of this section had an up-to-date refrigerating machine and cold store, the latest pasteurizer, milk separator, butter worker, and churn, all driven electrically.  Access to the millinery and mantle showrooms and boot department on the first floors was from the drapery department by a handsome marble staircase of “exquisite” design with French polished panelled sides 5ft high, having a well-proportioned pediment over the entrance with carved and fluted columns at each side.

Millinery and mantle showrooms, boardroom and offices comprised the first floor.  The showrooms were fitted with the latest pattern of glass-fronted cases, with trays for holding blouses, etc., each tray being made to lift out.  J G Callander designed all of the decorations and fittings.  The tailoring and dressmaking workrooms occupied the top flat and were large, well-ventilated and well-lighted.  The sewing machines were all electrically driven.

In the late 1970s the stone parapet wall was replaced by a slated wallhead and the domed corner feature, the finials and the tops of the pilaster were removed, badly affecting the aesthetics.

Illus: Camelon Co-op Building in 2021.

Contractors – Mr Greig from Kirkcaldy acted as the Master of Works on what was a complex building.  Mason work – John Gardner; Joiner work – J & A Main; Slater work – Drummond & Crowe; Plaster and Cement work – David NcNair; Plumber work – George Campbell; Steel work – Redpath, Brown & Co Ltd, Glasgow; Lath work – D Buchan; Glazier work – Bailie & Telfer, Glasgow; Granite work – William Roberts & Sons; Tile work – James Duncan Ltd, Glasgow; shop fronts – D Grant, Edinburgh; electrical work – T Laurie & Co; Painter work – James Marshall; Heating work – J Cormack & Sons Ltd, Glasgow; Motors – General Electric Co Ltd, Glasgow; Dairy Plant – William Douglas & Sons, London.

Camelon Co-operative Store    SMR 2027       NS 8708 8041

G.B. Bailey, 2021