Thursday 18 December 2008


In keeping wi' abody else, I'm gonna have a wee xmas break. So no more posts till January.
A big THANKS for all your comments. Good to know you're enjoying looking back at Dundee life during the 60s,70s & 80s.
Any newcomer to Retro Dundee who is not too sure of the layout, here's a wee guide:
When you visit the blog, not all the material will be on view, you will only see a few of the most recent posts on the page. To view ALL the items, go to the "BLOG ARCHIVE" to the left of the posts and click on any month to view that months material and scroll through them.
If you want to leave a message, there is a small "COMMENTS" feature at the bottom right of each post, again just click onto it if you have something to say.
Those of you who are regulars, my break might be a good time for you to backtrack over the older posts again to read the comments. There are a lot of amusing ones as well as many with added extra info.
I've still got loads of stuff to put stay tuned and I'll be back in full flow early January.

Wednesday 17 December 2008


Aaaaaahhh..!! Affy bonnie. This looks kind of cosy and quaint now, but this is how they went about switching the christmas lights on in Dundee in the early 80's. Just a bit of a pyrotechnics.

Tuesday 16 December 2008


What Santa didn't like about Dundee in the 70's was, having to change his outfit in every housing estate he visited - just to be on the safe side!
Here he is during a trip to Fintry in 1973.

Monday 15 December 2008


Back in the 70's, when I used to get music papers every week, one of the things that cropped up regularly in the small ads were addresses to Fan Clubs. That said, I didn't really have any notion to join any because I didn't devote myself to any band in particular or even any music genre - I was open to all.
However, I still had the curiosity niggling away at me thinking about what kind of correspondence I would get if I did join one.
So in 1977, I decided to subscribe to a new club on the scene that I spotted called 'Friends Of Peter Gabriel', which sounded a bit more intimate than the usual fan club. In return I got regular newsletters containing tour date info, recording updates, special offers, merchandise, that kind of thing, which I rather liked because much of stuff was way before music papers got hold of it, and so it was fun to be one step ahead of the media!
One item I got which was a nice surprise was a Christmas card from Peter himself.
Here it is above - a rather surreal kind of illustration with "Here Comes The Flood" on it, referring to one of his tracks.
Inside, of course, it has his hand written greeting.
Much of the correspondence I got also came with an ink rubber stamp of the postal address - as on the record sleeve of a single I purchased shown above.
So it was all quite enjoyable at the end of the day, but now that my curiosity had been satisfied, I didn't feel the need to re-subscribe the following year.
It was just a one-off thing.
It's probably a good bet that I was the only one in Dundee who got a card from Peter that year!

Sunday 14 December 2008


Between the ages of 12 and 15 in the early 70's, the TV programme that we always talked about in Dundee's school playgrounds was Top of The Pops. A show you didn't dare miss. Whether we were playing 2-touch in the culdee or hanging around the chip shop, we would all stop what we were doing and rush home every Thursday evening to catch the latest episode. At Craigie High, like most schools, we all had our favourite groups scrawled all over our jotters and bags. Pure pop fun.
Below are 2 original TOTP intros, for a wee bit of nostalgia. First one is from '71 and the second from'74. As you'll see there was more than Glam Rock bands on offer with there being a fair smattering of Rock and Soul acts in the charts too.

Saturday 13 December 2008


These 3 ads for Andy Lothian's ALP Records were all published around summer / autumn in 1966.
The releases were kind of split into 2 categories - the pop/blues/folk/jazz stuff and the traditional Scottish material.
Some Dundee acts were involved needless to say - The Poor Souls, Peter & Alison, John Huband and Andy Lothian too.
ALP hooked up with Polydor Records and got a good deal with them running the behind the scenes activity - management, promotion, publicity, advertising, distribution etc.
The first record put out on ALP was by The Red Hawks which got to number 1 in Radio Scotland's pop chart, and it also made it into Radio London's top 40.
At the time of the adverts, the latest ALP release was by trendy Glasgow band, Studio Six.

Friday 12 December 2008

QUEEN - CAIRD HALL - 13th DEC 1975


33 years ago today, Queen were rockin' the Caird Hall... and a gig I was at.
Bohemian Rhapsody was at #1 in the charts at the time and that was the song they opened the show with. The Caird Hall lights were turned off, and out of the darkness a loud mystery voice was heard announcing..."Ladies & gentleman, welcome to a night at the opera"... then out blasted the middle operatic sequence from Bohemian Rhapsody. It was still pitch dark as we listened to the familiar song without the band being present, then as the song progressed it eventually reached the famous guitar riff segment, and out burst Queen onto stage, complete with exploding flash bombs. Quite an intro!
Needless to say they kept these kind of theatrics going throughout the rest of the show.
The items above are the original ticket stub and music paper ad from back then.
Below is a recording from this very concert. 2 tracks in fact with Dundee getting a couple of shout-outs during the chat to the audience.


Before the more popular quilted Anorak's and Parka's arrived in the mid 60's, the winter coats most often worn by kids in Dundee were - the black Trench coat and the navy blue Duffle coat. I never had both but I definitely had a navy Duffle with the inside of the hood tartan lined. I remember one winter when we were having a sna'ba' fight, I had my Duffle coat hood up when somebody threw a snowball at me and it shot between the gap at the side of my face and inside edge of the hood, got trapped in the back of the hood then ended up rolling down the back of my shirt! Brrrrr!
I wouldn't be surprised if Health & Safety have banned snowball fights now for being too dangerous!
Photo by the Scotsman.Tints by GG.


Dundee's "floating pub" was a very short lived novelty. In business only for a few months in 1982. The Balmoral (the boats former name) was modified to become The Inn At The Quay around spring 1982 and it sat at Craig Pier, beside the Leisure Centre. It was a good wee pub to visit in the summer months because you could sit out on deck and take in the warm lighty nights. Everytime I was there it was always a young crowd on board and I'm fairly sure it had dj's on at weekends. The funnel had an image of a "key" on it which was a wee bit of visual humour - key/quay. You could say it was an INN joke..!!
I remember in August that year, I arrived back in town after a 4 week tour of France and as soon as I stepped out of the rail station, the Quay was the first place I headed for, then it was straight up to the Deep Sea for some proper food..a puddin' supper!
By winter the floating pub had shut.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Thursday 11 December 2008


A little glimpse inside David Low's Sport shop in June 1972, the golf department being on the upper level.
Apart from all the obvious golfing equipment in the foreground, also on display are items such as (on the shelves above the assistant) boxes of "BIFFIT" sets, a Slazenger sports bag and a "Clock Golf" box, which was a putting game for the garden. Tucked away in the right-hand corner you'll find hats, gloves and golf balls.
My trips to the shop were 9 times out of 10, visits to the ground floor department where they had all the football goodies. Kits, boots, scarves etc. It was also a very handy shop for getting football match tickets. Even when Cup games were advertised in newspapers as being sold out, the shop managed to conjure up tickets from under the counter, which was a real life-saver sometimes!!
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Wednesday 10 December 2008


I remember being taken along to Santa's Grotto in department stores like D.M Browns, Draffens & G.L Wilsons (photo above) as a wee lad in the 60's.
The one thing about it I can recall most is that us primary kids applied a bit of know-how to the situation.
Santa's sacks of gifts were seperated into different age groups. Something like Under 5's, 5 to 7's and 8 to 10's. We noticed the pressies were bigger & better the higher the age group. So when it was time to chat to Santa, instead of telling him our correct age, 7 for example, we'd say we were 8, and he'd take something out from the appropriate sack!
Well it was the difference between getting a water pistol or a Luger with a silencer!
Photo by Dundee University.Tints by GG.

Tuesday 9 December 2008


Better get yer hankies oot..!!
As a special wee treat for Christmas, here is Dundonian, Billy Mackenzie singing a weepy festive song called "The little boy that Santa Claus forgot".
Billy was in The Associates, and it was 24 years to the day that the band performed this song at Londons top jazz venue, Ronnie Scott's. This is the actual recording from that session on 9th December 1984, along with general footage from the gig in the video below.
The song itself was composed way back in the early 50's.

Monday 8 December 2008


I was always impressed with this piece of work every time I saw it.
The 30ft long Dundee Panorama Mural was made from cut-out copper panels and hung in the foyer area of Telephone House in Ward Road.
It was created by John Shields and Joe Millar who were lecturers in Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.
These 2 images, taken on 7th April 1976, show the full panorama in the top picture and a close-up of the central section below it.

Sunday 7 December 2008


This is a section of the Craigiebank shops located on Arbroath Road near the Kingsway circle. The picture was taken in December 62 and the shops in the image, starting at the far end corner, are :
DPM - Dairy
Patterson - Butcher
Yeaman - Newsagent
Post Office
MacFarlane - Chemist, Optician & Photography.
These are the local shops I went to throughout the 60s & 70s. I remember the Post Office sold wee kids knick-knacks such as plasticine, crayons, magic slates and stuff like that. One of my favourites when aged about 4 was Magic Painting Books. They were just plain white pages with simple illustrations drawn on but when you filled in the illustrations using a brush dipped only in water, the colours would appear on the page, like magic!
The other aspect of the picture is the wee boy with the ball. I used to take a ball along to the shops too. The idea being to skillfully keep the ball on the pavement away from the road. When a pedestrian was coming towards me, I would imagine it was an opposition player and play a 1-2 off the wall as I ran past them, pretending to be Pele!
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Saturday 6 December 2008


The Wellgate waterfall was installed in 1978. It was constructed of 2 curtains of plastic wires down which trickled water into a pool below. There were also 3 small fountains shooting water upwards in-between the 2 main curtain cascades, and the whole installation was illuminated by coloured spotlights set in the base of the pool.
As the water feature became the focus of attention, people started to throw coins into the pool like a wishing well, and every so often the pool would be dredged with the money going to charity.
The surrounding plants increased in quantity as time passed by until it eventually took on it's oasis-like appearance above, which was taken on 30th November 1986.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Friday 5 December 2008


Not a full house for this gig on 8th October 1979 but it was still quite lively!
Buzzcocks did come up with a few punk-pop classics in their day it has to be said and it was great to hear these gems blasting out live in the Caird Hall.
The crowd at the front of the stage were pogoing and gobbing like it was a punk gig from 1977 but the support band, Joy Division, was proof that alternative music had moved on to the next phase - it being almost 1980 and now time for the post punk/new wave era.
I can remember hearing the awesome electric drum on "She's Lost Control" and thinking how futuristic this Joy Division track sounded. I can still conjure up the image of Ian Curtis doing his agitated dance movements in my mind!
I used to have the Caird Hall poster for this gig on my wall too, printed in maroon & yellow colours. The poster did have Joy Division as the support act on it, whereas the ticket doesn't give them a name-check at all.
Unfortunately, I ended up chucking the poster out when I moved house, so my ticket stub is all I can display on Retro!

Thursday 4 December 2008


The Odeon was a picture house I used to go to occasionally rather than regularly. Main reason being it was at the other end of town to where I lived and it needed 2 buses to reach it. It was probably the plushiest of Dundee's cinemas though, from what I can remember of the 1960s/70s period.
A part of the build up to the main movie features were of course the Pearl & Dean adverts on screen, and here below are a couple of original P&D ads from the late 60s/early 70s era to transport you back in time!

Wednesday 3 December 2008


John Menzies moved across the road into these premises in Murraygate in the early 80s, the store having been vacated by Woolworths. Everything was on ground level this time, with the above record department at the far end of the shop. On the left is the Computer section and on the right were wall racks of cassettes and audio accessories.
This picture was taken in December 1985 and in amongst the album racks under "S" are - Shakin' Stevens, Status Quo, Simple Minds, Soft Cell, Saxon, Supertramp, Rod Stewart, Savage Progress & Small Faces.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Tuesday 2 December 2008


I never thought I'd be able to put the top photo to good use but seeing as I mentioned Bruce's carrier bags in the previous post, I've decided to plonk it on here.
It's a John Menzies carrier bag and this is me arriving home with yet another album - picture was taken in 1975.
And just what LP is lurking inside?
Well it was a brand new release back then - Led Zeppelin with "Physical Graffiti".
The slogan on the carrier is - IT'S IN THE BAG.
The example underneath it is another JM record department carrier bag, this time from the 1980's.


Bruce's opened their record shop in Reform Street in December 1974.
This was the 7th Bruce's shop to open in Scotland.
The interior was designed around a curves & coves theme and had a coffee & cream colour scheme.
When you entered the shop the curved counter was on the right-hand side and the rest of the shop space was record racks and cassette displays.
In the middle of the floor there was the latest record rack design called the "wedding cake" - a 2 tier circular rack which was illuminated.
The shop also had concealed lighting, a listening booth and the usual music related paraphernalia on the walls.
They had an active disco service too and were Dundee's only seller of import records from America and the continent.
John Preston, who used to work with Decca, was the first manager who had 4 permanent staff & 2 part-timers working for him.
A couple of years later, Jim Stewart took over as manager.
The shop itself had a recessed doorway with a bronze effect look.
It had a main round window and would display record sleeves, the shops "album & single of the week" and such like.
In the other showcase window near the doors they would put up the latest chart list each week.
Every Friday, as soon as I got my wages, I was down to Bruce's like a shot and headed straight to the "new releases" rack.
I can also remember the time when all of Dundee's record shops banned the Sex Pistols album when it first came out, but Bruce's, being more hip, had improvised a huge sign in their shop window stating proudly that they had the album in stock. I think the record sold out that same day!
Goodness knows how many records I ended up buying from there in total but these are the bag designs I brought them home in.

Bruce's Record Shop now has its own website - go visit Bruce's Record Shop

Monday 1 December 2008


Another quirky little item I can remember from 60's childhood is transfers. I don't recall ever buying them from shops, they just seemed to be items I got "free". I got them out of comics and from the rag man who used to drive his van around Dundee's housing schemes for jumble. There were usually around 10 transfers on a sheet of paper and what you did was, cut out one of the images, wet your arm or back of hand (usually by licking), place the transfer onto the wet patch, hold into position for about a minute then peel off the back paper to reveal the image on your body like a tattoo. They were usually pictures of rockets, birds of prey, sportsmen and soldiers. The transfer above is an original unused one from the 60's which was too precious to waste my saliva on!

Sunday 30 November 2008


A familiar figure in Scottish football in the 70's & 80's was Dundonian ref, Bob Valentine. Along with all his weekly appearances in the top League games, he also took part in major tournaments such as the World Cup in 1978 & 82 and the Euro's in 1984 & 88.
Despite this hectic schedule he was actually a DC Thomson employee and worked in Meadowside casing dept.
The ball he is holding in the picture is signed by Pele!

Saturday 29 November 2008


Not the clearest of pictures, but what I like about it is the gear the school boys have which is of typical of the time. The omnipresent quilted blue anorak and the ubiquitous football team sports bag.
The photo was taken in Lochee on April 1970 when 4 teams from Charleston Celtic left Dundee to play games down South. 2 teams went to the Newcastle area and the other 2 travelled to Newmarket.
Feel free to click on the image to enlarge/download if you think you can identify anyone.

Friday 28 November 2008


Watt's in the old Wellgate, was a shop that sold electrical goods and music items.
The advert displaying their TV service dates from the late 60's.
Like Larg's in the 60's, Watt's had a record counter as well as listening booths, and this is where I bought my first ever 7 inch single.
Pride of place goes to The Turtles with "She'd Rather Be With Me" and it cost 6/8d in old money (about 33p!). That was back in 1967 when I was 9 years old.
The lower image is a reminder of the shop's paper record bag.
As you can tell by the rubble in the top image, the photo was taken shortly after the cease trading notice which was published in May 1972, when the old Wellgate was being knocked down to make way for the present one.
The shop to the right of Watts is John Temple the gents tailors.


Radio Tay began broadcasting across the local airwaves on the morning of 17th October 1980. The station's opening announcement was made by Gerry Quinn who also had the honour of playing the first ever record.
Here below is that very first introduction to the new station, complete with debut jingle!

Thursday 27 November 2008


There was an obscure wee TV programme back in 1972 called "The Young Idea".
It was all about youngsters from around the UK who had unusual hobbies or interests.
Strangely, it was broadcast around 2:30 in the middle of the afternoon, so most kids would still be at school and not see it!
Anyway, the show came to town in July 1972 and based themselves at the Royal Hotel.
Not sure if they actually did the filming from here (like the Antiques Roadshow) or if they were just scouting around for material to be included in future episodes.
It would have been far too early to have a collection of records by The Jam, but maybe some kid had a collection of Dundee jam jars!
If anyone can remember any Dundonian who made it to the TV programme itself, feel free to pass on the details in the comments.
Let's find out what those unusual hobbies were!

Wednesday 26 November 2008


I used to really like going to Larg's in Whitehall Street. I always made a beeline for the basement to gape at all the guitars hanging up on the wall, the drum kits on the floor and the amps in their wee room. Always ended up buying more plectrums than I could use when schoolboy age.
Another room in the basement area sold racks of sheet music.
Upstairs there was a roomful of electric organs and another area that sold electrical goods & records.
Underneath the photos is a reminder of the record dept.'s carrier bag with a keyboard design on it.
Below that is an advert for the shops range of amplifiers.
The reason they were highlighting the fact that The Beatles used Vox was because the ad was published in the local press on the night the Fab 4 were playing at the Caird Hall in October 1963.
In 1976, I made quite a major purchase now that I was a wage-earner. I bought a very expensive hi-fi. Huge wooden speakers made in Norway with a very powerful amp and top quality turntable. The amazing thing is, it's the same one I still use today. I have of course added lots of modern extras to the stack since but over 3 decades later, the Larg's hi-fi still gets played on a daily basis!

Tuesday 25 November 2008


Goldberg was a clothing shop the size of a department store and was to be found at 11 Murraygate, near the corner of Commercial Street where John Menzies were.
It was quite short-lived at this spot really, just there during the early 70's to mid 70's period.
Unlike other department stores, it didn't just sell standard everyday style clothes, it was actually surprisingly fashionable gear they had. The gents/boys dept was upstairs and items I can remember getting from here for example were a yellow & white paisley pattern shirt, psychedelic kipper tie and 2-tone trousers!
Still being at school however, meant I was only allowed to wear this kind of groovy stuff at weekends!
The ad from '72 says Goldbergs with an "S" but the shop front says Goldberg without the "S" - so take your pick! 

Monday 24 November 2008


This is an NME review of Paul Haig's gig at Fat Sams - the gig taken place in August 1986.
I was at this one, me already being familiar with Paul live, having seen him play with Josef K in Edinburgh a few years before.
I can't recall too much from the Fatties set list other than he did perform all my favourite tracks from "The warp of pure fun" album (which I've still got on vinyl).
Staying on the fun theme...although this was a Paul Haig gig and NOT a Haig/Mackenzie gig, needless to say Billy Mackenzie did make an appearance and sang a couple of tunes. In between tracks, Billy pointed to Pauls fluffy cropped hairstyle and commented "He's got a head like a squeaky ba'" then pretended to squeeze it. Pure fun...and a good night had by all.
To read the review, click on the image to enlarge or download.

Sunday 23 November 2008


The Seahorse up the Hulltoon wasn't my local chip shop but this advert from 1976 reminded me that I used to pop in there quite a lot efter the futba on Saturdays & Wednesdays back in the 70's.

Saturday 22 November 2008


I remember a lot of us wearing Wayfinders at Balerno school in the mid 60's. They appealed to primary aged kids because they were shoes with 2 novelties for the price of one. The first obvious one was the animal track soles for identifying various animal footprints. The second not so obvious novelty was a hidden working compass in the inside heel which needed the wearer to lift a wee round lid to get to it. The idea behind them was to encourage kids to have outdoor adventures, but the problem was, in order to see the animal tracks we had to stomp around in the mud which then lead to a bit of bother from parents when we came back home with messy shoes! Ok for snow unless they were bought in summer which usually meant the sole would be worn away by the time it snowed! Still good fun though.
I also seem to recall they came with a free wall chart or a booklet all about animal tracks.

Friday 21 November 2008


In the early 80's, the decision was made to regenerate the Blackness area which had become rather dilapidated by then. One of the ways they used to attract attention to the buildings was to use art. The example above was one of the many projects to catch the publics eye. These Dundee transport themed panels in Bellfield Street were the creation of Kenny Munro, and were made using silk screen prints on tiles.
I took this photo of the car in 1985.

Thursday 20 November 2008


Brian Sherriff's shop at 93 Victoria Road was THE place to go to get Airfix models and radio control cars. Just looking in the shop window was fun, seeing all the ships, planes and vehicles. It had everything you needed for model making, the kits, spare parts, wee pots of paint and transfers. It's heyday was the 60's when it was as popular with dads as it was with kids.
The above picture was taken in the mid 70's when it closed down to make way for new development on the site. The wee side street with the big incline is Idvies Street.

Wednesday 19 November 2008


This is how the ABC in the Seagate looked back in the days when cinema's only had one screen.
I used to visit it quite regularly in the 60's & 70's.
Whenever there were real big blockbusters on, the queues used to stretch way past Gellatly Street car park.
Another thing that I recall was when we were still at school, aged around 15/16, we used to get the bus into town at half-fare, then go see an X film!
A double victory for school kids!!
That was the only way to see Bruce Lee in action because videos hadn't been invented.
In the photo above is a full length animation called "A Boy Named Charlie Brown", along with the advert published in the local press in April 1971.
It just so happens I have the movie in my collection. So below is a quick view of the intro for all those who would like a wee trip back in time.
By the way, the other film on with it is "Our man Flint".
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.