Thursday 31 July 2008


2 belts from Dundee's school days in the sixties that may make you cringe!
The TEACHER'S used the leather strap as punishment. A wallop on the hands for being a menace in class usually.
The PUPIL'S used the elasticated Snake belt to keep the troosers up. The belt would usually slip up around your belly dragging your shirt out with it!

Wednesday 30 July 2008


As the name suggests, Duck Slattery's Gas Station in South Ward Road was decked out with old American gas station paraphernalia - petrol pumps, vehicle parts, nameplates, oil adverts etc.
I took these snaps in the mid 80's and they show the exterior and interior of the pub.
It's main feature, however, was the front half of a Cadillac hanging on the inside wall above the entrance, as if it had just crashed through the brickwork!
The manager was Jeff Currie and the owner was Alex Brown.
The advert underneath the snaps was published the day before the pub officially opened, which was 13 March 1986.
Later in April that year, they installed the first ever satellite dish in Dundee, and so the pub would show a variety of programmes such as Italian football & American music channels.
The other ad, dating from August 1986, gives a fuller description of the place.
Appropriately, Duck's was a popular stop-off place to get tanked up before hitting Fat Sams next door.

Tuesday 29 July 2008


A good example of the Hansom Cab (aka The Cab) being occupied by under-agers in the mid 70's was when one night a crowd drinking there set off bangers in the pub. The first one was just thrown into a corner area to give everyone a "wee fleg", but as the night wore on they ended up chucking the bangers from one end of the room to the other, like a snowball fight!
Needless to say, by the end of the 70's they clamped down on this sort of thing and made it compulsory to have your birth certificate with you for proof of age.
Photo by DC Thomson.

HANSOM CAB - 1970's

The Hansom Cab, on the corner of Seagate & Commercial St, had a reputation for being a haven for underage drinking in the 70's. For many it was seen as the place to visit as your first "city centre" pub, and it was indeed very easy to get served when aged 16. I suppose it was a rehearsal for the more serious boozing that was to follow in your later years!
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Monday 28 July 2008


Larg's in Whitehall Street, in the 60's, had listening booths near to their record dept. When you wanted to find out what the latest tune in the charts sounded like, they would put the record on the turntable, let you know what booth number it was playing in and in you'd go for a wee listen before deciding whether to buy it or not.
The snap here was taken in Feb 1960 and Anthony Newley was at the #1 spot in the UK charts with his track "Why" for the entire month!

Photo by DC Thomson.

Saturday 26 July 2008


The Caird Hall made it onto the cover of the Radio Times when the film "An Englishman Abroad" was broadcast on BBC - 29th Nov 1983. The cover also shows Alan Bates who played the role of spy, Guy Burgess, in the play written by Alan Bennett. The film was directed by John Schlesinger. They also filmed some scenes inside the Caird Hall and around Exchange Street.


When passing the city centre in the early hours of the morning, drunk after nightclubbing, I noticed these Communist placards up on the Caird Hall.
I remember thinking through my drunken haze that we had either been invaded by the Soviets or that there was a Labour Conference taking place!
Next day I went to check out what was going on and it turned out to be a film in progress. The Caird Hall was being used as a Moscow theatre double in the BBC film "An Englishman abroad".
I stayed for a while and watched them film a couple of scenes - complete with fake snow.


The Ben Sherman checked shirt was incredibly popular in the early 70's, in school & out of school, and the box it came in was as iconic as the shirt itself.
Here's a wee reminder for those who indulged!


There can't have been many teenagers in Dundee in the 60's & 70's who didn't buy clothes from McGill's in Victoria Road. It was a regular stop for items such as school uniforms & sports gear, as well as casual clothes like Wranglers, Sta-Prest, Ben Sherman's, Harringtons, Dr Martens etc.
The clothing & footwear depts were in the store nearest to the Wellgate steps (as in above picture) and their sports dept was opposite, on the corner of Victoria Road & Hilltown.
This image was taken in November 1976.

Photo by DC Thomson.

Friday 25 July 2008


Around the playgrounds and streets of Dundee in the 60's, one of the games girls used to play was ELASTICS.
They would tie dozens of elastic bands together to form a large loop and then they were ready.
2 girls stood opposite each other with the elastic loop around their ankles and a 3rd girl would jump in & out of them, as they did with skipping. There were different moves & different degrees of difficulty - twisting them, hopping in between etc.
After the first ankle level was complete, the elastics would be moved up to knee height, then the waist.
Can't recall now if there were rhymes that went with it too.
Anyway, here below is film of Dundee lassies showing how it's done...although demonstrating that you could also tie the elastics around a lamp-post to play the game.

Thursday 24 July 2008


The Scout in Westport on a good night was one of the best pubs in Dundee and some wonderful weekends were spent there in the late 70's & early 80's.
Humour & music were it's strong points whilst the pub itself was as grimy & basic as they get, and yet if you didn't get in early, there were often lengthy queues.
The pub's closing night occurred in 1982 and was one hell of an evening.
It was at bursting point earlier than normal and the mayhem & sweat was flowing all night! The singing went on all night too - with one of the most popular tunes I recall being Dexy's Midnight Runners classic "Come on Eileen", a song that was balsted out a few times that night and a track I will always associate with The Scout.
In its final couple of hours, everybody was standing up on the seats, tables and counter, singing, dancing, clapping and clowning around until it climaxed with the pub's decor being ripped from the walls by those in the pub wanting a wee souvenir of one of the town's best drinking dens.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Wednesday 23 July 2008


Being in with the first batch of pupils at CHS when it opened in 1970 had its advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, all the classrooms had brand new equipment, all the desks & chairs, science gear, sports stuff and so on - all newly installed - and we had the honour of trying everything out first.
One of the disadvantages was that when CHS opened it's doors to us, some parts of the building were still being built and so these areas were out of bounds. For example, we had to wait many months before the swimming pool was finished and ready for use.

Behind the scenes, they had to have all the staff at the ready as well of course, and here is the original advert for a rector, dated January 1970, which had Mr Scott answer the call!

The picture shows CHS under construction in 1969.

Photo by DC Thomson.


I was in with the very first group of pupils who attended Craigie High School when it opened in 1970.
It was great having the whole place to ourselves without there being any older kids around. However, it did mean we had to start everything from scratch, for example setting up the first football team, hockey team, etc, etc.
Needless to say, living in Craigie brought about the fact that we used to actually play in the area where CHS now stands, when it was just fields and wasteland, so we saw the school being built from scratch too.
This is a picture of it under construction in 1969.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Tuesday 22 July 2008


The top cutting is from a "What's On" page in the Dundee Courier  - an ad for the Bay City Rollers playing at the J.M. Ballroom in the Marketgait on Sunday 12th April '70.
Interesting to see they were gigging in Dundee 4 years before they became famous. In fact The Rollers actually made a promo film in the J.M. in 1970, complete with hired screaming girls! I wonder what has happened to that footage?
The 2nd cutting is from an NME and they continue to be playing at the J.M. This one dated Monday 18th December 1972.
The 3rd cutting is from a Melody Maker music paper and in the gig guide section it has the Bay City Rollers playing at the JM on Monday 29th April '74.
So the band were still active in Dundee even in the year they hit the big time!
Other acts on in 1970 were, The Camera and Pat'r 4 + Three.


Here's an advert that appeared in the Courier in April 1970 for a gig by Fleetwood Mac at the Caird Hall.
The dearest seats were 25 shillings (that's £1.25) with tickets available from the Andy Lothian Organisation in Exchange Street.
There is a footnote on the ad that says main man, Peter Green, was to be leaving the band, but not until AFTER this gig.
Although the support act is displayed as being The John Dummer Band, the group had actually cancelled their appearance by then.

Monday 21 July 2008


The cap rocket was another popular fad in the school playgrounds around Dundee in the 60's.
Made of a plastic body & metal top, an explosive cap was held in place under the spring catch at the tip - the rocket would then be chucked up into the air and because of its heavy top meant that it always landed on it's tip, so making it go bang when it hit the ground! 
Simple, but fun for kids of primary age.
The example above is one I still have!


Popular around the school playgrounds of Dundee in the sixties were "Caps", sometimes called keps. These were sold in rolls (as above) or bought as boxes of individual caps. Caps were used mostly in toy guns to make them go BANG!... but because they were cheap, they were used a lot at school without the need of a gun. One technique was to rip off a strip of about a dozen, place it on the ground and drag your foot across it to trigger a machine gun effect. We also used our thumb nails and stones to get them to explode!

Saturday 19 July 2008


One evening in Foreigners, the bar staff had a wee raffle and were giving away albums, t-shirts and other bits & pieces. Well, I ended up winning a signed original Roger Kettle cartoon. One of his Beau Peep strips. I've held onto it since and here it is above.
Click on the image to enlarge.


Foreigners in Meadowside cropped up on the scene around 1979/80 and became a bit of a regular on my drinking circuit.
Usually choc-a-block Fridays/Saturdays, it had blaring music which was a big attraction for us youthful types, even if it was generally rock music blasting out, which of course meant it wasn't always the most up to date sounds being served up. One thing it always had in its favour though was a good young vibe in the place.
Although it became known as a rock music pub, in its early days there was the odd occasion when they did break away from rock and dipped their toes into the new wave scene.
Simple Minds, Psychedelic Furs, Adam & The Ants, all got rare outings. Also, on Sundays, they put live bands on, sometimes rock based, such as Dundee's Colossus, and sometimes local new wave acts like Megazones and Street Level.
In the main though, they'd pump out rock albums by the likes of Meatloaf, AC/DC, Van Halen and such like, hence their heavy metal reputation.
Keeping the rock music theme going, I remember once, Phil Lynott stopped off to have a drink there before the Thin Lizzy gig at the Caird Hall..!!
Adding to the fun was the pub decor, the walls being absolutely covered in cartoons - all framed originals, the work of Roger Kettle of Beau Peep fame.

Above photos of exterior & interior were taken around the mid 80's.
The article under the snaps was published locally in 1981 and it gives a good general overview of the pub.
The next item was published in 1987 and is about Foreigners changing to new owners (Whitbread).
The advert dates from 1986 and is a reminder of the kind of grub that was on offer.

Click onto the items to read large size.

Friday 18 July 2008


Rock band, Free, visited Dundee for a gig at the Caird Hall on 13 September 1972.
The above music press ad shows the bands tour dates and support act.
Being just a school kid at the time, I wasn't at this show so don't have the lowdown on it, but I do remember later, the Ferry Bar in the mid to late 70's period, played "All Right Now" every week without fail!
So this classic rock tune by Free was still being enjoyed by us younger ones many years after its original release.


The first gig I ever went to was Slade at the Caird Hall - on 1 May 1974 to be exact.
The band were at their peak, I was still at school, and there was a great buzz around the playground with the thought of the band playing in Dundee.
At the Caird Hall there was also fair bit of commotion in amongst the audience as Slade dazzled the fans into a teenage frenzy, so it didn't take long for the crowd to leave their seats and rush to the front of the stage.

This side of it actually made the newspapers next day, as you can see in the cutting above.
Great hearing all their hits live, and the band were so incredibly ears were hissing for days afterwards!
A fantastic introduction to the live music scene.
Also, during the concert they had a "look-a-like contest". 3 guys were plucked out of the crowd and paraded up on stage. The one who got the loudest roar from the audience, won - but the winner was such a spitting image of Noddy Holder, the other 2 didn't stand a chance!
The pictures above are from that very Dundee gig.
The top one has Noddy wearing his familiar disc covered top hat and hooped socks of course, and although Dave Hill is half hidden in the shadows on the right, you can see his "Super Yob" guitar shining bright!
The other shot of the band in Dundee appears to show Noddy having just clapped eyes on the photographer!
I am also somewhere in the crowd near the front but can't pinpoint exactly where!

Thursday 17 July 2008


The corrugated iron rooms of Balerno School no longer exist.
It closed down in the 80's, was demolished in the 90's and now has new housing on the site where it used to be.
Rust In Peace.

Photo by DC Thomson.


What better way to get the ball rolling than to take a trip back to Primary School.
I went to Balerno in the 60's, located on the fringe of Craigie & Douglas. Not exactly a cutting edge design architecturally speaking. Corrugated iron structures cobbled together like large air raid shelters, but despite it's basic construction, it was quite quaint and lots of fun was had.
The above shot shows the school's position on the corner area between Crathie Place and Balerno Street - with the picture taken around 1974.


The idea behind Retro Dundee is to take a look back at Dundee, Scotland, during the 1960's - 1970's - 1980's, this being the time period I lived in town.
I have amassed lots of photos & ephemera from this era and will be putting as many as I can on view here. Many images of the city never seen before, covering various subjects like - school, shops, music, fashion, fads, events, pubs, sport, etc.
So if anyone went to school in Dundee in the 60's & 70's, and spent their youth in town during the 70's & 80's, this will bring back a few memories. Should be a good laugh too!!
I'll go set the time-machine for the 60's to get things started...
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.