Wednesday, 18 February 2009


The above photo was taken in 1982, so this would have been a kind of last glimpse of John Menzies corner spot before moving to the opposite side of the Murraygate into Woolies old premises at the tale end of 1983.
As an added bonus, below you'll find a reminder of the Galaxian machines Menzies had on the stair landings.
Incidentally, at the time of this photo, there was also an Amusement Arcade next door to JM's that no doubt had the sound of Galaxians blasting out all day long too!
Photo by DC Thomson.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you...I was one of the "co" who requested this picture. However, I believe you're out by a year in terms of the shop closing - it moved into the building vacated by Woolworths (RIP) in late 1984 - I'd been trying to find out when it moved for ages, until I confirmed it in the Courier archives at the Central Library.

    Searching through those archives also took me back to an event in April 1983, when the "General Lee" made a visit to the Murraygate (see here for more details: I was 6 at the time, and went to see it with my mum, her pal, and her son. I can clearly remember being squashed in the rush to touch the famous Dukes of Hazzard car, totally unaware it was probably someone's old Ford Cortina that they had resprayed orange.

  2. Another classic!

  3. I have had a really B A D day today, but you know what, it has all been made 100% better by that photo and the clip of the Galaxian machine. Many, many thanks!

    The pic is absolutely circa my time there.
    I used to nip out at lunchtimes to phone the 'lad' and he would come and meet me at the staff side door (you can just see the edge of it on the far right of the photo) at 5.30 on a Saturday.

    Not sure about the cafe when it was Menzies(there was a staff canteen though). Before it was Menzies it was Smith Brothers and there was an old fashioned tea room on the 2nd Floor. I remember being put in a high chair while my mum and granny had tea and cakes. Many years later I when I was working in Menzies I was sent to the 2nd Floor store room and lo and behold, the tearoom was still there. Windows bricked up but the wood panelling and curtains still in tact and the wee cashier's booth, some furniture AND a couple of high chairs were still there. Oooh freaky!

    Parr's the hairdressers had a salon on, I think, the 4th floor.

    Again...many thanks...happy memories.

  4. On a slightly different note, can anyone identify the name of the shop reflected on the corner window? You can just see the "Lo" from the signage (and possibly a P/B and a couple of smaller E's), but I can't make out the rest of it.

    Seriously, this photo has made my entire week. Although I was very young when JMs was based on the corner, I can clearly picture being in the toy department with my late granny and grandad, particularly around Christmas time, when it was like being in a sweety shop. I can clearly remember the "new" JMs along the Murraygate, but it didn't give me the same thrill!

    I've also mentioned this before, but I bought my very first LP from this store (Bucks Fizz's Greatest Hits - I'm not proud) and, as I mentioned in my earlier post, got to touch the General Lee (otherwise known as wee Jim's orange Cortina, probably) outside.

  5. I had a photograph of the Record Department in the old Woolworth Store sent to me by my son, and it has brought back a load of wonderful memories for me. I was General Manager of both the old 1-9 Murraygate store and the other one - Woolies store from 1975 - 1988 , after which I became an area manager - a move I regret to this day ( except that it helped the pension ). I was very lucky with my staff, the majority of whom stayed with the Company during the whole of my remit there. Whilst assistant managers came and went ( mostly for promotion ) the department managers were with me pretty well all the time - and a great team they were - they worked hard and played hard. My staff manager , too, was with me for fourteen years, and still keeps in contact with my wife and I, even though we are now long time retired.

    The 1-9 Murraygate store was by far the best, I fought hard to prevent the move to the Woolworth store as I knew it could never match 1-9, where we had major departments throughout the three trading floors , plus Parrs Hairdressers on the fourth floor. The thinking at the time was that 1-9 needed a new roof, as we had frequent floods, and, besides, W.H.Smith were hunting for a site in Dundee and the Company were frightened they would get the Woolworth site. It was far more expensive in rental terms , although less costly in staffing, but the atmosphere there was nothing like the old store . Just last month I was having lunch with the retired director who made the decision to move and he (at last ) admitted it had not been a successful move.

    If you would like more information on the JM stay in Dundee, please get in touch.
    Posted by GCBetty at 12:43

  6. Pleased to see the John Menzies photo is bringing back pleasant memories.
    As an added bit of info, a reminder that before John Menzies moved into the Murraygate/Commercial St corner in the mid 70's, they had a book shop at 8 Whitehall Street and a book stall down at the Rail Station.

  7. How wonderful to read Mr Betty's post.
    I have the most fantastic memories of working in 1-9 Murraygate and without trying to sound too "crawly" nice memories of Mr Betty and Mrs Clow.

  8. I remember we used to argue over how the name should be pronounced.
    It was either John Menzies, or John Mingis.
    I used to call it Menzies, but at the same time would refer to Menzieshill as Mingis hill.

  9. AND it was 2nd to none in their stock of subuteo! camera men and athin' :-) menzies ? mingis ? meenis ? tak yir pick :)

  10. I loved this shop. I worked here on a saturday in the stock room and also in various Departments in the shop. I loved the different floors they had/ The book store on the ground floor, the stationery and records on the first floor and the wonderful toy dept on the 2nd floor. We used to have great xmas parties up on the 3rd floor as well. I remember i bought my first digital watch here as well.
    Mr Betty was a great boss and i don't know any shop at the moment that had such a great atmosphere to work in. Great days, great memories.

  11. Graeme the reflected shop sign is Peter Lords. They were located in the old J L Wilson site directly opposite.

  12. Looking into the site again it is nice to see that some people remember the old store and that it is still remembered. We were lucky in the "Famous" visitors we had in to promote their various products. Book signing sessions were regularsuccesses and many popular authors came along , but the most successful one we had, surprisingly , was a gentleman called John hazel , who came from Dundee, and wrote and sold his "Book of Records" in the store by simply staning by the lifts with a little table and speaking to everyone. We must of cleared over a thousand copies without even trying. He was a charming man who wanted no fuss, only a cup of coffee in the canteen , chatting with the staff. Another inovation we created at the time was the big push on Bargain Books, which was a comparatively new idea at the time
    - an idea I had tried , successfully during my days in London. The display regularly hit customers as they entered the store, and proved very popular all year round. Our most popular visitor , must have been Dr. Who ( Baker) who had queues right round the shop and out into the Murraygate. He was a marvellous man, who refused to have coffee or a meal as the children all wanted to see him and he didn't want to let anyone down. He outstayed his alloted time by some way just to try to please everyone. Oh dear, i am going on - but it is good to reminisec, but I had better stop now - at least for the moment !! Thank you for reading this.

    George C. Betty ( General Manager 1975 - 88)

  13. Reading what I have just written, I do apologise for the spelling. I also omitted , probaly the most important part of our book business. That is the skill, work rate, and knowledge of the Department Manager, Phyllis Hird, with whom I was fortunate enough to work for the entire time of my stay in Dundee. Undoubtedly she was one of the finest book brains in Scotland - even our book buyer in Head Office in Edinburgh used to call her up regularly to seek advice from her on quantities to buy - etc. I didn't interfere with Phyilis' department - she know a lot more than me !!!

    George C. Betty

  14. Happy memories this picture gives,
    i remember as a child,say 75,76,operating model railways in a glass box on the lift exit landing ,was it level 3...? also still recall my first santa visit, but could'nt work out how he got from JM to Debenhams so quick, my first star wars figures were also bought there, great photo, happy times