Sunday, 27 November 2011


So the coal lorry on yesterdays photo got me raking around for a few related items, because many of us who were brought up in the 60's/70's had coal fires or relatives who did.
Oor hoose in Craigie did, complete with coal bunker for our weekly delivery, and the wee indoor accessories like scuttle, poker, brush and fire-guard.
Above are a few reminders from those days.
Smith Hood & Co, the coal merchant, was on the corner of Union St & Whitehall Cres, with the photo of their premises taken in 1960.
James Hood was also in Union St, a few doors up at #28. He dealt with solid fuel, oil based fuel and chuckies! Their ad is from 1968.
The T.Muir, Son & Patton ad is also from 1968 and are highlighting the fact that they have moved away from the old horse & cart days onto a new modern lorry fleet. The photo of them in action in the ad was taken across from the Queens Hotel.
Ingram's place was in Kings Road on the corner of Whitton Street. They came up with a puntastic slogan - "The GRATE Corner". They weren't a coal dealer but they made your fireplace surrounds, installed your boiler and so on. 1966 is the date of the ad.
One of the aspects of having a coal fire was that it meant you had to have your chimney swept regularly, and chimney sweeps were quite common in the 60's. They would cover the fireplace with a big black cloth, stick their bristly brush through the cover and would add extension poles to it until it eventually poked out the top of the chimney pot. Because of all the soot involved, most of the guys looked like they were in the Black & White Minstrels!
However, I managed to find a wee ad in a 1972 Tele that would seem to do away with chimney sweeps - a product called "Imp Soot Destroyer". It says you just drop a packet onto a burning fire. No idea what happened after that!
Probably the majority of Dundonians had changed over to alternative heating systems by the 80's, so not much call for coal from then on.


  1. The tiny window on the Union Street side of the Smith Hood shop always displayed a posh "companion set" and a shiney copper coal scuttle.

  2. THAT is your worst punning title yet - I don't think you'll ever better it.

  3. he must hae been "Stoned" again, keep aff the doobies GG :-)=~

  4. .
    The head office of Thos. Muir, Son & Patton was Nethergate House. My Mum's aunt and uncle were housekeeper and caretaker there during the 50s and 60s.
    Uncle Jim gave me a tour round the building one Sunday afternoon in the early 60s.
    The one thing that stuck in my mind was a circular table, probably around 3 feet in diameter, with the top cut through, like a lace pattern. It was supported by a central stand with feet that splayed out on the floor.
    The amazing thing was that it was completely made of coal.
    Apparently, a Spanish Bank bought over the Clydesdale Bank, who then occupied the building and a pile of stuff was cleared out of the house and shipped to Spain.
    Don't know the truth of that but I often wonder what happened to the coal table...

  5. Coal is quite an unusual substance to make a table out of but who'd have thought you could make SOAP from it?! Remember "Pears Coal Tar Soap"? Sounds like a contradiction in terms. As a kid it looked like a giant horehound sweetie!

  6. I thought it was Wright's Coal Tar Soap

  7. Definitely Pears back in the 60's.

  8. can you still get IMP lum cleaner ?

  9. Not IMP but the same stuff

  10. Coal? What a hot topic!
    There would always be a clinker in the coal bunker waiting to do its party piece indoors.
    Clinkers didn't burn properly like coal did and so would often explode sending burning shards outwards onto to your carpet.
    Pity help you if you had a big thick sheepskin rug in front of the fire and you didn't have your fire guard up!