The Butcher, the Baker and the Boot and Shoe Maker

A gala day parade in Roslin with Arpino's ice cream salloon on the left
A gala day parade in Roslin with Arpino's ice cream salloon on the left

There is so much in the news at the moment about limiting the amount of sweets and fizzy drinks children get, writes Winnie Stevenson (Roslin Heritage Society).

Older residents of Roslin will remember when they had a choice of more than a dozen shops to visit on a Saturday to spend their pocket money.

A threepenny bit could buy a liquorice strap, a penny dainty in its green-and-white wrapper and a gobstopper. Gobstoppers lived up to their name… almost the size of golf balls, they lasted forever. They had to be regularly taken out of your mouth and inspected as they were made of layers of different colours. I think we checked the colour of each other’s tongue as well.

There was often the dilemma of whether to spend the money on just one item – a lucky tattie, which was a large, very hard, cinnamon-covered sweet containing a lucky charm. What fun to collect these wee charms but sadly children no longer have that pleasure, as they might choke on them!

Also on offer on the penny tray were cherry lips, black jacks, soor plooms, sherbet dabs and bubble gum. Who could blow the biggest bubbles? Remember the row when you got home with not only your face all sticky but the cuff of your jersey as well? And woe betide anyone caught dropping it in the playground. Now pavements seem to be covered in the stuff.

Fizzy drinks were mostly lemonade, orangeade, irn-bru, or the wonderful coloured crystals that came in tins, Creamola Foam. The tightly-fitting lid first had to be prised off, then the delight of watching the “fizz” when a teaspoonful was added to a glass of water. I remember orange, lemon and strawberry, or was it raspberry?

Ginger beer was sold to Victorian tourists in Roslin Glen. To us historians, the anticipation when zooming in on a sign hanging on the side of a building in an old photograph, the disappointment to find the lettering proclaim “Ginger Beer sold here”.

Easter eggs… not mentioning a particular brand, but surely everyone will recognise my favourite.

Peel off half the coloured silver paper to find lovely milk chocolate to be sucked until you reached that gooey white fondant cream and then the yellow yolk. Ooooooohh!!

They used to cost just 6d, that’s 2½p. How much are they today? Many children would not be able to afford expensive chocolate eggs so would roll decorated hard-boiled eggs and have a picnic on Gardener’s Brae below the Chapel. Great fun.

I’ve called this article, the butcher, the baker and the boot and shoe maker. I couldn’t find any reference to a candlestick maker in Roslin, although there may well have been one but surprisingly we had at least two boot and shoe makers.

Leather footwear had to last and was repaired and resoled, many times. I’m afraid I’ve had to throw out even quite expensive shoes, the uppers still looking good as new but the soles split across. Take them to a cobbler, if you can find one, and all he will say is, ‘These modern man-made soles can’t be mended, sorry’. Progress?

Roslin had two butchers, one in the Co-op in Station Road and Wright on the Main Street going back to at least the mid-1800s.

At busy times, you had to take care where you queued as the sides of beef were hung in the front shop, the blood dripping onto the floor and being absorbed by sawdust. This probably came from one of the joiners’ shops in the village. Not allowed today.

Also in the mid-1800s, Roslin had two bakehouses. Could these have supplied the two hotels and many restaurants which catered for the tourists who flocked to the area?

One restaurant was later also a fish and chip shop but there was a separate fish shop. Arpino had an ice cream saloon and business must have been good as he moved from the small shop in Stanley Place which later became the bank, to what is now the dental surgery. We’ve had a chemist’s shop in Roslin for more than 100 years, first in Stanley Place, then Alexander Place and now beside the health centre.

There were numerous shops selling newspapers and, of course, sweets and groceries. One was famous for selling “potted heid” and another sold beautiful cooked ham, cut with a knife which was sharpened on the stone door frame so often, the 
stone became worn into a hollow.

John Judge, the grocer was “proprietor of the famed Rosslyn Castle blend of Scotch whisky, 3/6 per bottle, 21/- per gallon’. You’d hardly get a sniff out of a glass for that today!

Next door was, and still is, our Post Office.

It’s thanks to the family who owned it 100 years ago that we have these wonderful photos of Roslin known as the Bryce Collection held at Local Studies.