Andrew Allan, Baker

by George Beattie

Andrew Allan was a native of Ceres in Fife, where his father had been lessee of Craigrothie Grain Mill.   Andrew served an apprenticeship with local baker, John Sturrock.   Whilst still in his twenties he moved to Alva, where he was foreman baker with Alva Co-operative Society for three years, before moving back to Fife where he acquired a small bakery business in Kirkcaldy.   A year later, in 1887, he came to Dunfermline where he took over the established bakery business and shop at 93 High Street, operated for some forty years by Mr James Faulds and his wife Helen.

By his skill and industry in all aspects of the baking and confectionery trade, he rapidly developed the business, building in the course of time, one of the largest and most up-to-date bakeries, belonging to a private individual, in the county.    Of an inventive turn of mind, he devoted a great deal of time to the study and perfection of bakery plant.   Many improved devices which he patented were later in use in bakeries all over the country.    He specialised in ovens, in connection with which his work attracted favourable notice among master craftsmen.

Mr Allan was one of the founders of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers, of which he was president in 1913-14.  He took a practical interest in the bakery and confectionery classes in the Lauder Technical School, and frequently was invited to adjudicate upon the work of the students.   On several occasions he officiated as judge at the annual bakery exhibitions in London.

Photo of Andrew Allan’s ‘Hygienic’ Bakery Van at Charlestown
Andrew Allan’s ‘Hygienic’ Bakery Van at Charlestown

Not only did Mr Allan run a busy bakery and shop, but he, like many other traders in the town, gave service to many customers in the outlying villages by operating horse drawn bread and confectionery vans throughout these areas.   These vans were overtaken by motor transport in the 1900s.    The property in the High Street was extensive, stretching back to Canmore Street.

Photographs of Allan’s shop and staff at 93 High Street c. 1930 and, probably Coronation Year, 1953
Allan’s shop and staff at 93 High Street left c. 1930 and right, probably Coronation Year, 1953

Andrew Allan died in 1928, at the age of 74, and was succeeded in the business by his only son, Andrew Alexander, who had served his apprenticeship with the firm.

Photo of Allan’s staff above c. 1930
Allan’s staff c. 1930

George Grieve, (interviewed in 2013), began work as a van boy with Allan’s.    He recalled some of the workforce at that time as; Ian Sneddon, foreman; Ian’s brother, Bert and his wife to be, Margaret; Jim Dickson, Maisie McNaughton, Jenny Dickson and Betsy McCawley, the latter later marrying Andrew Allan Jnr.

Andrew Alexander Allan was a prominent member of Dunfermline Golf Club when the club operated at Ferryhills, North Queensferry, and later at Torrie, Torryburn.   In 1931 Andrew presented the club with a trophy which is still played for annually by the winners of the Saturday monthly medal competition.  

Photo of Allan’s staff c. 1945. with Andrew Allan Jnr. on the right of the picture.
Allan’s staff c. 1945. with Andrew Allan Jnr. on the right of the picture.

Andrew Allan Jnr. died in 1948, at which time he was succeeded in the business by his wife, Betsy. She carried on running the firm for a further ten years, ably assisted by the bakery foreman, Ian Sneddon. In November, 1960, the business was acquired by the national firm, Beattie’s Bakeries Ltd., of Glasgow.   Shortly thereafter this firm ceased trading in Dunfermline and the premises at 93 High Street, Dunfermline (which looks up Douglas Street) are now occupied by H. Samuel, Jeweller.      

Photo of Andrew Allan Snr
Andrew Allan Snr