Alistair (Ally) Birrell, former proprietor of Birrell’s Garage, Crieff Road, Perth, Birrell’s School of Motoring and The Exchange Cafe, Leonard Street, Perth, has died aged 81.
Together with his father, David, he ran the garage from the mid 1950s until the mid 1980s.
Ally then opened a shop, Eat and Sweets, at the shopping centre in Hillyland, before running the Exchange Cafe in Leonard Street for many years.
He was born in Perth in January 1942 to David and Mary Birrell and grew up with his sister, Pat, who died a few years ago.
Ally was educated at Northern District Primary School and then Perth High School, which was in Gowans Terrace in those days.
His father, David, had started the garage business in a wooden shed in Crieff Road in the early 1950s and then acquired land nearby from Mansfield Estates around 1953/54.
He built Birrell’s garage on the land and expanded it over the years to include a panel and spray shop and petrol pumps. The business also had the Pink Paraffin franchise, hired cars and provided school transport.
Ally had first met his future wife, Joan (MacPherson) who worked in the office of Rolls-Royce dealer, Grassick’s of Perth, while he went to the garage to collect vehicle parts.
They met up again at the dancing in Perth City Hall and married in 1965 in Letham St Mark’s Church. They couple had three children, Gary, Scott and Julie.
When his father died in 1981, Ally continued to run the garage for another two years before opening Eats and Sweets, selling filled rolls and confectionery in premises close to Tulloch Primary School.
Ally sold the business in 1988 and took over the Exchange Cafe from Bill Birrell, although the two were not related.
He ran the cafe single-handedly apart from some help on a Saturday from Julie, grandson Scott, and his friend, the late Ronnie Welsh.
Gary said: “His rolls were renowned. He bought his bacon and sausages from Lindsay the butcher in Perth and his rolls from Montgomery so it was quality, locally-sourced produced.”
Ally retired from business aged 65 but had a three or four-year spell working with a firm of sheriff officers.
He is survived by Joan, Gary, Scott and Julie, grandchildren Scott junior, Sara, Luke, Cameron and Gary junior, and great-granddaughter, Mollie.
You can read the family’s announcement here.