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Past Times

Shops in Dundee brought back to life in our special exhibition of nostalgic images

The first-ever curated exhibition of the Evening Telegraph’s weekly archive supplement opens tomorrow - giving our readers the chance to relive historic high streets and stores. reports.
Graeme Strachan
Illustrator Kate Benzie working on the floor design. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.
Illustrator Kate Benzie working on the floor design. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

The ghosts of Christmas retail past are returning to Dundee’s Keiller Centre at an exhibition that recreates the golden age of shopping in the city.

The first-ever curated exhibition of the Evening Telegraph’s weekly archive supplement opens tomorrow to give our readers the chance to relive historic high streets and stores.

They hark back to the time when barely a shop unit was unlit and the High Street was king – before internet shopping and digital entertainment took over our lives.

The Dundonian event at the Keiller Centre features a treasure trove of images from the DC Thomson archives including many once-bustling and long-gone businesses.

Some of the pictures have not been seen for decades.

The team is hard at work putting the finishing touches to the exhibition and we were given a first glimpse at how the space will look when it opens to the public on Saturday.


Travel back in time at Keiller Centre…

The inside of the exhibition space at the Keiller Centre in Dundee, as a floor mural is put in place
The exhibition opens on Saturday at 10am. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

In 1989 the Keiller Centre was bought over and a £500,000 refurbishment got under way.

The stores also received new branding that featured its new identity, The Forum
Shopping Centre.

A wall mural showing Coronation Street actor William Roache in Dundee in 1989. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.
William Roache in 1989. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

The new branding came just one day before the centre’s 10th birthday, on November 3 1989, and locals were completely against the name change.

The new name and interior meant there was another grand opening and Ken Barlow actor William Roache turned up from Coronation Street to cut the ribbon.

An overhead view of the Murraygate in Dundee in 1962. Image: DC Thomson.
An overhead view of the Murraygate in Dundee in 1962. Image: DC Thomson.

Here are some of the images you’ll find on the walls of the exhibition.

Above is Murraygate in 1962, bustling with people and traffic and several shops.

Businesses can be seen on either side, including G. L. Wilson and Smith Brothers.

A woman looks out from a newsagent on High Street in 1975. Image: DC Thomson.
Newsagent on High Street in 1975. Image: DC Thomson.

Read all about it!

The Hub, which is pictured in June 1975, sold newspapers and a wide range of glossy magazines, bringing the glamour of Hollywood to the High Street.

Fans crowd around as Tom Baker visits John Menzies in the Murraygate in September 1976. Image: DC Thomson.
Tom Baker visits John Menzies in the Murraygate in September 1976. Image: DC Thomson.

Generations of shoppers will fondly remember the iconic John Menzies Murraygate branch in Dundee.

Doctor Who (Tom Baker) was the most popular visitor to the Murraygate branch and hundreds of people queued in the street in September 1976 for his autograph.

The interior of the Dens Road Market in 1976. Image: DC Thomson.
Dens Road Market in 1976. Image: DC Thomson.

Who could forget the sights, sounds and smells of Dens Road Market?

Where else could you find meat, veg and fruit, antiques, garden tools, oil paintings, jewellery and the “finest selection of lace and net curtains” all under one roof?

Staff at the Jacanoni Ice Cream Paradise in 1979. Image: DC Thomson.
Staff at the Jacanoni Ice Cream Paradise in 1979. Image: DC Thomson.

The Keiller Centre was Dundee’s go-to shopping mall after opening in 1979.

Jacanoni’s made Dundee and Dundee United ice creams featuring peppermint flavouring for the white and blue Dundee cone and liquorice and orange for the tangerine and black United version.

Shoppers at Magic Eye Video, Keiller Centre, Dundee, in 1982.
Shoppers at Magic Eye Video, Keiller Centre, Dundee, in 1982.

Magic Eye Video Hire provided the latest video tapes and music wasn’t left out, either, as Sharkey provided all the new cassette tapes and albums for punters to enjoy.

The centre has declined in the past 40 years, seeing a drop in footfall.

The grey shutters have been pulled down on many units, which have now lain empty for some time.

One of the most popular toys at John Menzies, the Transformer Hot Rod, came to life in 1986. Image: DC Thomson.
One of the most popular toys at John Menzies came to life in 1986. Image: DC Thomson.

The distinctive blue, white and orange John Menzies sign would deliver the promise of sweets, books, magazines, records, games and toys for every taste imaginable.

John Menzies staged the local heat for the Rubik’s Magic National Championship in 1986 and Hot Rod from the Transformers decided to visit in 1988.

The Wellgate entrance in 1992. Image: DC Thomson.
The Wellgate entrance in 1992. Image: DC Thomson.

From 1978 until the reopening of the Overgate Centre in 2000, the Wellgate was the main destination for shopping in Dundee.

The centre was built on the site of the old Wellgate, which formed a busy, bustling approach from the Murraygate to the Wellgate Steps and the Hilltown.

Artist Kate Benzies adds the finishing touches to her floor design. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.
Artist Kate Benzies adds the finishing touches to her floor design. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 10am on Saturday.

Our dive into Dundee’s retail history runs until Friday December 29.

An image of the Wellgate steps in the exhibition. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.
An image of the Wellgate steps in the exhibition. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

Hosted by the Keiller Centre, the show features imagery from the city’s high streets in days gone by, including the Keiller Centre, the Overgate, Wellgate and Dens Road Market.

The opening times are: Wednesday from 12pm to 4pm, Thursday and Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturday from 10amto 4pm.

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