Cormacks and Crawfords
It all began in the 1920s, when the grandfather of Greg Cormack, the present owner, started work as an apprentice cobbler with Melville’s the Shoe Shop in Inverness. At that time Melville’s had four shops; two in Inverness (one on a site now occupied by the Bank of Scotland, opposite Marks and Spencer), one in Beauly and the fourth in Dingwall, the site at present part of the National Hotel and called the Sports Bar. Greg’s grandfather subsequently moved to the Dingwall shop. At a later stage the opportunity arose to buy the Dingwall shop and grandfather Cormack jumped at the chance. In these days only shoes and boots were sold and so began Cormacks business.
In 1965 the shop moved across the road to the corner site at the junction of Castle Street and the High Street. Castle Bank House, as the name implies, had previously belonged to the Bank of Scotland. Eventually there was an amalgamation with Crawfords the Draper, to become what we know it as today – ‘Cormacks and Crawfords’. The business went from strength to strength and in 1986 a further move was made, this time to the site in the High Street previously occupied by William Lows’ supermarket.
The shop sells a wide range of goods: textiles, bed linen, throws, wools, ladies fashions, children’s clothes and, of course, shoes and boots. A speciality seems to be very attractive cushions of all shapes, colours and sizes.
There are two flats above the shop, overlooking the High Street, and, of recent years, unused space at the rear of the shop has been converted into three apartments, which are rented out.
‘Cormacks and Crawfords’ is well known in Dingwall and the surrounding area as an interesting shop, where customers are always made to feel welcome and receive old-fashioned service.
The present owner of the Bakery is Mr William Deas. It all began in 1912 when William’s great-grandfather started up a Bakery in Forres. In 1934 his Grandfather moved to Dingwall and bought Wishart’s Bakery at 62 High Street from a Miss C. Wishart. At the beginning the Bakery employed seven people. The family lived in the flat above the shop.
Then in the late sixties the family purchased Brooke’s Bakery at No. 67 High Street, where the present tea-room is situated. It is now called The Central Bakery. Mrs Brooke lived above the shop as was the custom in those days.
The Croft restaurant
In 1971 Baxter’s Construction Co. converted two stable blocks into what is now The Croft Restaurant. The previous owner, a Mr Robertson, had hired out carriages and horses – changed days. The Deas family acquired the Caledonian Hotel in 1973. The building bears the date 1812 incised above the entrance from the High Street. There are now around 30 workers employed, including a few part-time staff. A very popular and successful business.
The 1st and 2nd floors of the Caledonian Hotel have recently been converted into office accommodation. At present (in the year 2000) the first floor is occupied by the Reporter to the Children’s Panel. The second floor is rented by the Social Work Department dealing with Young Offenders.
The National Hotel
The National Hotel, an impressive three-storey Scottish sandstone property of the Victorian era, now a Listed Building, stands in splendour at the heart of the ancient Royal Burgh.
The Hotel is built on a site which, since the tenth century, has been associated with travellers, and it now holds a special place among the communities of Ross and Cromarty as a centre of most major social functions and activities.
The Hotel has 54 en suite bedrooms, all with individual controlled heating, direct dial telephones, colour televisions and tea and coffee making facilities. For many years it was a favourite venue for visiting coach parties but this trade has ceased.
The Bank of Scotland
The Bank of Scotland has operated a branch in Dingwall since 1878 when it took over the High Street office of the City of Glasgow Bank, including its premises, its staff and its agent – John Binning.
In 1908 it took over the premises of the Caledonian Bank, in order to open a branch on Tulloch Street, again retaining the services of the Agent, Mr Benjamin Aird. He held the post until he died (bankrupt!) in 1895.
The two branches were amalgamated in 1961, when modern new premises were built on the corner of the High Street and Tulloch Street. This remains the home of the Bank of Scotland in Dingwall today.
The Royal Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s association with Dingwall dates back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the National Bank of Scotland opened a branch there in 1829. In 1878 Commercial Bank of Scotland also opened a branch in the town, although it closed in the following year and was not reopened until 1906. Finally on 9 May 1923 The Royal Bank of Scotland opened its own branch, known as Dingwall, Hill Street.
In 1959 National Bank of Scotland merged with Commercial Bank of Scotland to form National Commercial Bank of Scotland and two years later their branches in the town were also joined. The resulting branch eventually became known as Dingwall High Street and on 12 January 1970 it combined with the Dingwall Hill Street Branch. This merger was brought about following the amalgamation of National Commercial Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969.
[Produced by Archive Section, Corporate Affairs, The Royal Bank of Scotland.]
Wm Low / Tesco / Lidl
The previous site occupied by Tesco at Slakefield, off Tulloch Street. The building was refurbished and is now a Lidl supermarket.
The large supermarket owned by Tesco is one of a nation-wide chain. It occupies an area of 20,000 square feet adjacent to the High Street and provides free parking for 100 cars.The present building was erected in 2004. The previous building was erected in 1986 and was owned by Wm Low and Co, who were taken over by Tesco in 1994. The merchandise sold covers all modern household needs; food, cleaning materials, newspapers, magazines, confectionery, wines and spirits, tobacco and flowers. There are facilities for all major credit cards and there is a customer savings scheme. 126 members of staff are employed, both full and part-time and a management training scheme is in operation for schools leavers.
This modern workshop and saleroom opened some years ago having transferred from a site in Tulloch Street, where Lidl’s carpark now is. The business had been established by brothers John and Evan Mackay who also were directors of Ross-shire Laundry which operated on a site adjacent to the garage.
Woolworths PLC was located in the High Street of Dingwall as one of the company’s most northerly stores with a size relatively small by Woolworth’s standards, i.e. sales floor space of 4000 sq ft.
The branch opened for business in 1962 and employed 17 staff, the majority of which were part-time with several being with the store/company for over 20 years.
“Woolies” was a store where generation after generation of Ross-shire children took their first steps in Ladybird clothes, played first with Woolworths toys, drawn their first pictures using Woolworths stationery, bought their favourite CDs and presents for their parents and grandparents.
Families knew that whatever they needed or wanted, it would be found in the heart of the high street of Dingwall in Woolworths.
Sadly, Woolworths closed nationally in 2008, but the building was refurbished and opened as The Factory Shop in 2010.