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J & W Tait's Van in the High Street
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J & W Tait's Van in the High Street

Another picture of J & W Tait's grocery van and the driver John Johnston, in the High Street where he lived. Date is an estimate.
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Picture added on 30 July 2009
There were two vans running out of J.&W.Taits stores in West Tankerness Lane at one particular time .
I wonder if you can tell me if this was the East or West Mainland Van?
Added by Peter Burges on 06 August 2009
I couldn't really say for sure Peter but guessing I would say the East Mainland just because thats where my family comes from.
Added by Danny Rendall on 12 August 2009
No boys. I think John Johnston did the West Mainland. I have heard it said that on one of his runs he lodged in Evie overnight then completed the run back to Kirkwall the next day. He once took my brother, Alistair and me with him in the van (in 1938 a later one than this one) and going out the Old Finstown Road he introduced his wifie coustomers to the two peedie boys on holiday from Glasgow. I seem to remember getting sweets from at least one of them.
Added by Ian Cameron on 13 August 2009
Well Danny for what it's worth, I did think it would be the East Mainland Van.
In 1949 when I left school one of my first jobs was working in the store which served the van for the Westmainland.
The driver of that particular van was a gentleman from Birsay called Gilbert Hay and a very fine man he was.The store where it was garaged when in town was the store nearest the Peedie Sea.This store and van were operated by J&W Tait's.

The Eastmainland van worked out of the store next door which was nearer Junction Road. This store was run by George Harcus (My grandmother's brother)and would in John Johnston's time probably have been part of the J&W Tait empire.
As far as I know the Eastmainland van and employees eventually became the business of G.Harcus and his partner a Mr Schollay, and the van driver was a gentleman called Stanley Ballantyne.This part of the business was latterly transferred to the foot of Tankerness Lane.
Perhaps this story will jolt a few memories with someone else, and be able to add to or make any corrections to this one.
Added by Peter Burges on 13 August 2009
Its pointing East, could be a clue.
Added by David Tullock on 13 August 2009
Peter, you are spot on. I remember Stanley and the old van very well but I think it was a later model in the thirties with pneumatic tyres - maybe I'm wrong. Mother, your Aunt Lizzie, bought most of her groceries from the van, keeping the business in the family as her brother, George ran it. It carried everything from a needle to an anchor, slight exageration, but we even got paraffin from it, stored on the roof away from the food.
Added by Tom Scott on 14 August 2009
My father had an uncle and aunt living at Stratheast at this time. I have their message book for J & w Taits van for 1919 & 1920. thought you might be amused at some of the prices. For example, July 26 1920
9 lb butter @ 2/4 = £1 1/
2 lb rice 8d
1lb baking soda 3d
1 lb pearl tapioca 7d
1 lb currants 1/2d
big raisins 8d
tin boot polish 7d
3 loaves 1/9
ground ginger 8d

total 6/4

credit balance 14/8d

each week the book was signed by either JS or CH
Added by Jim Cooper on 14 August 2009
Peter. Gilbert Hay that you speak of was the West Mainland vanman in our days at Lighthouse in Firth. He came on a Saturday night. Before him it was John Peace. He lived in Tait's building in Broad Street. Some of you will rember his daughter Irene Peace who married Billy Wilson of the G.P O. John Johnston would be the vanman before John Peace. In the war time (2nd.) I think it was J.P. who was in the Burness Road at Quatquoy with customers in the van when a German bomber dropped a bomb near by and it was said the van lifted off the road and set back down again. In The Forties and Fifties we had a van down the Burness Road every day and on Saturday we had two, J.& W Tait and Jock Baikie from Rendall. We didn't take from Jock Baikie's van as it was to near bed time when he came. Ah, them were the days.
Added by Ian Cameron on 17 August 2009
Anybody got any pictures of the vans that used to go around Kirkwall in the 70s, i.e. Charles T Stewart's, Groundwater's, Notman's, Baikie's, John T Flett's butcher van, Martin Rendall's fish van etc.?
Added by Steven Heddle on 17 August 2009
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