Orkney Image Library

<< back
Lennie's Shop Kirkwall
The Orkney Image Library

Help us get organised! If we haven't correctly identified which area this picture is best listed under, please select it below and click Done!

view a random pic
Lennie's Shop Kirkwall

Lennie's shop is where the Clydesdale Bank is on the corner of
Broad St and Castle St. [Ed: or is it? See debate below] My grandfather is one of the men standing outside as he served his apprenticeship with Lennie as a tailor.

Date is an estimate.
Picture added on 10 December 2003
Sorry Paul, the photo is the building which is now the Clydesdale Bank on the corner of Bridge St and Castle St, Kirkwall. My grandfather worked there and wrote on the back of the large photo all about it and who the people in the photo were. The building was extensively burnt down and rebuilt so the outside now bears little resemblance to how it was when this photo was taken. The Library Photo Archive were interested in the photo as there had been some difficulties when the Bank were doing some interior alterations and room sizes didn't work out. Some of the original walls are still there - inside the existing building apparently.
Added by Marion McLeod on 13 January 2005
I think this is actually the southern end of R Garden's building in Bridge Street which was burnt down in the late thirties, ie the part next to Slater's licensed grocers/ Orkney Photographic. if you look on page 35 of Noel Hill and Caroline Budge's Orkney - A Photographic History Volume 1, it is just visible on the right of the lower photo.
Added by Paul Sutherland on 13 January 2005
I'm afraid we'll have to differ. the door, windows, mouldings, chamfered corner and distinctive lintel above the first-floor window all seem to coincide with photos of bridge street, as do the glimpses of the rest of the building and the paving. peace's almanac puts lennie in bridge street in the 1900s and teens and in junction road thereafter. peace and low, drapers were on the corner of broad street and castle street. it may be that lennie rented part of their premises at some time (i haven't checked all the almanacs), but photos in shoal and sheaf, orkney - a photographic history and the orcadian book of the twentieth century showing peace and low's before and after the 1932 fire don't look very like this picture. now if only someone had a clearer photo of the east side of bridge street it might settle the question!
Added by Paul Sutherland on 14 January 2005
I haven't been in Kirkwall for a year or three, but cannot recollect a corner of bridge street and castle street, surely there is the whole length of albert street in between.

[Steven adds: fair point- clearly Marion means Broad Street rather than Bridge Street]
Added by Tom Scott on 17 January 2005
Sorry - yes I meant the corner of Broad St and Castle St. [memory lapse while typing!] This photo must have been taken around 1895/7 as my grandfather was an apprentice tailor with Lennie before becoming a master tailor, marrying and moving to Eday for a year. I agree it does look like the property that Paul mentions but it is noted in family records that my grandfather worked for Lennies on Broad St. where the present Clydesdale Bank is now situated. As the building was burnt down and rebuilt with some of the walls retained inside the new building it could look very different from the outside now? Does anyone have any photos of the building Paul mentions so we can compare the buildings?
Added by Marion on 17 January 2005
Sorry too Marion, but I have to agree with Paul. I have carefully examined George Wilson's photo on page 98 of "Shoal & Sheaf" and also a photo I took from the same viewpoint in the sixties and conclude that the Clydesdale Bank Building is not the location of Lennie's shop. In the c1880 photo there are two windows and a door in the frontage and two stories above each with three windows. Both your photo and Wilson's would have been taken within a few years and before a fire. My photo of the sixties shows the same configuration of the frontage except that the top story has been removed and the building reroofed but retaining the old chimney stacks. Your photo shows a tall building behind and abutting Lennie's shop which did not exist on the Clydesdale building either in the 1880's or the sixties. I favour the corner of Albert Street and Bridge street which was the site of Slaters drapers in my time and now Leonards.
I will send a scan of my photo for comparison, separately.

Added by Tom Scott on 19 January 2005
Tom, I would be very interested to see your old photos of this building. I had wondered about this photo being what is now the Clydesdale Bank building as it didn't seem to fit but don't have access to any old photos of Kirkwall streets. If I am wrong I would need to let the Library Photo Archive know.
Added by Marion McLeod on 27 January 2005
Marion, I think the photo on page 98 of Shoal & Sheaf is the most definitive.

Click to ViewMy photo, a general view of Kirkwall from the Cathedral tower taken in about 1960 is in my album, picture #552. As I mention the area in question is in deep shadow and I could only read the detail after enhancement on the computer. I can not be definite about my suggestion that the location of Lennies is on the corner of Albert and Bridge Streets.
Added by Tom Scott on 28 January 2005
Paul & Tom, I have not got a copy of Shoal & Sheaf but have been checking out some other books with old photos and tend to agree that this building is one in Bridge Street - amongst those burnt down at Gardens Buildings. I have sent details to the Photo Archive Dept to ask if they can check and confirm. Thanks for your help with this.
Added by Marion McLeod on 01 February 2005
I contacted David Mackie at the library photo archive and sent him copies of all the old photos to compare with my one and he agrees that it might well be the premises in Bridge Street. So I think we can assume from all the info so far obtained that is the case? Unless anyone has any other ideas????
Added by Marion McLeod on 02 February 2005
There are newspaper photos of Garden's smouldering ruins in 1938 which might show something but as I'm in Shetland I can't check that myself just now. The oldest part of Garden's was a house called The Gallery, once the town house of the Traills of Woodwick and afterwards the Kirkwall Hotel. It consisted of a long four-storey block running parallel to and set back from Bridge Street with two 2/3-storey wings at right angles on either end, gable to the street, so the whole house formed three sides of a courtyard facing the street. At the left-hand edge of Lennie's chimney you can just make out the chimney of the four-storey part. When Garden turned the house into shops he added extensions on the south side of both wings. Lennie's would be the southmost of these. It would be interesting to see a picture of the building before Garden extended it. I wonder if one exists?
Added by Paul Sutherland on 04 February 2005
With reference to the above photo of Marion Mcleod's, dated 1925.
My late mother worked for R.Garden sometime in the late 1920's/early 1930's and she had pictures taken of that part of the street (I believe, by the late J.W.Sinclair)
One is taken looking up the street and the other looking diagonally down street at the time of the disastrous fire.
I shall forward a copy of each to see if this will help to solve the mystery of the location of the above photo.
Hope this will put the "mystery" to "bed" once and for all.
Added by Peter Burges on 24 August 2006
Peter's two pictures are fascinating. picture #1682 seems to show Lennie's shop (furthest from the camera) unaltered from above apart from the door being changed to a window (had Garden's knocked two shops into one?), but by 1938 and picture #1683 it looks as though the old shop front had been rebuilt and the corner shaved off it, presumably to let bigger lorries negotiate the corner and get up the lane to the stores. By the way, last weekend I found a picture of a Garden's staff outing to Houton in the mid thirties. Perhaps Peter's mother is in it.
Added by Paul Sutherland on 25 August 2006
I know this debate went on in 2005 to 2006 but if you look at picture #1135 you can clearly see that my grt, grt grandfathers shop Peace and Low was where the Clydesdale Bank now is.

Added by Linda Irving on 10 September 2014
And if you check the Valuation Rolls for Kirkwall you will find that Peace and Lows pre-dates 1890 and there is no mention of Lennie's in Broad St. I would need to re-check the census records but I'm pretty sure that Charles Low is mentioned as a draper before 1891.
Added by David Partner on 23 September 2014
There are 2 Charles Low's father and son, both ran the Peace and Low shop up until 1939 when it went on fire.
Added by Linda Irving on 03 October 2014
Sadly Marion Macleod who started this debate passed away some time ago but I think we can now put the discussion to bed and confirm that Paul Sutherland was correct those many years ago.

The firm of T. Peace and Low, Drapers, appears in the Valuation Roll of 1860/61 as situated at 3 Broad Street. Thomas Peace was born in Sanday c.1832 and in 1856 married Eliz. Lees. In 1860 Charles Low married a younger sister Christian or Christine Lees. Thomas Peace had no children but Charles Low had at least six. Two sons were named John Lees Low and Thomas Peace Low who gave us the legal firm of T.P.and J.L.Low. at 5 Broad Street. The firm of Peace and Low, now under another son Charles James Low, suffered a disastrous fire on Sunday 3rd January 1932 as reported in the Orkney Herald of Wed.6th estimated at £5000, quite a sum for those days.
Now as regards J.S.Lennie we find its first mention in the Valuation Roll of 1897/98 in part of the premises belonging to R.Garden. As a matter of fact it was in the uppermost section next to William Slater,Wine Merchant, now Ken Amer's Photography shop. Ordinance Maps of Kirkwall in 1880 and 1902 show there was a gap wide enough for a carriage between Garden's premises and Slaters, which explains why it looks as though Lennie's was at the corner of two streets. In 1922 Peace's Almanack has Lennie on Junction Rd. and after 1935/36 there is no further mention of his tailoring business.
I hope this information settles the discussion. Why Marion's ancestor said the corner of Broad St. and Castle St. I do not know since Lennie's shop was never there.
Added by David Partner on 27 October 2014
My great grandmother Jane Firth Lennie came over to the mainland and settled with her husband in Newcastle upon Tyne. Her daughter,my grandmother became a tailoress. I am interested to know who the people pictured are. Please can you tell me?
Added by Gwen Smelt on 11 January 2017
<< back


The Haven, BrimsHighland Park Distillery Visitor CentreHighland Park presentationHighland Park Distillery RetiralHighland Park Distillery TeamHighland Park still maintenanceHighland Park RetiralHighland Park distillery teamHighland Park RetiralKirkwall Fire Station boarded up for the Ba