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End of an Era in Lybster

16th February 2010

Photograph of End of an Era in Lybster

A major change in the social history of Lybster occurred on Saturday evening of 13th February 2010 with the closing of the doors on the business of D Munro-better known as the 'Cafe' or 'Eric's'

Eric and Eileen are retiring after 46 years in the present shop. The business of D Munro was actually started by Eileen's Mum (Diane) and Dad (David Lloyd George - they were keen on politics in these days!) on 12th August 1954. The present shop was a drapers for a couple of generations of Eileen's family. Her great grandfather John Mowat started the business back in the 1890's and it was her uncle Bill (William Mowat last Provost of Wick) who took the drapers business to Wick. In its Lybster heyday, the draper business had a seamstress and a tailor working full time for the Mowat family.

According to Eileen the wooden counters seen in the photos were custom built inside the shop by one of the four joiner businesses that were once in Lybster. She can't recall which one but they have always been very proud of the counters' heritage. The legacy of the draper shop is also seen in the shelving which was custom built to take boxes of hats, shirts and various other apparel of the day.

The couple are also very proud of the way the business built up through the years originally moving into the current shop from the original premises further up the street and across the road. As Eileen recalls they moved in with 2 tables, four chairs, four stools a juke box and a freezer. According to the couple they installed a pool table in the late 60's or early 70's to take care of the growing craze for pool at the time. Many pool competitions were held for a period of time as the Cafe became the place to go to for the teenagers of that era.

People would come from elsewhere outwith Lybster to visit and have a cup of coffee and something to eat. Eric recalled the day a bus load of forty folk turned up for a tea break. How did they cope with such numbers in a little cafe? They both laughed and recalled that "half a dozen were in the shop, another six to eight in the back shop, some were in the kitchen and others were put into the front room but they were all served and thoroughly enjoyed the experience!"

When pressed as to what would be the lasting impression for both to take into retirement, Eileen replied, "Simply the pleasure of knowing so many people and making so many friends from near and far over the years." A sentiment with which Eric whole heartedly agreed. They also want to put on record their great thanks to all who have worked for them over the years. The most recent assistant Liz Miller had been with them for 24 years and whilst some of the others have passed away in the intervening years they are still very fondly remembered.

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