Rise and fall of a dairy

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The Buttercup

by Bill Scott

FEW will remember the name Andrew Ewing but an Alnwick man has brought his history and forgotten story to life in The Buttercup.

In the early 1900s as a young Scottish entrepreneur, Andrew Ewing created a grocery business that lit up high streets across Scotland and the North of England.

They were the Buttercup Dairy Company shops, and each had a recognisable girl and cow mural on it.

But Bill Scott’s book is more than just a history of the company, it looks at how Ewing quietly gave away his fortune in his desire to die a poor man.

Bill was born and raised on Ewing’s company farm in Edinburgh and with a lot of research and help from former employees, he has brought out the story of Ewing’s extraordinary life and the lasting legacy he left behind.

Born in Stoneykirk in 1869 and moving to Dundee later, it was there that Ewing started work as a grocer.

By the age of 22 he was promoted to manager and in 1894 he opened his first business, simply named A. Ewing. Grocer.

Four years later the Buttercup Dairy Company was born and its first shop opened in Kirkcaldy in 1904.

It was closely followed by more and more and the shops became part of daily life, with around 250 stores in total.

They were almost always staffed by women and sold a range of high-quality produce including eggs which were eventually supplied by Ewing’s Clermiston Mains poultry farm.

At its peak the farm employed around 100 staff and by this time Ewing was one of the wealthiest businessmen in Scotland.

But despite his wealth and standing he was generous and strongly committed to his baptist faith.

He continued to carry out charity work in secret, he even took Bill’s grandfather out of the pit when he was ill and helped his family.

The book regales the generosity Ewing had and the support he gave to so many people.

While Bill Scott spent a long time collating the information, he tells Andrew Ewing’s heartwarming story and the eventual demise of the Buttercup Dairy.

Well-written and well worth a read.