Vintage Buttercup Dairy Co frontage lovingly restored by city architects

Local author with connection to dairy praises architects’ efforts

By David Mclean
Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 6:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 6:30 pm

A vintage shop front of a once famous Edinburgh dairy company has been lovingly restored to its former splendour by a leading city architects for their new offices.

Marchmont-based Fraser/Livingstone Architects recently moved into new premises at 48 Warrender Park Road which had once been home to the Buttercup Dairy Company, which had more than 250 shops all over Scotland and northern England at its height in the early 20th century.

Previous occupants, The Meadows Lamp Gallery, had preserved key elements of the Buttercup Dairy’s original frontage, including its stained glass window and tiled and hand-painted mural with the dairy company’s signature girl and cow emblem.

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But in the past few weeks, new occupants Fraser/Livingstone have fully renovated the property and uncovered the Buttercup Dairy’s elaborate 1920s signage.

Established last year by leading architects Malcolm Fraser and Robin Livingstone, the firm hired Davy Neave of Braidwood Building Contractors to bring the historic frontage back to its former glory.

Company director Malcolm Fraser, whose previous firm Malcolm Fraser Architects won a string of RIBA architectural awards before folding five years ago, said they were still applying the finishing touches to the restoration.

Speaking to the Evening News, Mr Fraser said: “It was The Meadows Lamp Gallery, but there was evidence of really lovely tiles, etc., at the door.

The Buttercup Dairy shop and staff at 48 Warrender Park Road in the 1920s and today as the new office of Fraser/Livingstone Architects

“We did some research and discovered this was one of the best-preserved remnants of the Buttercup Dairy Co.

“Upon investigation, we took the old sign board off the front and found the old Buttercup Dairy sign underneath, which is rather fabulous looking.”

With 30 years of architectural experience, including working on heritage-sensitive projects such as the award-winning Scottish Storytelling Centre on the High Street and the Dovecot Studios project, Malcolm Fraser admits he has a passion for taking on jobs that have a link to the past.

He added: “In my work, I’ve always liked conservation repair, but then doing good modern buildings and good modern renewals of old buildings.

The Buttercup Dairy Company's shops all featured a girl and cow mural.

“To have the lovely shop front to make something which is clean and contemporary inside.

“It was a simple wee job, we weren’t looking to make it more complicated than it needed to be.”

Founded by Andrew Ewing, the Buttercup Dairy shops, with their eye-catching, art nouveau frontages and company vans, were once a ubiquitous sight on Scotland’s streets.

Prior to the closure of the last of the defunct firm’s shops in 1965, Edinburgh had several outlets, including the huge headquarters at Easter Road.

The city also boasted what was one of the largest poultry farms in the world, Clermiston’s Buttercup Poultry Farm, which had more than 200,000 hens and was known locally as “Hen City”.

Author Bill Scott, who was born and brought up at the Buttercup Poultry Farm in the 1950s, wrote a book about the history of the legendary dairy in 2011, The Buttercup.

Delighted at the return of the old signage, he said: “It’s wonderful. To have an actual, authentic Buttercup Dairy shop once more on the high street, it’s fantastic.”

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