D & J MacEwen & Co., Family Grocers and Wine Merchants, Dumbarton Road and Port Street

D & J MacEwen’s grocery shop and wine and spirits merchant business was founded by brothers Daniel and James MacEwen in 1794. The Archives holds a customer account book dating from 1799 that has to be one of the earliest records of a grocery shop in Scotland. The volume gives details of orders made to the shop and the names of customers. Entries give an indication of the diversity of the produce sold. The first entry showing the grocery order for John Stewart of Kippen includes tobacco, rope, tea, ink, snuff, soap and sugar.

Their original premises was on Broad Street, at that time the commercial centre of the town. MacEwen’s was Stirling’s main grocery shop for the first quarter of the 19th century and in the 1840s, the family purchased the site at Port Street and constructed a larger shop there to expand the business. This in turn was demolished in the 1890s to make way for the building that stands on the site to this day. The plans featured date from 1901 when the shop front was remodelled.

The firm prospered, importing tea direct from China into Stirling’s harbour in the 1830s and opening branches throughout Stirlingshire, Perthshire and as far north as Inverness, through the later 19th century.

As well as selling groceries, a large part of the company’s business concerned the sale of wine and spirits. The MacEwens sold wines from all over the world and specialised in whisky from all over Scotland. They also produced and bottled their own blend known as ‘Sterlini’. This was a 10 year old blend, produced from several of the most well-known highland distilleries and matured on the premises in sherry wood. The product was sold to various local and national hostelries and shipped abroad to British colonies in India, Africa and Canada. The brothers also ran an important grain, fertiliser and animal feed business, importing guano from Peru as fertiliser that was used in agricultural areas across Scotland.

Photographs held at the Archives show what a beautiful interior the shop had and illustrate how goods were displayed and sold. The company continues to trade to this to this day, although not as a family grocers. It now trades as a property and investment company based in Callander, under the name D & J MacEwen & Co Ltd.

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11 thoughts on “D & J MacEwen & Co., Family Grocers and Wine Merchants, Dumbarton Road and Port Street

  1. Always loved the wonderful smell of coffee when I passed McQueens. GReat meeting place for boyfriend of the moment .

    1. Hi Sadie, Thank you for your comment on our blog, a wonderful evocative memory of Stirling. The smell of fresh coffee is so good!

      Best wishes,
      Stirling Archives

  2. her worked in D & J Mc Ewans circa early 1960’s . Where can I access some pictures…if there are any! Was there also one in Bridge of Allan?

    1. Hello Angela,
      Thank you for posting your comment on our blog. We have some pictures of the shop in our collection that date from around 1910, nothing from the 1960s though, unfortunately. There was a D&J McEwans shop in Bridge of Allan as I understand it, yes.
      I hope this is helpful.
      Best regards,
      Stirling Archives

  3. Thank you for your interesting and enjoyable archive article. If I may correct a small point: the company never actually “folded”. It continues to trade to this day as a property and investment company, albeit as D & J MacEwen & Co Ltd (Incorporated as a limited company in the early 1920’s) We retain a number of properties across Scotland, some of which we originally traded from. The Company is headquartered in Callander. My ancestors, Daniel and James MacEwen did indeed fund the company in 1794 and I am immensely proud of the fact that the Company is still owned and managed by the MacEwen family to this day.
    Once again, thank you for your interesting article.

    Regards
    Patrick J MacEwen
    Director, D & J MacEwen & Co Ltd

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Thank you for your reply to our article on your Company’s history. It’s is great to know that the legacy of D & J MacEwan continues to this day. I have updated the article to include this information.

      Regards,

      Stirling Archives

  4. Just found a photo of one of your store fronts in a frame in my late father’s boxes of stuff. Please email me and I will send you a photo of it!

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your comment and for letting us know about the picture. If you would like to email us with a copy, we would love to see it. Our address is: –

      archive@stirling.gov.uk

      Thank you again for getting in touch.

      Best regards,
      Stirling Archives.

  5. Does anyone have any information on john H Dallas. I have a letter of his addressed to this company in 1916 from the the trenches in France. Perhaps he worked there. Thanks Brian

  6. The BT Digital Archives have an image of a Post Office in Scotland online which they have provisionally marked as possibly Greenock but “Callander Post Office” can be seen on the window.
    It is part of the same building as D&J MacEwen & Co and a Temperance Hotel. I was trying to located it on the map / Streetview so I could inform them but I don’t know Callander well enough. It is dated 1908
    Reference TCE 361/ARC 1383

  7. Love reading the lovely comments about my ancestors. Have vague memories of being taken into the shop on Port Street by my dad, Daniel E MacEwen.
    Sadly, my Grandaddy Daniel (Tersius) MacEwen died when I was still young so I couldn’t ask him about the business.

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