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Lost Edinburgh: John Menzies, Princes Street 1996

John Menzies much loved Princes Street branch closed its doors for the final time in 1998.

John Menzies much loved Princes Street branch closed its doors for the final time in 1998.

  • by David McLean
 

IMMORTALISED during the opening scene of hit Brit-flick Trainspotting, John Menzies’ vast flagship store on Princes Street was the place to shop for a whole generation of Edinburgh’s citizens for over 20 years up until its closure in 1998.

Its iconic angled glass frontage, as seen in our main picture, is instantly recogniseable to anyone over the age of 25 with an EH postcode. Menzies was the shop that seemed to sell just about anything - and plenty of it. Its magazines section stretched out for aisle after aisle, the toys department rivalled Jenners for sheer choice and the extensive music department was where many an Edinburgh teenager purchased their first record. The upstairs area even boasted a large café - a nod to the past as the premises had previously been the site of Mackie’s Tearooms. John Menzies was also the first stop for office stationery and of course ‘Back to School’ goods - You knew where to go if you urgently required a pencil case or tidy tub!

The store closed in 1998 and the company now focuses on their distribution and aviation branches, having all but moved away from the world of retail. However, the head office is still located above their former Princes Street premises, today a Next outlet. They may no longer be the newsagent kings of Scotland, but John Menzies still lives on.

 

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