The above postcard image of Main Street Upper Largo shows George Mackie Dispensing Chemist to the right of centre (with the old Post Office to its right). George Mackie was born in 1863 in Methlick, Aberdeenshire. By the age of 18, he was an apprentice to druggist George Simpson in Peterhead. In 1890, George married Mary Rankin Dodds in Edinburgh and, for several years, ran a chemist there. A few years later the family relocated to Glasgow. George Mackie, Dispensing Chemist is first mentioned in the Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1895-96, operating from 73 Renfield Street, Glasgow.
Initially, the Mackies lived close to the shop at 108 Renfield Street. By 1901, George had two business premises in the city - 73 Renfield Street and 52 Jane Street (the family living at the latter). A couple of years later, the second premises had moved to 741 Pollokshaws Road and the family residence was 9 Cromwell Square. Soon, the original premises at 73 Renfield Street became the sole focus and, around 1909, the Mackies settled out of the city, in Kirkintilloch, where they remained until the 1930s. The 73 Renfield Street premises is shown below (with Mackie the Chemist overlaid onto a modern street scene). Today, the former chemist shop is an optician.
Above is a partial photograph of the frontage of Mackie's Glasgow chemist shop (image from Glasgow City Council's Virtual Mitchell). Note the elaborate window display of branded and mass produced goods, which increasingly became a part of the offering of chemist shops during his years in the business. However, Mackie would also have been using old-fashioned dispensary tools and pill-making machines - such as those shown below.
The Renfield Street shop was retained when the Mackie family moved to Upper Largo, to take over the existing chemist shop in the village from James Bowie. The bottle of 'oil of cloves' (shown in the picture below) notes both Upper Largo and 73 Renfield Street, Glasgow on the label. Clove oil is still used today to ease toothache. The Mackies lived at 'Lynwood' on Upper Largo's Main Street just a few doors along from the shop. The Upper Largo chemist business was largely run by George's daughter Betty Henderson Mackie.
James Bowie, Mackie's predecessor, had been local chemist throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. On 25 May 1935, the Fife Free Press reported that "Mr Bowie, who has carried on a chemist's business at Upper Largo for a great many years, is leaving the district. The premises will be opened soon under new management." Prior to James Bowie there had been a chemist named Peter Cowie in Upper Largo, who had died in 1917 at the age of 46. Mackie sold more besides typical chemist products - the advert below highlights that cigarettes and tobacco were available, along books and stationery.
After six years in Upper Largo, George Mackie died, aged 77, in 1941. Outside of his profession, he had been "an authority on music, having one of the finest collections of high-class musical recordings in the District", according to the Kirkintilloch Herald, which reported his death on 14 May 1941. It also noted that Mackie made musical instruments as a hobby and "for some time conducted the Players' Club Orchestra with great success". He was also an elder at Largo St David's Church. The Upper Largo Pharmacy continued to operate under his name for many years and it was only in 1975 that the business was wound up. Betty Mackie, who continued the chemist shop, died in 1983. The shop at 14 Main Street, Upper Largo, became a hairdresser, see below, before being converted into a dwelling.