Monday, November 23, 2009

Request for information: Morganti family businesses in Nairn, summer 1940.‏

Received this morning at Gurn digital head-quarters:

Hi, I'm hoping that a mention on your blog could produce an answer to this question. The Morganti family ran businesses on Nairn High Street in the 1940s. There was a cafe where the Thai Cottage now operates, and a fish and chip shop now run as the Dolphin. The Morganti family eventually sold up and left the town. But specifically in the Summer of 1940, I'm trying to find out if what is Ashers Cafe today, was then another Morganti business, an ice-cream parlour. To remember this, takes a person at least aged 78 or so, and I opinions seem to vary. I've also been told that it was a fishmonger and game dealer at that time. Of course, the Morgantis may have acquired it a little later on, or even after the war. I would be grateful if anyone with a long memory could give a definitive answer.

Thanks, Jim

PS. I'm attaching a pic of Ashers Cafe, if that might jog someone's memory.


Anonymous said...

My memory thinks Yac did not open it as a cafe (next to Liptons?) until the 60's??

Graisg said...

Hi Jim something for you perhaps:

Conversation with one of our regular unreliable readers this evening and he revealed that he worked in the Morganti chipper in 54/55 thereabouts.
The building now housing Ashers was originally in the Morganti family possession until they moved down the brae, pre-war flit according to our source.
It then became Holden's fish shop. Jac moved into the building 53/54? and as the sign was taken down from the fish shop the original Morganti sign was still there.

more from our unreliable source(s) later perhaps

Anonymous said...

Where Ashers is now used to be Morganti's Ice cream parlour, cafe and a restaurant through the back to the right (past the cafe bit)
But that was, oh the 70s and 80s.
The chip shop (now the Dolphin) was run by Ratsio and Maria pea'a cant remember the old manny's name, but it was owned by Jac.

Graisg said...

Jim, this from Hamish and also posted above in a new thread:

The following does not answer directly the enquiry regarding the Morganti/Asher’s shops but if may be at least of some interest.

Since long before the war started in 1939 Morganti had a shop on the Brae. It was sited on the left hand side looking down from Gordon Street and was quite a large premises, Access was into the shop area from where confectionery, ice cream, cigarettes, postcards and the like could be purchased.
At the back of the shop was a room – fairly large – where tea and cakes were served but other than during the holiday season it was not in use much as I recall. That room also had access from Gordon Street

In addition to this Sunday newspapers could be bought from the shop. Campbell’s and Strachan’s probably did not open on that day of the week. Apart from selling newspapers over the counter arrangements existed for four or five young lads to be given papers on a sale or return basis. Each lad has his own ‘round’ of something in the region of twenty deliveries to make and for every dozen papers sold he was paid two pence. (The figures may not be absolutely exact but they are very close. Two pence is correct but maybe ten was the number but then since we did not have decimalisation then a dozen may be correct)
There was quite a waiting list for vacancies that were only filled when a boy got full time work as an apprentice or an errand boy in say Cooper’s or Rose Brother’s or joined one of the Armed Forces .

During the war years the shop and the tea room was very popular with R.A.F. personnel who were based at Brackla as a rendezvous with local girls and to quote one of them “the only place in Nairn for somewhere to go”

In the light of that certain knowledge the business did not move from the High Street to the Brae

The shop shown in the Blog may well have been Haldane’s fishmonger shop. That shop certainly was in row between Lipton’s and Falconer’s Lane and was there before the war started. I was acquainted with Findlay Ross
who was the manager there before going with the local “Terriers” to France in 1939 and being taken prisoner at Dunkirk I think.. The shop may well have been occupied by the Victoria Wine Company before Haldane’s took it over.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see Yac getting remembered as at the time of his sudden passing back in 1995,apart from the notice Zita put in the paper not much else was said of such a prominent character of the town.My knowledge of the chip shop at 69 high st was Guiseppe and his wife Maria pia with help of Maria's dad Iratzio managed the shop until 1984,before that Pellegrino had run it for Jacapo.

Graisg said...

Yes anon, there isn't much mention these days of the institution that was Jac's chip shop, cafe and van operation although it was for so long an important part of the Nairshire landscape.
If anyone has any photos of Jac's heyday please send them to the Gurn, we'd be happy to publish them, also any memories.
I remember at Jac's service the description of the journey he made to Nairn from Italy as a young man, all the way by train with just some fruit for sustainance It must have been an incredible jouney at the time.
One other memory, I remember the time Jac was bothered by one or two neer do wells trying to get through the roof of the cafe at night. He said he stayed in the cafe overnight one time and actually had the pleasure of battering a would-be thief around the legs with a big stick when he got stuck trying to get in.
And then there was the time he reportedly fired the shotgun onto corregated iron up at his house and scared the s*** out of two folk trying to get the fags out of his van. I gather they made a sound like a scythe going through the crop as they run across the nearby cornfield for their lives.

Jim said...

Having made the original request for information here, I'd just like to say thanks to those who have replied. The details provided have given me what I needed to know. There's obviously much more interesting history here - Jac Morganti seems to have arrived in Nairn in the thirties, worked very hard, raised a large family, and run some good businesses, as well as sponsoring a successful football team. He's worth a book to himself, I think.

Murd Dunbar said...

Re Morganti Chip shops: the first one that I can remember was at the top of Harbour Road in Shaw's close? run at one time by Greata Morganti and later by Bretie for Mrs Morganti I worked with him in the mid fifties. The one on the High street was originally Brills sweetie shop converted late fifties to chip shop known as Mains.
Later it was taken over by Jac at a later date. I would question the time he arrived in Nairn pretty sour it was about 1954 and he was about19 but I could be wrong.

Hamish said...

I'm becoming somewhat confused as to whether or not Jac was born in Nairn or did he arrive there in the 1930's.

I recall the wedding of Greta Wallace and "Bimbo" Marganti c.1937

Could it be that Jac was an offspring of that marriage?

Delnyrose said...

This comment is addressed to either Graisgh or Hamish as I am not sure who posted the comment referring to Findlay Ross, fishmonger in Nairn. My Grandfather William Ross born in Ontario, Canada was a 1st cousin of Findlay Ross of Nairn. I would be interested in any information that you might have to share about Findlay Ross and his family during his time in Nairn. I do know that he had a son, Brian (Campbell?) Ross born in the 1950's and that he was married to Bathia McDonald who worked as an assistant in a bookshop in Nairn. I am very much looking forward to hearing from you. I am a retired librarian and genealogist located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Graisg said...

@ Delny Rose. Can you send a contact email address to ?
Hamish has some information about Findlay Ross

Graisg said...

Hi Delny Rose, here's some information from Hamish:

"I got to know him when I worked in McKay’s garage in Courthouse Lane. He had a 250 cc Excelsior motorbike and garaged it with us during the time he was at work.
Don’t know anything regarding his family background except that he lived in a cottage in Delnies. The cottage was typical of the many to be seen in the country outside the town and he may have had a sister with the name Jean. He did have a sister.
I’m reasonable sure that he served an apprenticeship in the Highland fish shop in Leopold Street following which he worked In Haldane’sfish shop in High Street until war broke out.
I think he may have been in the Nairn branch of the Territorial Army but I do known that he served in France in the very early part of the war and was taken prisoner of war near to Dunkirk in 1940. As a prisoner he worked as a farm labourer on a farm in Poland until repatriated and returned home to Nairn. He did tell me that the Polish family treated him as one of the family and that he saw little or nothing of his prisoners.
I met him late 1945 when I was on leave and write what I say regarding his time as a p.o.w. from him then."