End of an
era as old
firm closes

by Bob Geddes

One of the few remaining family firms in Dumfries is closing down this month and it will mark the end of an era in the agricultural and rural world of the South West.

The firm, of K. S. Dobie & Son was founded in 1889 when the present owner's great grandfather lost his job and started up as a hay, straw, grain and potato merchant.

The present owner, Kirkpatrick Harold Dobie is the fifth generation of the family to carry on the business which was started by Kirkpatrick Smith Dobie and which is closing down this week.

Like many such firms K. S. Dobie & Son had to specialise to combat the growing competition from large firms which sprang up in the decades following the last world war. Their extensive shop and mill premises in Loreburn Street, Dumfries, have been a famous landmark over the years.

The Dobies had farmed Dalruscan and Hardbush and go back in Tinwald to the Reformation when Alexander Dobie was a member of the first Kirk Session in 1550-1560. A ruinous family quarrel had cost the old man his prospects and this was the first time any of them had ever lived on the streets.

The father of the present owner, K. L. (Kirkie) Dobie who lives in the town and is renowned for his poetry and other writing works, went into the firm in 1932 after some time in banking.

Gradually through the years in addition to their grain and other farm supplies which were delivered and taken all over the South of Scotland, the business was expanded to include pet foods, tropical fish and garden supplies and they were renowned for the game foods.

"Gamekeepers came from all over the area to Dumfries on a Saturday and they used to come into the mill on a Saturday night. It was a focal point for these men, gamekeepers, manly men, servants but not servile."

"The firm, though small, had a wide connection particularly with what too, is in decline; the country houses and their ambience -- stables, kennels, and above all, gamekeepers", added Kirkie who recently celebrated his diamond wedding.

They supplied a wide range of cattle feeds, poultry, pig, game-foods and other animal feeds and also moved into poultry, where chicks were reared to around five weeks and sold. In 1968 there was a staff of 12 in the mill upstairs, the shop and office.

The present owner, also called Kirkpatrick went into the business 30 years ago and took over control when Kirkie retired at the age of 65.

News story © Copyright by the Dumfries Courier.