Build me up, Buttercup...

Andrew Ewing. Founder of the Buttercup Dairy. Circa 1940.
Andrew Ewing. Founder of the Buttercup Dairy. Circa 1940.

ONE of the leading grocery chains of the early 1900’s is finally having its story told – and it all began in Kirkcaldy.

The Buttercup Dairy Company opened its first store at 136 Commercial Street in 1904 and a second a year later in Bowhill. Within 25 years, 250 branches had opened across the UK making it one of the most successful businesses of its kind.

Now a book has been released telling the incredible story of the company and its founder, Andrew Ewing.


Author Bill Scott, who was born and raised on the company’s farm in Edinburgh, said: “I was surprised to find that there was very little information on the Buttercup Dairy available.

“Despite it being such a massive operation Andrew Ewing did everything quietly and in secret.

‘‘So the Buttercup had virtually disappeared from history.”

Despite its huge success, the company eventually began to lose money. Bill said: “It was a combination of things but partly it was due to Mr Ewing’s generosity.

Eggs as gifts

“He had deeply held religious beliefs.

‘’He gave away all the eggs that were laid every Sunday to different causes. I reckon that to be 100,000 eggs a week.

‘‘It would have been a big financial loss.”

Andrew Ewing died in 1956 and the final Buttercup shop closed in 1965 but there are a few of the old premises remaining which still have the company’s famous cow and girl mural, including the Bowhill store which is now a David Sands.

Bill Scott remembers Andrew Ewing fondly: “I was always in awe of him but looked forward to whenever I saw him,” he said.

“He was very funny too and even in his 80s was immaculately dressed.

“I asked my cousins who grew up on the farm too if they had the same memories of him and they all said they did.”

l ‘The Buttercup – The remarkable story of Andrew Ewing and the Buttercup Dairy Company’ by Bill Scott on sale now.