Nostalgia: D-Day comes for Kirkcaldy in 1971.
In 1971 shoppers in Kirkcaldy had to face up to ‘D-Day’ when Great Britain switched over to using new decimal currency.
However, despite the massive change the Fife Free Press reported that shoppers on February 15 of that year “changed over to the new decimal coinage with a cheery tolerant, attitude which effectively banished the usual Monday morning blues”.
Newsagents in the town who opened early in the morning and had an extra few hours dealing with the new coins over other firms, reported that all their customers were very co-operative.
A few did not fully understand the new system, but were ready to have it explained to them, and all fully appreciated the problems of the counter staff.
Shops and stores opened later in the day and banks went back into action after closing their doors for four days to prepare for the changeover, but all said there were few difficulties reported everything going smoothly – with the only difference being that customers were more cheerful than on usual Monday mornings!
Parents of children at Viewforth Secondary School got an extra bonus when they were invited along to the school to practice using the new money at a “shop” there, before braving the hazards of real-life decimal shopping.
The changeover had come easiest of all to children, who were eager to show off their classroom training, and hardest of all for elderly people, who had not yet learned to “think decimal”.
The shop, led by pupils Carol Fernie, Jean Clarke and Janette Stevenson, incorporated a chemist’s, newsagent’s, greengrocer’s as well as a small drapery department – and did a roaring trade.
Viewforth headmaster Mr Henderson told the FFP the girls who were taking part in the course had quickly absorbed the changeover once they had put it into practice in their own shop. The conversion was run jointly by Mr Lyall, depute headmaster and Miss Calder, principal teacher of business studies.
She said: “We had heard that a few of the girls’ parents were a bit worried because of the decimals and we decided to dispel any dismay and give them some practice.”
A small bank at the school also gave parents an idea of how to fill in cheques under the new system.
Back in town to help old age pensioners over the first few decimal hurdles, girls from Templehall Junior Secondary School were out and about in shopping centres in the town on Monday, giving advice and explaining the new system.
Many customers were needing the Decimal Board’s advice to “give more – get change”.
Most shops and stores in the town had but the High Street’s Littlewoods had not yet fully embraced the change, and still accepted the ‘£ s d’ system, but the manager reported “no problems” in dealing with the dual currency.
Marks & Spencer had gone completely decimal and their manager said: “It has gone extremely smoothly – there have been very few difficulties for anyone.”