St Andrews Through Time by locally based author Helen Cook successfully adds a new dimension to this best known of all Fife towns: which as the title implies is time. St Andrews has a great deal to offer residents and visitors, and as you wander round the town there is so much of historical interest on view that it is easy to believe that little can have changed over the last century or so.
Helen Cook proves that to be far from the case. Amberley Publishing's "Through Time" series is a format that does a great job of bringing the past to life in a very immediate way. In the case of St Andrews, the author has in some cases chosen to pair historical photographs with identically framed modern images, where this serves to illustrate a particular point. In many cases, however, Helen Cook has taken a more flexible approach, and the result is a book which neatly combines "then and now" comparisons on the one hand with many fascinating old images of St Andrews, and, especially, of the people who lived here. What emerges is a fascinating and enjoyable portrayal of St Andrews and its residents during the period since photographers first began to point their cameras at the town, helped along by extensive and informative captions.
As you amble gently through the St Andrews that emerges from the pages of this book, it is the images which show the life of the town that really leap off the page. One magnificent photograph shows the bustle in the yard at D.S. Ireland's Brewery in Argyle Street in about 1890, with horse drawn carts being loaded with barrels of beer. Others show the Lammas Market and Fair; activity in the harbour; aeroplanes operating from West Sands; the long defunct gasworks and railway station; and, of course, golfers. There are also some surprises. For us, a particularly unexpected picture was one showing the large Priory House, which, until it was demolished in 1957, stood between the Cathedral and the rest of the town.