Plenty of books have been published about St Andrews, which means that any new ones have to add something a little different in order to justify their places on the bookshelf, whether in the bookshop or in your home. In our view "St Andrews At Work: People and Industries Through the Years by Gregor Stewart" succeeds in bringing something that is new and worthwhile to the table.
In his introduction, the author says: "St Andrews is known worldwide both as the home of golf and where William met Kate. This small, historic town on the east coast of Scotland does, however, have a long history, which has helped influence not just how the town has developed but also helped shape the country. With the ancient ruins of a once all-powerful Catholic church, the oldest university in Scotland and thirteen golf courses (including the world-famous Old Course), St Andrews plays host to hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, many of whom return on a regular basis. In this book the author explores how St Andrews originated and grew through the hard-working people of the town, and how its industries have changed and adapted through time."
This sums up what you get between the covers very well. The book takes a generally chronological approach, starting in the middle ages with the employment consequences of St Andrews' role as a religious centre; the beginnings of travel (and, arguably, tourism); and the university. In the 16th to 18th Centuries we look at stonemasonry, the growth of the university, fishing and the beginnings of golf. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries we look at how employment patterns already discussed developed over time, and introduce breweries into the mix. The final chapter, looking at modern St Andrews, brings us up to date. Within each chapter we find a nice blend of informative and engaging text with modern and (for the later periods) contemporary photographs.
The end result is a book that helps fill in the back-story of the St Andrews we see around us today, and is a sufficiently different to what already exists out there to be well worth recommending to anyone who lives in, or is from, or is thinking about visiting the town.