The Café & Shop Today

For a number of years the café was run entirely by volunteers made up mostly of people from the Congregation.

For the last three years the Café and Shop still have a compliment of volunteers from across the whole community. They are supported by our Café Manager and Assistant Café Managers who are employed.

Our ethos is to provide a place where people can come for great quality coffee and food, sourced, as far as possible, locally and the companies have a good reputation for high quality products.

This is also a place where our volunteers can come and be with other people; they can learn new skills, or revise their skills to enable them to continue to volunteer here or to look for other employed work. We offer the opportunity to gain qualifications whilst working and are looking to expand our employability programme. Whilst here volunteers also receive a meal and other benefits too. We couldn’t do what do without the dedication and time of our volunteers.

We also operate a ‘Suspended Coffee” programme which enables our customers to buy and gift a coffee/hot drink to those who are in need and would not otherwise be able to come here. The Shop which is located in the Café offers a wide range of Cathedral themed gifts, from cards, coasters, magnets and mugs to our exclusive Inverness Cathedral tartan scarves, as well as a selection of local photographs and prints from local photographers to locally made jewellery and soap and other cards and gifts- all are available for purchase in store. At present we don’t have a mail order facility.

History of the Café & Shop

The building which is now the Cathedral Café & Shop began life as the Boys School. It was built in 1871/2 in the grounds of the Cathedral; and was opened as a school in October 1872. The present public car park was the school grounds. Before 1872 the boys were taught elsewhere, but the location has not yet be identified. A Cathedral Girls’ School had been opened in 1857 in King Street nearby. The two schools were amalgamated in 1946 on the King Street site, from which time the former Boys’ School became a hall for the use of the Cathedral.

The building was originally two classrooms, divided in the early days by a curtain, and in more modern times by a glass-windowed sliding partition. Evidence of the two rooms and the partition remain in the metal plates in the floor against the walls, which provided the sockets for the hinges for the doors. The toilets (called ‘offices’ in Victorian days) were outdoors between the school and the wall of the Northern Meeting Park.

Pupil numbers in the early days varied from around 40 to around 100. There would have been one teacher, assisted by teenage pupil-teachers and monitors, working with pupil groups when the teacher was engaged with other groups. The clergy, their wives and their daughters, also assisted with teaching of scripture and music (singing). The most significant name amongst the teachers was Thomas Todd, who became a pupil teacher in 1881, and after qualification obtained a job as a teacher in London. He later returned to Inverness and the Cathedral Boys’ School, and retired in the 1930’s. The official School log books exist from May 1870 until 1943.

Some of the boy pupils formed the treble section of the Cathedral choir, and would sing services in the Cathedral as required, especially on Sundays (when Matins and Evensong would be sung by the full choir). On feast days, such as St Andrew’s Day 1870, and Easter Monday 1871, choirboys also sang at a morning service. Occasionally the boys were excused lessons on weekdays to sing for weddings and funerals.

A copy of the Cathedral Boys’ School Roll of Honour from the First World War is on display in the porch of the building.