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The Decline And Fall Of St Andrews Culture

Much like your flatmates’ expired dairy products, lost to the back of the fridge, St Andrews has a unique and thriving culture growing within it — albeit one generally more tolerable. Yet across four tumultuous years in this Petri dish of privilege, the town I know and love has perhaps undergone a troubling transition.


The influx of immense international wealth — I assume coming mostly from across the pond — has changed the cultural fabric of the town. The HMO drought and the University’s continued acceptance of students it cannot accommodate have caused seemingly exponential increases in rent. Local businesses feel the squeeze and either can’t help cashing in or are forced to sell up. Students and locals, unwilling or unable to pay these extortionate property prices, are forced further from town. Meanwhile, the internationals with pockets of unfathomable depth stump up the cash, and I can’t say I blame them. 

It’s a phenomenon one might call ‘yankification’. As a result of this rampant, primarily US-driven commercialisation, some memorable establishments have met their end without replacement. The Russell Hotel has suffered at the hands of this, although it was sold to an Edinburgh-based property developer. Renowned for its views, cherished for its cheerful staff, and beloved for its uncanny ability to go undetected by the yearly pestilence of freshers, the Russell is regrettably no more. Meanwhile, St Andrews’ independent cinema, the New Picture House, appears destined to die as well — set to be replaced by yet another boozer, catering primarily to American golfers. Funnily enough, this enterprise is even spearheaded by American golfer Tiger Woods. One only has to glance at the menu of the One Under Bar for evidence of this American-led transition — what the f*ck is a ‘Prawn Corn Dog’?!

Adopting a looser definition of establishment permits me to consider the unfortunate fate of 111B, St Andrews’ house party hotspot. I fondly recall when I was but a fresh-faced second year. That home — nay, that palace of partying, that residence of rapture — was inhabited by a quintet of fun-loving now fourth years who single-handedly revitalised the post-Covid party and afters scene. They did so for nearly every event on the social calendar, both major and minor. In doing so, they created a community, elevated St Andrews’ nightlife, and continued a legacy. Now, in fairness, the current occupiers do their bit. Their efforts are appreciated, and are an improvement on the previous year — but, frankly, the inhabitants of the local hospice would have been an improvement too. 

For the other half, 601’s closure (albeit necessary) has also contributed to the demise of a culture for the legions of knuckle-dragging oiks who lay siege to it each Wednesday… though I’m sure balance will eventually be restored to the centre of their ‘cultural’ universe.


In other arenas, Tesco’s introduction of a bouncer has quelled a sub-culture of shoplifting, which — incidentally — coincides with a decrease in my flat’s smoked salmon consumption. Meanwhile, people have started studying in the Dunvegan… sorry, what?! 

More pressingly, St Andrews has been at the heart of a media frenzy of late which, in my view, does (and will) result in a cultural decline. For example, I’ve read Tatler articles written about my friends. At the same time, there are whisperings — more accurately, talks — of a documentary on our lives here as students being produced, threatening to unearth and therefore suffocate the peculiarities of our way of life and categorically dispel all comparisons to Oxbridge once and for all. 


All is not lost, however. The pillars undergirding our strange existence here as students remain more or less intact; friendship groups continue to be beyond incestuous, the Royals are still educating their progeny here, and our student body remains as innovative as ever. I take the entrepreneurial Los Tacos as a prime example of this — a student enterprise filling a gaping hole in St Andrews’ food and catering market. That said, efforts must be made by students, locals, and authorities to conserve this town’s culture at every level before it’s too late.

Illustration by: Lauren White

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