Working on the Coronation counter at Woolworths in Elgin by Marion Tawse

Woolworths_in_Elgin_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1063056Marion left school as her mother was widowed and she could not afford to send her to school any more. Her bus fare from Rothes to Elgin was paid but not the uniform costs. Her first job was working in Woolworths in Elgin on the Coronation Counter. The stall sold plastic pendants with a horrible smell and miniature coaches. She used to have an hour for lunch, which was in a canteen upstairs and was subsidised. There were various counters in the shop including Quality Street on the sweet counter. A bulb was under the salted peanuts to keep them hot. The jewellery counter had a range of inexpensive metal earrings and rings. The crockery counter sold dinner sets. On a Buckie Holiday it was always very busy. They had to make sure they were well stocked on those days. Glass tumblers were also available for sale.  The Paint counter stocked different kinds of paint. There was also a grocery counter. If you worked on this counter or the sweet counter you had to wear a white overall.  Bedding paints were sold on the paint counter and a man from Springfield used to advertise his grass seed there.

For four years she worked an an invoice clerk, then Assistant Cashier and then eventually Cashier. The Stockroom Manager escorted her to the Royal Bank of Scotland every day at different times. The wages were done in big ledgers which were kept in the safe. The Saturday takings were used to pay the wages each week. Everyone was paid weekly in cash except for the Manager.

Woolworth’s fire
An extension was being built to the shop and Marion’s office was in the Paint Store upstairs. It was an Elgin holiday (April) which meant that the shop was closed. The shop was closed for quite a while due to the fire and lorryloads of burnt/ruined stock had to be taken away. Luckily the ledgers etc…. were stored in the safe so there were retrieved from the fire and used to re-order stock. Marion and other staff had to work in the Assembly rooms above Ecosse cafe (which was an newsagent then). Here all the new stock was delivered and checked while the shop was being refurbished. Marion remembers William Bains being there. He was part of the retained Elgin Fire Brigade and well-known in the area. 

Here is a link to another memory of the Woolworths fire by Claire Wilson.

Memory contributed by Marion Tawse at the Cluny Primary Then and Now Event (May 2012)

Additional links

Link to Scottish Screen Archive-Coronation tree plantingCoronation tree planting– archive film of the event. The Tree Planting ceremony by Lossiemouth local dignitaries, including the Laird of Pitgavney and the Provost Dean.

Coronation souvenirs from 1953

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