Mackenzie Bruce’s work as a railway fitter

Mackenzie’s first job was in Old Meldrum as a railway fitter in 1952 at the age of 15. It was the only thing to do at the time. His job included repairing steam engines and repairing breaks in the lines. He earned 13 shillings a week and got two weeks holiday a year. Everything he earned went to his mother but he did get back some pocket money.

When he started the job he didn’t like the discipline. His working day started at 7 a.m. or sometimes earlier. There were no official tea or coffee breaks that he remembers. At lunchtime they played football in the yard. It took five years of serving time to be fully qualified as a railway fitter. They were using heavy machinery and the job could be dangerous. They also used a normal tool kit of spanners and hammers. After two years he had to go into the army for national service.

He became a drill instructor in Scotland and traiined recruits. He was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He was not allowed to go abroad as he was too useful as a drill instructor. He was also a drum major. They wanted to sign me on as a regular soldier but he had a girlfriend who didn’t want to marry a soldier. They did get married and went on to have four children. The two boys joined the Royal Engineers and the two girls did not.

After the army he joined the Fire Brigade and was in the service for 18 years in Aberdeen. He was also in the Territorials (Gordon Highlanders) based in Old Meldrum for 10 years. He was a drum major in Old Meldrum Pipe Band and travelled to Ellon on weekends and holidays.

McKenzie Bruce was interviewed by S2 pupils from Elgin High School


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