Farming life by Jason Ramsay

Jason’s first job was on the family farm, Boghead, Auchindoun. He didn’t have any choice and helped his Dad in a variety of jobs. He had to clean the byre, see to the sheep, feed the cattle, plough the fields, sow the crops, pick the tatties and pull the neeps. He got paid when his Dad could afford it. He got money to go to the pictures. His working day began at 6 a.m. with a break when his mother brought out a hot drink. He went back to the farmhouse for lunch. When the weather was fine the work continued until the job was finished. He enjoyed working working with the animals. Work was a lot harder than it is now. Then they had to walk everywhere and now farmers use Quad bikes. He worked there until he retired.

Memory contributed by Jason Ramsey and collected with the help of staff at Dufftown Day Centre

Additional information
More information and the location of the farm at Auchindoun which is still in the Ramsey family.


Hotel housekeeping by Margaret Sessions

Margaret’s Father was the County Blacksmith and they lived next to the smiddy in Rathven, just outside Buckie. People brought their horses and the smiddy made implements for the farms. Her Father made her a cart with minature tools. She told the farmers that she was a blacksmith too. The highlight of every year was to go to the Keith Agricultural Show where he took lots of implements to sell. When the war started in 1939 her Father was the blacksmith at Buckie Harbour. It was a protected occupation so he wasn’t called up.

Margaret went to Buckie High School then went on to study at a Domestic Science College in Aberdeen. She also learnt housekeeping. Went on to a hotel school in Perthshire at Fortingall nr. Aberfeldy. There she learnt to be a hotel assistant and went on to be a hotel housekeeper. She went down to England to work for a family in a hotel in Tangiers Park in Basingstoke. Later she opened a guest house in Buckie called Mount Severn Guest House. She was also a receptionist at Baxters of Speyside.

Memory contributed by Margaret Sessions from Dufftown

Working on the Dunnecht Estate as a Gamekeeper by Ron Martin

Exit from Dunecht estate Into Dunecht village. licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Exit from Dunecht estate Into Dunecht village

Ron Martin being interviewed at Tomnabat
Ron Martin being interviewed by a member of staff at Tomnabat

Ron lived next door to a gamekeeper as a child and became interested from there. His first job was in 1948/49 at the age of 15 1/2 on the Dunnecht Estate, 12 miles out of Aberdeen at a bothy supplied by his employer. His job involved feeding young pheasants including working in rearing fields with broody hens sitting on their eggs. He fed and walked the dogs then cleaned their kennels. There was vermin control and rabbitting. Catching and dealing with rabbits was a daily job. Estate workers were given a tweed suit to wear. In their accommodation their lighting was paid for and they also got free firewood. A typical day would start at 7 a.m.with breakfast. Tea break was at 10.30 a.m. Ron took a piece with him for his lunch break. His day would end at 5 p.m. unless it was shooting times when it was a longer day. The job is very similar to nowadays except for lamping for foxes, which would have been frowned on in Ron’s day. Gin traps are not allowed now (they were banned in Scotland in 1971). His training was on the job by the Head Gamekeeper. He was paid 49 /- per week.

Working as a deerstalker was exciting. Lord Cowdrey was a good boss. There was high and low ground working with pheasant and grouse and fishing as well. Ron was there for three years.

Midnight sun at Buldersanden, Tromsø, Norway. Two boats and calm sea (Atlantic ocean).As well as working as a stalker he also worked as a ghillie. He went on a trip to Norway to work as a Salmon Fishing Ghillie and really enjoyed it.
Also went on a trip to the North Cape of Norway with the bosses’ son to see the Midnight Sun. The birds were out singing and the sun was a red ball in the sky.

The River Dee at Maryculter

The River Dee at Maryculter

Did Ghillie work at Maryculter and Sutherland. Both places were with the Moncrieff family although I moved around a lot. Had married accommodation in Maryculter. Worked with grouse and pheasant. In Sutherland he lived near Tongue and had good views of Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

Memory contributed by Ron Martin from Tomintoul

Rat and Rabbit Traps in Fochabers Museum

Rat and Rabbit Traps in Fochabers Museum

Additional information

Lots of lovely photographs of adult and young pheasants.

Working on Wardhead Farm in Dufftown by Jean Ramsay

Jean started work at 14 in 1950 as a farm worker. She lived on the farm where her father was a tenant farmer. The farm grew hay, potatoes and turnips. There was also a small herd of 30 cows. The working day started with breakfast at 6 o’clock. This was usually brose, which is dry oatmeal with boiling water and salt added. Sometimes there was porridge. Her work included feeding and cleaning out he hens. The eggs were sold to the local grocer. They were free range eggs as the hens were kept in a shed and allowed to go out if they wished during the day.  Isobel also fed the cattle. She drove the tractors, by then there were no horses doing this work on this farm. Her Father showed her how to put on the equipment. She also did the cooking for everyone as there were no other employees.

When she was 20 she got married to a local young farmer she had met at a young farmers club. There were dances held in Dufftown at the Memorial Hall. Her husband had a croft. They had a large store for potatoes, turnips covered in straw. On bad winters the cattle stayed in the sheds. They made jam from their raspberries and apples. There was a milk house where they made their own butter and cheese.

Memory contributed by Jean Ramsey, Dufftown

Collecting and delivering sacks of coke by Judith McMeekin

piece of coke fuel Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation LicenseJudith developed her own business at the age of 12. She grew up in Millom in Cumbria. She used an old pram or her mother’s cart to collect coke in sacks from the local gas works. The gas works were open from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock. It worked out as follows:-

20 bags of coke cost her 10/-.  She had to pay her sister 4 /- to watch the 20 bags as she loaded each of them up into the pram to deliver them. She sold the 20 bags for 20 /- or 1/- each usually getting an old bag back. If the bag didn’t come back she had to pay 1 /- to get a new bag. She had an established client list.

20 bags = 10 /-        20 bags sold for 20/- = net profit of 6 /-  (if no bags needed replacing) 
sister      =  4 /-
Total cost 14 /-        Judith always had 6 fresh bags in hand if needed.

Judith Meakin (left) and Jesse Stuart (middle) at Tomnabat

Judith Meakin (left) and Jesse Stuart (middle)

She used the money towards buying new clothes. She also had a bank account with the Midland Bank. There was a money box which was a book or a drum. The Bank held the key and they opened it when you took it and put it in your bank account.

She described being brought up by “Uncle Nab” which was the National Assistance Board (NAB). She was one of ten children. Her Father was a marine merchant and scrap dealer. He had a scrapyard. He left the home early in her life.  Her mother was crippled at this point. Her mother had a general store called Mrs Mac based in Millom. She had a small staff of people helping her. The business was on Wellington street and Lord Street. Above the shop was a 6 bedroom house and a single toilet out in the backyard. The shop was open long hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at night. One of her brothers helped to deliver newspapers. The children suffered with a variety of illnesses including a submadibular absess and boils. They also had malnutrition at some points in their young lives. Most of them went into business in later life.

Memory contributed by Jesse Meakin from Tomintoul

Additional information

National Archives Information about the National Assistance BoardThe story behind the National Assistance Act of 1948 and its attempt to help the poor whose national insurance benefits were inadequate due to inflation after the Second World War.

George MacIntosh, Grocer by Jesse Stuart

Deschar Road in the Boat of Garten

Deschar Road in the Boat of Garten

Her family had moved to Boat of Garten from Cawdor. George McKintosh Grocers were in the Boat of Garten. They were a general store and sold newspapers as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. There was also pots and pans and haberdashery. Jesse started work there in 1951 at the age of 15. She had to cut the cheese to order and wrap it up.  There was also a slicing machine for bacon. Some items were already packaged up however many products still needed to be weighed. Sugar, cereals, barley, split peas, lentils, oatmeal and porridge oats.

Judith Meakin (left) and Jesse Stuart (middle)

Judith Meakin (left) and Jesse Stuart (middle)

Cheddar Cheese came in a truckle (cylindrical) with a gauze on it. Jesse was trained to use the machines and how to mark up the products for sale. The largest markup was on the china. There sometimes had Dairylea processed cheese but not Crowdie/ The Cheese was cut into wedges and wrapped in paper. Another cheese they stocked was Gorgonzola. Cold meat was cut into slices on a meat machine. There was ham, corned beef, chopped pork and luncheon meat.  Added flour to help clean the machine.

Jesse's cut on her arm from the tin of ham

Jesse’s cut on her arm caused by the tin of ham

One day Jesse cut her arm on a tin of ham. Someone gave her a lift to the nearest doctor in Grantown where she got stitched up. She had the stitches out the next time that Dr Williams was in the Boat of Garten.

The shop also sold mash for hens, corn and kibbled maize. It didn’t sell any butcher’s meat.

Memory contributed by Jesse Stuart from Tomintoul

Additional information
Tulloch Talk– more information about George MacIntosh and his van going around collecting eggs.

Working as a community staff nurse in Forres by Helen Main

Leanchoil Hospital in Forres, Leanchoil is the cottage hospital serving the town of Forres. It mainly offers respite and palliative care and convalescence. It was designed in 1889 by John Rhind, who died before it was built, and the design was taken over and progressed by Henry Saxon Snell and Son. It was completed and opened in 1892. Helen started training as a nurse at Leanchoil Hospital in Forres in 1964. She did her training before she got married. As a child her Father had the freehold of a pub in Burghead and she worked there rolling out the barrels and cleaning from the age of 10 years old.
Once she had qualified she was paid £25 a month live out or £15 live in rate. She took nine years out to have children and returned in 1976. There was no retraining, just straight back in as an SEN. She did a conversion course about 12 years ago changing from an SEN to an SRN and working as a community nurse with her own car. There was an allowance for petrol  and she wrote down the mileage to claim it back. 

Capercaillie This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.One of her most frightening experience was when she went to see a patient near Burghead. Driving along the front windscreen suddenly went dark when something landed on the screen. It looked like a prehistoric monster. The patient she was seeing was a gamekeeper and he told her there was a nest of Capercaillie nearby.

Memory contributed by Helen Main

Working in Ballindalloch on a farm by William Morrison

William Morrison being interviewed at Aberlour Highland Games 2012 for the Memory projectWilliam started work at Burnside Farm, Ballindalloch in 1954 at the age of 14. His job was to feed the cattle and as a general labourer. He got £5 a week and a room to stay in the farmhouse. At lunchtime soup was often served. He remembers the Potato Soup.
After six months he left that job as he wanted to do more in his life. He went to work at a saw mill in Elgin. They made fish boxes and William worked out in the woodyard helping the sawyer by holding the back of the wood (= the Tailsman) as it went through the machine. He moved from this job after two years to work as a window cleaner for 3 months in Elgin.

Link to the James Mutch port top on the Ebay websiteHis next job, by which time he was 17, was working for the wholesaler, James Mutch. They were located opposite Gordon and MacPhail on South Street, Elgin. James Mutch supplied many of the bars with food, catering supplies, spirits, beers and wines. He stayed there fo about three years. His next job was for the Cardhu Distllery at Knockando. He worked in the malt barn turning the barley before it goes up in the kiln to be dried. His working day was from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with three drams a day. The brewer poured each drink out into a tumbler. It was clearic i.e. new made whisky before it has been in a cask. Dramming took place three times a day morning, lunch and one at the end. At Christmas/New Year he got a special dram of whisky that was put in its barrel during Queen Victoria’s reign and was still good. He also got a free bottle of whisky. He was there until June 1961.

Additional Information

Libindx has a number of records on a saw mill in Elgin on Edgar and Wards Road during the 1950s and 60s. If you do a building search and put in sawmill as the building name and Elgin as the location. Then choose the last of the three mills (the other two are from the late 1800s) – Ref No. PN026086

Mutch Family Legacy– James Mutch’s widow left a large legacy to the National Trust in 2012 to be spent in Moray and Aberdeenshire.
More information about the Mutch Family Business in Elgin from the Edinburgh Gazette in 1914.
Obituary of James Mutch in 1906 who started up the James Mutch wholesale business in Elgin.

Ernest’s first job as a rocket scientist

Ernest MacIntosh being interviewed at Aberlour Highland Games 2012 for the Memory projectErnest McIntosh graduated from Heriott Watt University in Edinburgh with a BSc in Chemistry. He was 22 and it was 1958. He was due to go into National Service or he could work for the government researching rocket fuels. In National Service he would have earned 27 /- 6d (£ 2  37 1/2p) a week and as a rocket scientist 10 guineas ( £10.50) per week. He chose the latter and went to work at the Royal Naval Scientific Service at Carwent nr. Newport and Chepstow. Ernest was interested in rockets due to Von Braun‘s research.

Black Knight Rocket on display in Edinburgh Source Permission (Reusing this file) Released into the public domain (by the author).

Black Knight Rocket on display in Edinburgh

His main work involved looking into the storage of rocket fuel. Over time the fuel becomes unstable and increasingly dangerous to store. He used inch-cubes of the fuel and artificially aged them in a bunker by subjecting them to temper and humidity. Then the breakdown products could be identified.Rocket fuel was only used by Black Knight and Blue Streak at that time. He was going to submit his research on the shelf life of rocket fuel for an MSc but he left the Naval work in 1960 to move to Newcastle. He wanted to be nearer his fiance who lived in Scotland. He couldn’t find a job using his skills in Scotland at the time.

Memory contributed by Ernest McIntosh from Aberlour

Additional links

There are lots of books in the local libraries about Space and Rocket Development.

NASA Kids ClubNASA Kids Club– Here are opportunities to explore Space and find out why we want to find out about Space.
Edwin Hubble- groundbreaking Astronomer who found evidence that the universe was expanding.
Werhner Von Braun- rocket scientist and aerospace engineer

Rocket Fuel websiteRocket Fuel information- website which discusses different types of rocket fuel. Rocket Propellant Information- lots of information on the history of Rocket Fuel.


RocketVisual Dictionary – Copyright © 2005-2011 – All rights reserved.

Delivering pails of milk in Edinvillie by Aileen Garrow

Aileen was born into a farming family in Edinvillie in 1932. They owned Bush Farm in Edinvillie. Aileen’s first job was delivering pails of milk to three cottages in Edinvillie. Each house had their own pail (2 large and one small). Her Father milked their two Black Irish Cows each morning to fill the pails. From the age of 8 or 9 Aileen carried the three pails with her on her way to the local primary school in Edinvillie. The three families (Hume, Ellice and Grays) lived in Milton of Edinvillie and everyone spoke Doric. Each day Aileen was paid 6d per pail for the milk. At the end of each schoolday she returned to pick up their clean empty milk pail ready for the next day’s milk. Other people had their own cow to provide their milk. Milk would vary in consistency such as when the cows went out to grass in the summer. Her Father grew different types of grass for the cows to eat. Once she was ill and unable to do her round and they gave her the money anyway. She thinks her Father took the milk. She felt very guilty because she hadn’t delivered it herself.

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school   © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Source:

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

At that time in the 1940s Edinvillie Primary School had about 40 children. There had been 70 children in her Father’s time there. It closed in 2000 when there were only 9 pupils. It had a Big End and a Wee End for the younger children (4 1/2 upwards). Each day Aileen took a bottle of milk (usually a camp coffee bottle).  Many children took half full used bottles of whisky for their milk. This was placed on the windowsill, which could sometimes be in the full sun. The children also took a play piece to eat and nothing else for the day at school. It could be a hard boiled egg, a softie with butter and jam or an apple if it was the season. Aileen met an old school friend recently who said she used to covet Aileen’s regular hard boiled eggs (a benefit of living on a farm). At Bush Farm they also made their own butter and jam (only limited by the sugar which was on ration). During the winter months the children were provided with a soup dinner paid for by funds raised by the Soup Dinner Committee.They made money from whist drives and concerts. Local farmers donated vegetables including neeps and tatties. The money raised was used for the purchase of peas, beef and bread. It also paid for a cook and a set of little soup bowls. Aileen remembers eating lentil and bacon, broth, yellow split pea soup and tattie soup. Being further from the coast they didn’t have Cullen Skink (smoked haddock soup). The bread came from a bread van from Walkers of Aberlour. It arrived on Tuesday and Friday travelling round all the houses. Although many people often made their own bread they still bought softies, plain loaves, butteries, and queen cakes.

When she was 9 she had another job in the fields of the farm. She learnt how to build sheaves of oats and barley. The farm had a Clydesdale Horse and a 2 wheel wooden cart.  The sheaves were forked into the cart when Aileen stood. She had to place them head down to “heart it up first”. She created circles turning round and round the bottom of the cart in a spiral. The heart holds everything together and eventually everything came level inside the cart with Aileen climbing on top. At the farmyard everything was lifted off and formed into a stack. During the farming year there were (and still are in places) ploughing matches and stacks were exhibited.

Aileen stayed on at school into secondary at Aberlour and completed her Higher Leaving certificate. She was not very good at maths. Mr Miller was her Maths teacher. She sat the Lower Maths in secondary in Class 4.  She then went on to do her Higher English, Arithmetic, French, German, Latin and History in Class 6 at Secondary. She went on Aberdeen University to study Arts and later a Masters with honours in English Language and Literature. Her first year involved the study of English, French and German. Second yr- Advanced English, German and Latin. Third year- Junior Honours year- English and Moral Philosophy. Final year- Honours English. She then completed her teacher training at Aberdeen Training College in Psychology, Education and Biology. Her first job was at Narin Academy teaching Higher English. She stayed there her whole teaching career. She did stop in 1961 to help her mother on the farm after her Father suddenly passed away. By then the family had two farms, Bush and Upperton. Mr Grieve was a manager and he ran both farms for them. In 1965 her mother died and she returned to teach at Nairn Academy commuting from Bush Farm. Later she got married to James “Grantie” Garrow and he moved into Bush farm. He came from a local farming family, the Grant-Garrows and she had known him since they were both children.

Memory contributed by Aileen Garrow from Fochabers

Additional Information

The Tale of the Cheeryble Grants written by Aileen Garrow

Farming work
Australian_cart  Taken by fir0002 | Source  Details of licensing is here“Arranging the sheaves on the cart was very skilled as well – as with rick-building the sheaves had to be arranged carefully or the cartload or rick collapsed” source: Dorset Life website
Another link to an e-book about stacking sheaves
Stacking on a two wheeled cart- some pictures of farming in the 1930s.

Edinvillie 50th Dinner Dance
Edinvillie 50th anniversary Dinner danceAileen spoke at the dinner on 14th August 2009 about the early days of the Village Hall.
“Mr Burns then called upon Aileen Garrow, a former resident of Edinvillie, who spoke about the early days of the Hall, remembering many of the personalities who had contributed to its successes.”

History of Edinvillie School

Edinvillie history website featuring the school Source:

Edinvillie History website featuring the school

Here is a website with information about the History of Edinvillie School.