Working George Sellar in Huntly by Barbara Wilson

At school she studied shorthand typing along with other commercial subjects. Her first job was in the office at George Sellars when she was 16 in 1941. There were no windows, no distractions and she worked in silence. She stayed at the Agricultural Machinery firm for 4 years. Just as the war ended she went to work for a marine engineering firm in Macduff. She stayed there from 1945-1949. Next she went to work for the Police HQ in Banff. The first person she met at the door sent her away as she was too early and she had to go for a walk then come back later. Their relationship improved after that and they eventually married.  Her husband, Constable Steven was a rural policeman and when they got married they were able to live in a police house. In those days usually women had to stop work when they married. Policemans’ wives would answer their police house phone. The call could be a request for police assistance. They would need to know where their husband was to pass on the message remembering of course there were no mobile phones then.  Later in 1970 she worked for Ladiesbridge Hospital at Whitehills for people with learning difficulties.

Memory contributed by Barbara Wilson, Cullen

Additional information

Information about the recent re-development of Ladiesbridge Hospital for apartments.


Working as a nursery nurse in Tottenham by Iris Coleman


Flash Gordon source: wikicommons

Iris started work in 1953 at the age of 15. She worked as a nursery nurse and then when she turned 16 she went to work in an Insurance Office. Her next job was for Pearsons in Enfield where she was in the china department. She also worked as an usherette at one of the cinemas in Luton. She enjoyed seeing the Pathe news and the trailers along with the famous Pearl and Dean music which played as it does now in front of the adverts.She never sold the icecream. It was served by girls on their trays. Often there would be two films running continuously and you could go in at any time. A lot were war films and cowboy films. Saturday morning was 6d (sixpence) and was for children. There were serials such as Flash Gordon and films starring Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Memory contributed by Iris Coleman, Cullen

Betsy’s first job in service in Findochty

Betsy’s first job was in domestic service in Findochty during the late 1930s. Her mother had got the job for her. Life then was very different to now. She remembers there was no sewing or knitting on a Sunday, no playing cards or washing clothes. As a girl she was expected to help in the house unlike her 12 brothers. She wasn’t allowed to go to the cinema until she was older. Later Betsy lived in Cullen. She remembers life at Christmas time. She hung up her stocking at Christmas but her mother wanted her to hang it up at Hogmanay instead. In 1940 she went to Aberdeen to train as a nurse. There was no pay for the first three months. While she was a nurse she met her husband Adam, who was a Captain in the Merchant Navy.

Memory contributed by Betsy Addison, Cullen

James Taylor’s memory of being a chief cook on a fishing boat out of Portgordon

James left school at the age of 14 1/2 and went to work on the boats in 1947. His first boat was the “Red castle BCK 89” which was a type of drifter. He sailed from Portgordon. He worked as Cook, fireman and then later Skipper and mate. When he was a cook the main meals were stew made with vegetables and meat. They had to sail near Stornaway at night as the water was too clear there and the fish would avoid the nets.he also remembers following fish the herring around the coast ending up at Yarmouth. The fishing quines moved with their families in the same way but they travelled by land and what they needed was carried on the boats. When a big catch came out of Ullapool or Loch broom a layer of salt was added to the catch and the fish was pack into barrels. the hands of the quines could be red raw with the salt. Whole families moved Orkney/Grimsby/Yarmouth. In the summer the fishing was out of Stornaway.  The herring were measured in baskets with four baskets being a cran.

Fishing life
It was a hard life working on the fishing boats. James wore an oily type of gansey. When you picked up the tar ropes with bare hands they stuck to the skin. Pentland Firth had very rough dangerous water. You could mis-judge the tide. the tides changed and a lot of lives could be lost. Had to learn very quickly.

Memory contributed by James Taylor, Cullen

Additional information

Ivor Gault’s Fish website– A personal website talking about the Fishing Industry in the North-East. Although it is a long scrolling page there is a lot of good historical information lower down the page.

Link to the Moray Firth Gansey projectMoray Gansey Project
This three year project, drawn up by the Moray Firth Partnership, focuses on the tradition of hand knitted ganseys in the Moray Firth’s fishing communities as a way of preserving this important part of our culture and introducing the craft – and the area’s wider fishing heritage – to new audiences

More information about the knitting of ganseys – site based in Great Yarmouth

BBC article about Ganseys and use of unique patterns for each placeBBC article about ganseys and the reason behind the wide range of specific patterns used.


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

Ruby’s work for a shoe manufacturer in Glasgow

Ruby was brought up in the East End of Glasgow in a nice house. It had an entrance and two rooms. One room was the kitchen and there was a box bed in the wall with a curtain. Her parents slept in there. She learnt to type and had shorthand lesson to help here find a job. She got an office job in 1940 when she was 14, where she was able to use her newly learnt skills.

Memory contributed by Ruby, Aberlour

Additional Information

Glasgow tenement recess beds information from the Glasgow Story website.
National Trust have a tenement house to visit in Glasgow

Working in the office at Woolworths by Shirley Biffin

Link to the Woolworth museum websiteShirley worked in the office at Woolworths in Portsmouth. She started work there at the age of 16 in 1956. Her job was to go down to about 20 tills and balance them. The men took the money down to the bank.  Once Shirley got married she moved with him to Lossiemouth. He was in the Navy and at that time the base was part of the Royal Navy and was called HMS Fulmar. She did dressmaking at home for her family and friends. Later in life she worked in a men’s shop where one of her jobs was to shorten men’s trousers for 50p a pair.

Memory contributed by Shirley Biffin, Aberlour

Other links

Information on HMS Fulmar (RNAS Lossiemouth)

Heather Carson’s work as a Matron’s secretary

Heather CarsonHeather’s first job was at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. It was just after the war and she was 15 years old. She had to interview the patients. The Matron told her to talk to the mother if they needed more details than the child could tell her. One day she spotted her Father’s nephew and was able to take him home when he was well enough. Later in life she worked at St Dunstan’s as an Office Secretary.

Memory contributed by Heather Carson, Aberlour

Additional Information

A wartime memory of the life in the hospital during the second world war.

BBC archive link to a london hospital videoBBC archive film of the London Hospital during WW2. Title : War Comes to London Voluntary Hospitals Description- How various hospitals in London prepared for war.

General memories from Aigan Court in Dufftown

Aigan Court used to be the private home of Mrs Duncan.

Whisky industry- Billings is the liquid which accumulates in the bottom of a recently emptied whisky cask. It evaporates from the walls the wooden walls of the cask once it is empty. It is illegal to sieve the liquid and remove it from the cask. The clearit is 120 proof unlike the cask whisky which is 100-109 proof. When dramming still occured in the distilleries the workers got the clearit whisky unless they worked in the warehouses where they got the aged whisky as no new whisky was distilled there.

A common candy of the past was chocolate sweeties with bits of sugar candy on it like hundreds and thousands. They also remember treacle and sulphur in Springtime.

Memories contributed during a Reminiscence group at Aigan Court, Dufftown

Additional information

Treacle and sulphur (Brimstone and Treacle) was a common remedy. There are many links to it in literature and on the web.
medical site
Charles Dickins refers to it in Nicolas Nickleby when Mrs Squeers dispenses it to the boys in her “care”.

Boots the Chemists in Nottingham by Pamela Shelton

Pamela’s first job was with Boots the Chemists in Nottingham. She started work there at the age of 14 in 1935. In the factory there was a machine at one end and long benches with electric belts. Screw tops had to be added to the bottles, then packed in boxes and sent out. Ointments were made along side face creams and hand creams. They were taken to other warehouses to be distributed. Pamela stayed there for two years.

Her main interest outside work was dressmaking. She learnt how to sew and designed her own clothes. She made wedding dresses and ball gowns for local friends. She went to night school to learn how to drive. She met a friend at night school who was a major in the army. It was through this friend she met Ginger Rogers. She wrote to Ginger for many years until one day Ginger came to do a show and London and Pamela had a chance to meet her. They became friends and Pamela made Ginger two ball gowns and several pairs of trousers.

Memory contributed by Pamela Shelton, Aberlour

Additional Information

Science Museum Boots Objects

Science Museum “Boots the Chemists” Objects

Science Museum has a large range of “Boots the Chemists”  Objects.There are pictures of some of them on their website. (click on the image on the left).

History of Boots the Chemists
Jesse Boot and the rise of Boots the Chemists- article on a document library

Working as a doctor in Glasgow by David Cameron

David’s family lived in Blantyre which is about 10 miles from Glasgow. It was holiday work.
His father was a Senior Officer in the Health Department and his mother was a well-qualified nurse. His mother had trained from 1915-1916 in Newcastle. When she got married she had to give up work. Later on she was called up in 1939 at the outbreak of WW2 to care for wounded soldiers. His mother continued to work after the work ended. His father ran the Senior Ambulance Service and was present at the Clydebank Blitz.

During the war years when David was 9/10 he would travel around picking up salvage, particularly Aluminium. He found it lying in the street. He didn’t get paid. It was just a good deed. David’s first job was holiday work working in Blantyre during a week-long traffic survey. David qualified as a doctor from Glasgow University in 1955. His second job was as a Junior Medical Officer at Stobhill hospital on 1st August 1955. He became a pediatric specialist at Northampton General Hospital. He took a medical diploma in public health (DPH). In 1974 he came to work in Moray as the District Medical Officer. His work included infectious diseases, public health and looked after radiography organising their work.

Bellie Church in Fochabers © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.In retirement David continues to be active in his community. 
He is Clerk to the Parish Church Board dealing with the management of the Bellie Church. This includes the pastoral and the secular work (housekeeping, building, money and cleaners).
He is on the Local Community Council, the Development Association for Fochabers and finally the Village Association which organises the yearly gala.

Additional Information

Clydebank Blitz.

Link to the Education Scotland website with information about the Clydesdale Blitz in 1941On the nights of 13 and 14 March 1941, German bombers attacked the munitions factories and shipyards of Clydeside. Education Scotland have more information on their website (see left).