Biding in a chaumer while working as a farm labourer by Jimmy Green

Davidston Fields above Bridge of Davidston. The white house on the right is a new one built beside the old Mill of Davidston. In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm, which is in the next square.

Davidston Fields above Bridge of Davidston. The white house on the right is a new one built beside the old Mill of Davidston. In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm, which is in the next square. © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

After the end of the Second World war many of the German POWs who had been interned in Moray POW camps decided to stay in Moray and not return to their homeland. Jimmy was recruited to work on the farms when the German farmworkers went back on family visits back to Germany. He started work in around 1948 when he turned 20. The farmer was called William Stewart and the farm was Bomakelloch Farm, Keith. During the week he lived on the farm in a room above the kitchen which was called a “chaumer“. Four people slept in the room. Two of the farmer’s sons, a german POW and Jimmy. It had a traditional small rectangular skylight with a single sheet of glass. There was separate stair up from the kitchen and the bedroom may have been an old maid’s room. There was also another old “chaumer” above the stable. There was a bath in the house but Jimmy went home to his parents’ house, Davidston House, a small farm 1/2 mile a way and had a bath there. He also took his washing for his mother to wash. Food was provided by the farm. Breakfast was usually porridge made with salt along with bread and butter. If you had brose you made that yourself. It is made in the bowl from oatmeal, hot water, salt and spice. For dinner there could be soup (broth, pea soup or tattie soup). Mince and tatties and on the same plate afterwards, a sweet such as semolina.The work days would vary with the season. In Spring the day would begin around 6 a.m. with breakfast at 6.30 p.m. By then the horse ploughs were being slowly replaced by tractors. The tractors were more efficient and quicker and it also meant that the farms could employ fewer men. The horses on this farm were very old. Jimmy did not work on his parents farm, Davidston House as he had four brothers and so he was not needed. He often went back to his parents house during the week to see them. He took his clothes home to be washed. He stayed on at this farm for the next eighteen years.

Jimmy’s work life continues as a mobile library van driver in Banffshire >>>>>>>>>>

Memory contributed by Jimmy Green in Keith

Additional Information

Keith Cricket Club- Jimmy has been involved with the club as player, umpire, coach and has even cut the grass on the wicket for the last sixty years. Here is a recent newspaper article from the Banffshire Herald. They have kindly given the project permission to publish it here- Jimmy Green’s  60 year involvement with Keith Cricket Club

More information about chaumers.
“The name depended on faur ye bade or fit size o a fairm ye were feed on. A chaumer wis a wee biggin or room, sometimes at the end o a steadin or next tae a wash hoose, or a room up abeen a stable or barn. A chaumer didna hae a fire, an the single lads wad hae been fed in the fairm kitchen bi the kitchie deem……..”  Follow the link above for an extensive description from the Elphinstone Institute at Aberdeen University.

More information on Davidston House, which has listed building status.

An article written by local pensioner, Violet Fraser about her time living at the Balnageith POW camp after the war when it was not longer is used for POWs. Commenmorative plaque at the site. More information about the site of the camp.

Horse Ploughing
Click here to see a Horse ploughing film on Scottish Screen onlineWatch a 1955 film of horse ploughing 

The film shows everyday life and work of a Scottish ploughman, shot at Smeaton Farm, Dalkeith.
It was made in 1955 and lasts 11 minutes.

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