Donald’s first job as a relief porter at the Scotia Hotel in Edinburgh

Donald’s first job was a relief porter at the Scotia Hotel on Great King Street.  He went each day after school from the age of 15 in 1948.  His mother was the manageress at the Hotel. He also worked as a paperboy at around the same age. The bus trips came into Edinburgh around 5- 6p.m. to stay for two days visiting the city. Donald was paid about £1 10/- a week giving his earning to his mother as was customary at the time. He was kept busy taking the bags upstairs to their rooms. Lots of famous people came up to the hotel including Leading ‘Carousel’ singer, Edmund Hawkridge. He also worked as a paper boy.

George-Herriot-high-school by Dave Morris from Oxford, UK. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

George-Herriot-high-school by Dave Morris from Oxford, UK. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

He went to George Herriot School in Edinburgh. It was and is a fee-paying school and he attended with a free place because his Father was in the first World War.

In 1952 he was called up to do his National service. he spent the two years in England based at several camps including Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire and Hednesford in Staffordshire.

Later in life he worked in the whisky industry as a Distillery Manager at a number of distilleries. They included Ben Rinnes, Bracklea Distillery and Burghead Maltings.

The Talisker Distillery  © Copyright Nick W and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Talisker Distillery © Copyright Nick W and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Earlier in his career he was a Trainee Assistant Manager at Talisker Distillery. He stayed in one of the local worker cottages about 1/4 mile away. One night in 1960 he was awoken by one of the night shift along with other staff as the still house was on fire. Someone had forgotten to shut a valve. Then the whisky was heated over coal furnaces and so the spilt whiskey reached the fire below and so the building was able to set alight. The still house had an old-fashioned slate timbered roof with traditionally built walls. They managed to save the rest of the distillery from the fire but the distillery still had to close down for 18 months while the distillery was re-built. Workers were given work in the remaining maltings and the warehouses. No-one was laid off as far as Donald knew. During the renovation Donald was sent to work in other locations on the site and at other distilleries with the same owners. The new stills were heated by the coils inside them. The stone from old walls was thrown in Loch Harport.

Donald Matherson was interviewed at the Work and No Play Event held at Elgin Library

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