Working as a table maid at Leuchars house by Sheila McGregor

Leuchars House Attibution Anne Burgess This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.Sheila attended Elgin Technical College where she learnt cookery, sewing, knitting and housework. She left at the age of 16 and went to work at Leuchers House situated in a farming area near Elgin. Her employer was Colonel Black who by then was in his 90s and childless. Her room was in the attic. In addition to Sheila there was a housekeeper and a gardener. Each day the housekeeper, Nurse Grant woke her up. Nurse Grant had previously looked after the Colonel’s late wife and stayed on.

Sheila woke the Colonel at 7.30 a.m. setting his breakfast table in the dining room and then moving on to clean his shoes. She was then able to have her own breakfast in the kitchen with the housekeeper. Breakfast always consisted of porridge, toast, home-made butter, jam and marmalade.

The Colonel dressed himself and then went to work every day, even though he was advanced in years, until well into his 80s. He worked for the partnership of Allan, Black and McCaskie in Elgin as a solicitor. While he was out Sheila cleaned the house and helped to prepare lunch. He returned for lunch driving himself home in his Rover car. In the afternoon both she and the Housekeeper were free and sometimes they would cycle to Lochhills, where Nurse Grant owned a cottage. Sheila’s parents lived in Birnie but it was too far to go for just an afternoon. Each Friday and every 2nd Saturday she had a day off. On those days she would cycle from Leuchars House to Birnie to see her parents. She did not take her washing as she was able to do that at Leuchars House.

In the evening Sheila and the House keeper sat in the kitchen and knitted or sewed. The Gardener went home. He did not live in as he had lived a cottage with his family. The cottage was on and belonged to the estate.

On occasion the colonel would entertain neighbours with a dinner party. Regular guests included the Laird of Pitgaveny and Captain Iain and Lady Margaret Tennant from Innes House.

Additional Information

More information about Lieutenant Colonel William Rose Black can be found on Libindx database. Select People search on the left and then click on the blue full information icon on the right (see screenshot below).
Link to the Libindx database which has information about Colonel Black

Leuchars House is a British Listed Building. There is a lot of information about the hosue including a map of its location and photographs of the house. Libindx also has information about Leuchars House under a Place Search including details of a fire which destroyed part of the house in 1948 and the addition of a garage by Colonel Rose Black in 1953 around when Sheila worked there.

An 1870-1 map of the area showing where Leuchars House is. It is in the left third of the map about halfway up.

Plan of Loch spynie and adjacent grounds on the Scotland Places' websiteScotland’s Places website has a wonderful map of the area called a Plan of Loch Spynie and adjacent grounds. It shows the Mill of Leuchars around where the main house is now. The mill run is shown running south from the Loch of Coates and over the Lands of Leuchars. There is also an old channel shown linking the River Lossie to the Loch of Coates which ran across the Leuchars land. The map was drawn up for the Court of Sessions in 1783 as part a dispute between Sir William Gordon of Gordonstoun and the Branders of Kinneddar (Alex Brander) and Pitgaveny Estate (John Brander).


Working in West End Guest House in Aberdeen by Helen Fitch

Helen’s parents owned a guest house in Aberdeen called West End Guest House on St. Swithins Street. Helen went to work for parents outside school hours, when she was 13 in 1960. She was allowed to keep the money she earned. When she was 15 she saw an advert in the Press and Journal newspaper advertising work at Leighton Hall in Montgomeryshire. At that time a Canadian Newspaper magnet owned the house. She went to work there with a friend for the holidays and they earned £5 a week. The following year in 1963 she went to work as a nanny and mother’s help in Dunkeld. It was very hard and involved washing, ironing and cooking. In 1964 she took her Highers. In the summer she worked as a porter at Oban Hotel. In September she started at Edinburgh University to study law. She soon decided it was not for her and left to become an uncertified primary school teacher in Fauldhouse, a very deprived area of Lark hall. She was given a class of 35 five year olds with no prior training.

Her next adventure was getting married and travelling to Northern Malawi with her husband who had been appointed the Regional Forest Officer.

Additional Information
Leighton House is a listed building in Wales. There are a number of images of the estate and other details around it on the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Images of Leighton Hall on RCAHMW.

History of the Leighton Village centred around the Leighton Estate.

Blackhillock farm work near Deskford by Annabel Ure

Annable went to work for the family business of farming at ther father’s farm of Blackhillock. She left school at the age of 14 in 1943 and went to work full-time though she had been helping out for years before this when not at school. Her Father and brothers were still at home as farming was a reserved occupation during WW2. The An example of a Clydesdale Horse. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported grew oats,barley, carrots, turnips, leeks and tatties but not wheat as the soil was too wet. Annabel learnt to drive a tractor before learning to drive a car. The farm used Clydesdale horses for ploughing- Charlie the horse and Pirie the Mare. At lunchtime soups would be made for workmen e.g. broth, tattie and pea.The farm made their own cheese in a cheese press, which was kept outside. It was a form of Crowdie. It took a week to ten days to make the cheese from cows’ milk rennet. It was a hard life working from daylight to dark.

Her sister was nine years older than her. She went on to Buckie High School then on to a Nursing career at St. Martin Hospital, Glasgow as a midwife. Her twin brothers worked in Engineering (Ian) and on the farm then joinery (Alec). They went out to work and came home to the farm at night.

Annabel worked on the farm until her father gave it up. They had to move to an empty house nr. Lhanbryde called Greenside, Orton Road, Rothes. Her Father needed to rest and he took a powder three times a day to help him.

Apprentice Mechanic at Burgess of Keith by Peter MacLeman

Peter’s family background was in farming but he wanted to train as a mechanic. He went to Inverness Technical College at the age of 16 in 1961 to train for a City and Guild course in Mechanics. When completed the qualification he went back to Keith to work for the garage, Burgess of Keith. The work involved dealing with farm machinery, tractors, vans and pickups. Generally he worked Monday to Friday but he could be called out at the weekend. The pay was £7 a week. He really enjoyed the work. next he worked for Barclays in Portsoy working with haulage vehicles and livestock carriers. Later on was a Glenfiddich Distillery as a fireman stoking fires under the stills. The work was very warm as you would imagine and very hard.

The shifts were as follows:–
Day shift     7.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.
Back shift   3.00 p.m.- 11 p.m.
Night shift 11 p.m. – 7.00 a.m.

The days would work as follows:-
7 days Day shift  then 3 days off
7 day Back shift then 3 days off
7 day Night shift and then 3 days off

The weekend had 12 hour shifts during the holidays. When the mechanic was suddenly taken ill Peter stood in for him and ended up staying in the new position for the next 14 years (the original mechanic retired). Later Peter went to work on the transport vehicles including HGVs. He took his licence to drive them.

While working at the distilleries in those days there were daily dramming sessions, usually three – morning, lunchtime and afternoon when the employees were served with a dram of clearic whisky. Clearic is the pure spirit whisky straight out of the still before being sent to storage barrels to mature.

Memory contributed by Peter MacLeman

Easter Bogs farmworker by Mary McIntosh

Easter Bogs © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Easter Bogs © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mary worked on Easter Bogs farm near Cairnfield, Banffshire. She started work at the age of 13 in 1939. She was put there by her family as a place to work. She had to light the fire and make porridge. There were four double beds to change with flannelette sheets.

She left Easter Bogs farm in 1941 at the age of 15 and moved to work at Tanachie Farm nr. Portgordon. She helped the daughters. She does not remember any Prisoners of War working on the farm. Mary’s next job during the latter part of the war, was working for local firm, Baxters. The older Mr Baxter chose a tartan for the tins. Sometimes the female workers put messages in the jam hoping to reach the troops by putting their name and address on the jam pot cover. They placed the jam jar on a wooden block with a groove on it to stop the glass bottle moving. Items such as sliced beetroot were filled with the “bonny” bits around the edge of the jar and then the rest of the jar was filled up. They were usually not allowed to sing while they worked. Mary remembers being told “That is the second time I told you to stop singing”. Gordon Baxter, a member of the army at the time, would sometimes come to the factory floor to sit next to them. “He was a lovely sweetheart”.  Two boys worked in a tin shed skinning rabbits for the stews and soups.


Woolworths in Elgin © Copyright Iain Macaulay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mary also worked in Forestry for the Timber Corps. Italian POWs wore a patch on their back to identify them. She was also an Assistant Window dresser at Woolworths. It was very busy. On the weekend she worked at a Tea Bar. Maryhill House was a barracks and Hough House (=Mansion House) was for the RAF.

Towards the end of the war Mary was posted to Camberley where Princess Elizabeth was also posted. She learnt to drive there. Mary remembers the lovely smile she received once from the Princess when Mary went inside to collect her wages.

Memory contributed by Mary McIntosh from Elgin

Additional information

Princess Elizabeth was posted to Camberley during WW2 where she learnt a variety of skills including vehicle repair.  The person in charge of her training was Maud Maclennan. She wrote about her experience of doing this in 1952.


Alistair Riach’s first job for Scott the Grocers in Bishopmill, Elgin

Alistair started working for Scott the Grocers at the age of 13 in 1948. His Mother said “You have to go out and make some money”. Scott the Bakers was situated next to the Chemist shop (where the Co-op shop is now). Bishopmill did not have a lot of shops.He delivered baked goods and collected orders all over Bishopmill using his message bike. A sack of potatoes would just fit into a bike carrier. During the winter it was very hard work. He handed over his earnings to his mother for his keep. He worked from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. and then 4 p.m. until 6 p.m going to work in between.

In his free time he went to dances at the Lido and saw films at the Elgin playhouse. The children also went swimming in the River Lossie. They only wore shoes for school and took them off once they got out of school to keep them “nice”. When they wore the shoes the socks would be darned with a tennis ball.

He remembers his Granny putting spare porridge in  a drawer. Pieces could be cut off as oatcakes. Sometimes she would cut a slide off and fry it. One day she gave Alistair a Mars bar and said “That’s your tea, there is a meal in a Mars.” 

Additional Information
The Porridge drawer tradition is well established in the north-east of Scotland.

Memory contributed by Alistair Riach from Elgin.