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.
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).
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.
Scotland’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).