Milk boy for Bishopmill Dairy by Bill Forsyth

Bill started work in 1937 at the age of 9/10. His Father had heard about the job in his job at the Tile Works. Joseph Farquhar owned Bishopmill Farm, which was the left hand side of the road on the way out of Bishopmill towards Lossiemouth. It was just past the old Moray Poor House site. He worked for the farm’s dairy before school every day of the week. He arrived about 7 a.m. and collected tin cans, which held about 1 pint of pasturised full cream milk. He could hook 5 cans on either side of his bike. He then set off to deliver milk to the local customers. The job carried on through the holidays as well. When the war started Joseph Farquhar’s son, also called Bill was called up. Bill was asked to help with the milk round. Joseph had two milk floats to deliver the milk to his Elgin customers.

Easterton farm Roseisle © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Easterton Farm Roseisle Copyright Anne Burgess Creative Commons Licence

When Bill reached 13 he left school to work for the dairy full-time. He learnt how to control a horse and cart so he could then take one of the carts on local milk deliveries. Two large milk churns were placed in the back of his cart along with a one pint tin jug to dispense the milk from the large cans into whatever the customer had at hand for their milk delivery.The route he took was from Bishopmill along Lesmurdie Road, Kingmills, over the old Bridge to the Cathedral, up King Street, cut across Institution Road, round the Station Hotel and then back to the Dairy. The caretaker at the Cathedral always had two sandwiches ready made with fresh butter and rhubarb jam. One for Bill and one for the horse. No-one had fridges in those days so Bill went on his round every day. When he returned to the dairy he handed back the tin cans for cleaning and put the horse to pasture in the fields around the dairy. Then the cart needed to be tidied up. Next Bill went off to Easterton Farm on Covesea Road to collect the cans of milk for the following day. The milk was processed and pasturised at the dairy ready for the next day’s delivery. Each week Bill handed over his wage to his Mother and received spending money back.

Cattle were also kept on the farm. The dung heap was situated behind the Old Bishopmill School and the smell could be quite strong on some days.

Bill remembered the Old School at Bishopmill had traditional school desks with slates, ink pots and blackboards.

 Memory contributed by Bill Forsyth at the Messages and Memories Event at Elgin Library June 2014

Additional Information

Bishopmill History

nls map referencesLocal Maps of the area   Either choose Find by place which allows the user to select specific maps individually e.g. This 1938 (published 1946) map of Elgin shows all the detail of Bishopmill including old and new school, the old town centre roads before the bypass, the gas works etc…

There are various books which describe Bishopmill and its development including the schools. The History of the Local Area is written about in detail in the New Statistical Account of Scotland. Search by putting Bishopmill in the left hand search box or go to page 98 onwards in the Elgin section of the book.
Bishopmill Google booksMoray Poor House, Bishopmill  The Map of the Moray Poor House on this web page also shows the location of the local primary school on Balmoral Terrace and the farm fields around Bishopmill around 1905. To look at other old maps of the area go to the Useful Links/Scottish Maps page on this website and follow the NLS link.

List of Moray Combination Poorhouse residents in 1881


Rabbit Catcher’s daughter by Hettie Milne neé Coutts

Hettie’s memories of life at Burghead School during WW2 >>>>>

Burghead 48 King Street Hettie Milne

48 King Street Burghead

Hettie was born in Burghead, Moray at 48 King Street in 1932 and she is therefore proud to be known as a “brocher”. Her mother came from Glenlivet and her Father, James “Jimmy” from Aberdeenshire. His family lived on a small holding in Aberdeenshire. He was the eldest son born in 1907 and he had to leave school at the age of 14 to work on the family farm. There were no tractors and part of Jimmy’s job was to drove cattle. Around 1920 they decided to move to Cullerne Farm, a new bigger farm located between Kinloss and Findhorn. So it was that one day his mother, younger brothers, sisters, 2 cows, a few sheep, chickens, Granny Jeannie Coutts on the cart and all their worldly goods set off. They were led by Jimmy as they started on their journey via Rhynie over the Cabrach, down Rothes Glen and onto Findhorn.

Burghead 69a Dunbar Street Hettie Milne

69 Dunbar Street

By the time that Hettie was born in 1932 her father had left Cullerne farm (at the age of 21) and moved to the nearby fishing settlement of Burghead.  One of her earliest memories is of a small shop in Findhorn. They lived at the top of town at 69a Dunbar Street. Prior to this they lived in 48 King Street. Her first job was “tattie” picking. During September/October the schools closed for what was known as the Tattie holidays (they still do). This break coincided with the readiness of the potato harvest. Hettie along with other local children, (usually aged 12 and over)  waited by the school at Burghead for a tractor and bogie to come and pick them up to start work at 7.30 a.m. each day. They started work at 8 a.m.  with short breaks until 5 at night. The tatties were collected in galvanized buckets and then poured into a wire basket. A young lad held the reins of the horse as older men tipped the basket contents into the cart. Each of the children had brought their own “piece” (snack) or lunch with them. This could be two slices of bread with corned beef or dry sandwiches with margarine and jam.   Occasionally they hunted the hedgerows for brambles sometimes taking them home at the end of the day. Some farms had apple orchards they could pick apples from.  They took or were given cold drinks. Flasks were too expensive and too easily broken.The money made from tattie picking was used to buy them a new winter coat and shoes. Any left over could be used for a bar of chocolate.

When Hettie left school she went to work for the Forestry Commission at Newton Nurseries from 1946-1951 from the age of 14 to 19 years. Her job involved replanting forests in Culbin Sands, Clashindarroch and Roseisle. She was also involved in reseeding young trees. At Heldon Hill Hettie cleared the lower branches from the trees so they could be used for telegraph poles.

Wester Alves farm  © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Wester Alves farm © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In 1951 she went to work for Miss Grant, a lady farmer at Wester Alves farm. Cattlemen brought the milk into the dairy and left it to stand. The butter and cream comes to the top. It is then put into a milk churn and the handles are turned until a flopping sound is created when the butter has formed. The butter is weighed out into the right size. Miss Grant took the butter into town (Elgin) to give to her friends. Eventually Miss Grant was taken ill. Her brother-in-law Sir Alexander Murray offered her job in London. as did his daughter, Mrs Robinson in Edinburgh. Hettie decided to say “No” to both and to go back to her Forestry Commission work.

Rabbits_on_ a_fence_source: Hettie Milne

Typical rabbit catch for Jimmy Coutts, Rabbit Catcher, Burghead. Photo Source: Hettie Milne neé Coutts

Rabbit catching
Hettie’s father, Jimmy Milne was a Rabbit catcher. This was a reserved occupation during WW2 as due to shortages of meat and therefore rationing rabbit had become one of the main replacements for the UK population. The shortages were due to the torpedoing of merchant shipping by U-boats. This led to a national shortage of a variety of foodstuffs including corn, wheat, sugar and meat. Jimmy MilneWild rabbits were prolific during this period and farmers were more than happy for Hettie’s Father to catch rabbits on their land. He paid the farmers for using their land. Country folk have always eaten rabbit, hare, pheasant and duck. Each evening he set his traps along the runs, which splayed out naturally from the rabbits’ warrens. The rabbits left a groove where their runs were. Sometimes Hettie would help her Father set the traps using a paraffin lamp to light their way. Apart from using snares he also held a 2.2 gun licence. Jimmy also kept ferrets to flush out the rabbits when the ground was too hard to set snares. He could tell when the rabbits were in their warrens as there was fresh sand outside their holes. Hettie would help her father set the traps by twising the wire and going out to collect the rabbits. He came home with a rattling car and a basket of traps to repair. Her Mother, Christina also helped by winding up a snare wire with a “thraw” hook. James put his rabbits into crates and then sent his rabbits via train down to butchers’ shops in England.

Hettie’s Mother, Christina worked at Gordonstoun when her children were older. It was hard work due to the nature of the stone floors. She also cleaned for a teacher’s wife who had a house on the bus route.

The following morning at about half past four he set off to collect the rabbits from his snares before the local wildlife had a chance to help themselves first.

In the summertime the family went to Glenlivet where her Mother was from. Christina and James had married at Achbreck Church, Glenlivet on 24 December 1931. To get there they went on the bus to Elgin, then train to Dufftown, bus to Tomintoul and then got off at Tomnavoulin. There were no street signs or road signs to take them there. You just had to know the way. The signage had been removed for the duration of WW2 in case of german invasion. Hettie’s Father continued to catch rabbits throughout their Glenlivet trips, taking his crates of rabbits to Dufftown and Glenlivet stations for transport south. In addition to sending his catch south he also supplied local butchers as well. There were poachers operating in the area as well though they had to try to sell their catch door to door.

Memory contributed by Hettie Milne from Elgin

Additional information

Childhood memories of Burghead by Hettie Milne nee Coutts by Hettie Milne

Hettie’s brother was Country singer Frankie Coutts. He had formed a duo with Willie Sutherland in the 1960s and 70s. He was well-known in Moray.

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.

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.


Farm work and staying in a chaumer at Greenfold Farm by Norman Adie

Polytunnels at Barra  © Copyright Andrew Wood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Polytunnels at Barra © Copyright Andrew Wood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Norman left school at the age of 14 and went to work as a farm servant at Greenfold Farm near Oldmeldrum. He was given a bed in the chaumer, a small building by itself which he shared it with his older brother. Each weekend he cycled 7 miles home with his br other  to South Mains of Barra, Oldmeldrum where his Father worked. There had been no work there when Norman left school so he had followed his brother. He earned 10 /- a week which he handed over to his mother and got pocket money back.

The day started with breakfast in the farm-house. There was brose made with hot water and salt. This you made yourself. Porridge was for tea and then at dinnertime was soup(e.g. tattie or broth), crowdie cheese (made on the farm) and breed (home-made oatcakes). Norman enjoyed the work. Cattle were fattened up and used to provide milk for the dairy.

He used his earning to buy clothes and at visits to the local dance hall.

Memory contributed by Norman Adie from Elgin

Working in the family business by Gladys Murphy neé Cruickshank

Gladys helped her parents with the family business from a young age. She left school in Keith at 13 1/2 going to work there full-time in 1944. She chose to work there because it was the family business. The business (Cruickshanks) was based next to the family home of South View, Keith situated on the edge of Keith. Cruickshanks had a big yard and farming land behind the house along with lotted land elsewhere around Keith.

Air Raid Shelter Keith Senior Primary School demolished 2010 Permission given © David McWilliams Keith Primary School was built by Alex Cruickshank (Gladys’ Father) in the late 1930s. As Gladys was born in 1930 she attended school during the Second World War. When the town air raid siren went off she had to go into one of the air raid shelters. She also took her gas mask to school every day. Both the Junior Primary (Green) School and the Senior Primary (built by her Father in the late 1930s) had shelters. The Senior Primary School building included two air raid shelters. One for boys and one for girls. Gladys remembers using a pen with a sharp nibPen with ink nib . Each desk had an inkwell. the ink was made up by the teacher from a powder. She used a slate with a bit of chalk to write on, cleaning it with a cloth from her bag. Her parents house was on the other side of the wall to the school. Her parents put her over the wall to send her to school and did the same in the holidays as a safe place to play with her friends. A large brass handbell rung at playtimes. Gladys remembers Miss Bessie Simpson and Miss Lobban.

Gladys helped in the kitchen and worked outside helping the 40 or so employees of the firm. In the summer, like many young people she picked tatties on her family’s land.

Her brother became an auctioneer at Aberdeen and Northern Mart and her sister became a teacher. Gladys ran Tarnash House for 37 years as a bed and breakfast establishment. Although closed now she still maintains contact with some of the people who stayed with her as friends.

Memory contributed by Gladys Murphy neé Cruickshank at the Keith County Show 2013

Additional Information

Lotted lands– article about lotted lands in the North-East of Scotland “Between 1720 and the 1850s some 490 planned villages, characterized by a regular layout of streets, building plots and adjacent fields (or Lotted Lands) were founded on estates throughout Scotland including 100 or so in north-east Scotland. Lotted lands were fields, typically subdivided into one- or two-acre lots,which were leased to villagers to grow crops such as oats and turnips and for grazing cattle and horses.”

Keith Primary School Memory Blog

Keith Primary School was built by Alex Cruickshank (Gladys’ Father) in the late 1930s. The building included two air raid shelters. One for boys and one for girls. Duncan McKelvie remembers the air raid shelters at the school.
Link to the cutting the turf ceremony for by his great grandson, Dean with cousins Alex and Sarah. The new Primary school opened in 2012. To read about the demolition of the old Senior Primary (Junior still exists) and the building of the new school and memories of the old school go to Keith Memory Blog.

Working on the family farm by William Stewart Stronach

Maisley Farm Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Geolocation

Maisley Farm

William started working for the family business, Maisley farm nr. Keith at the age of 14  when he left school in 1956. He had been helping since he was a young boy, picking tatties and loading the carts. His grandfather had moved to the farm in 1926. When he died his Mother and Father moved to the farm. The farm had a “chaumer” up a backstair from the kitchen. Stewart slept there on a “caff” bed. His bed had a wooden frame around the edge and inside was placed a canvas-covered mattress filled with the softer outer husks of the oat. When freshly filled it stood at least a foot above the bed frame slowly being compress over time as it was slept on. Sometimes a “caff” bed would be taken out to the stable so that his father could sleep on it if one of his horses was about to give birth to its foal. The Farm’s Clydesdale Horses were  more valuable than the cows and also more becoming stressed in labour.

His Mother would cook soups for dinnertime at midday e.g. broth or tattie served with oatcakes (called “breed” in his family). As the farm did not grow wheat they bought in bread from a Baker’s Van which travelled the area often bartering bread for eggs.

For supper they ate breed, cheese, bread, syrup, boiled beef and chicken. Another meal was “skirlie” served with home-made oatcakes. This is made with oatmeal and onions (see recipe below). The farm had hens, sheep (lambs were sold), cows for milk/crowdie cheese and calves (which were sold on for fattening). Sometimes they ate pheasant which his father would shoot when they came down for the winter. There was no fridge and he remembers the hooks in the ceiling for hanging meat, though his family did not do this.

Crooks Mill source geolocation by Anne Burgess Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Crooks Mill near Keith

Crooksmill Pond The Mill pond and Crooksmill Burn north of Keith source: Geolocation on Share alike licence by Andrew Wood

Crooksmill Mill pond and Crooksmill Burn north of Keith

Farm work

In winter work including pulling turnips putting them into carts (“cairting”). In spring the crops were put into the ground. Stewart remembers the horses ploughing the fields when he was a young boy (in the 1940s) but they were soon replaced by the tractors. The farm grew thinning turnips sketch based on Stewart's descriptionoats and barley. The oats were sent to the nearby Crooks Mill,, just outside Keith. The barley was sent to the grain merchants. Once the turnips were “breering” i.e. their shoots were above the ground then Stewart went along with his hoe and pushed them over. This leaves a single shoot and about a 7″ gap between that turnip shoot and the next turnip shoot.

Like many farms in the area Maisley Farm worked on a seven year crop rotation based around seven fields.

Years 1-3 grass
Year 4-5 oats and barley
Year 6 turnips
Year 7 oats undersown with grass. The oats were harvested above the grass layer leaving the grass and oat stubble. Then the rotation started again the following year.
Events were marked locally by when a field had a particular crop in it. No sprays were used and very little fertiliser. Manure was the main feeder for the soil.

Memory contributed by Stewart Stronach at the Keith County Show 2013 (President of the Show)

Additional Information

Other current interests- The Scottish Simmental Club and President of the Keith County Show 2013

There is a set of images of Crooks Mill, on the Scotlands Places website.

Oat grains source wikicommons 606px-Haverkorrels_Avena_sativa
Oat grain with outer husks

caff” beds– a definition of caff and links to some not always complimentary descriptions of sleeping on a  caff bed. The outer casings of the oat is also part of the group name chaff which also refers to rice, barley and wheat casings. Other definitions of caff-bed

A recipe for “Breed”, a north-east word for oatcakes

“Skirlie”- Stewart’s method of cooking involves putting a bit of fat in a pan, adding chopped onions and then browning them. Next add a handful of coarse oatmeal and stir. The oatmeal cooks in its own steam. You can add a few drops of water to it if the skirlie starts to stick to the pan.

Life on Bomakelloch farm from 1930s to 1950s by Jean Mark

DavidstonFields 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.

In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm

Jean grew up on Bomakelloch farm in Drummuir . Her parents Jane “Jeannie” and William Stewart, were tenants on the farm. her father was 50 when Jean was born in 1930. her mother was 40. She was the seventh in the family to arrive. Before her were four brothers, 2 older sisters and then after Jean a younger sister. There were two front bedrooms and one back bedroom, which Jean had to herself. In addition to this there was a back bedroom above the kitchen. This Porridge This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.was accessed through a back stair through the back door.  The men who worked on the farm stayed in this room. It was called a “chaumer”.  Her mother cooked for everyone on the farm. There was brose (oatmeal with added salt, pepper and boiling water). Porridge was made in a big pot with oatmeal and salt. Cream was sometimes added to the porridge. Dinner was 12 noon and her mother made soup (tattie, pea and broth). She started to help on the farm as soon as she could walk by hoeing turnips and picking tatties. She enjoyed helping with the lambing and sometimes the calving too.

Jean Marks Keith

Jean Marks from Keith

War years
Her eldest brothers were called up for the Second world war. William was in the RAF and Tommy was sent to South Africa with the Parachute Regiment. They could have stayed on the farm as it was a protected occupation but they wanted to be the same as their “mates”. The farm wasn’t really affected by rationing as they had access to milk to make cheese and eggs from hens (which they ate sometimes too!). The land was unsuitable to grow wheat so they bought that in.

Prisoners of War
The Sandyhillock & Knockando POW camp was near to her parents’ farm at Elchies. Each day a lorry would bring a group of men from the camp to work at the farm. The 4 or 5 mostly young single men enjoyed working at the farm. They brought pieces of bread with them along with ground coffee and Jean’s mother made them dinner with everyone else. Initially she had to be shown by one of the Italian POWs called Mario how to make coffee. Later on in the war Germans POWs also arrived at the camp. Towards the end of the war or just after her mother decided one day to take two of the POWs to the local cinema as a treat. As this sort of activity was not allowed for POWs she had to dress the two germans up in long black overcoats to hide the PW lettering on their trousers below their knees along with the PW written across the backs of their black tops. After the war Eric Penno, one of the German POWs stayed behind. Eventually he married Margaret, one of Jean’s sisters. He did return to Germany to see him family after war but returned to continue working at Bomakelloch. Another German POW called Hans Dobler wanted to stay on after the end of the war. Jean’s mother told him they were happy to have him but that he should first go back to see his family Germany. She was conscious of how she would feel if her son had been away as a POW during the war and he then chose not to come back to see his family afterwards. Hans did return to Germany to see his family but he chose to stay back in Germany and keep in touch by letter as he does to this day. Eric did go back to see his family but returned eventually marrying Margaret in 1951 at Botriphine Church.

Making Crowdie
Crowdie cheese is made by mixing milk with salt and rennet. After the cheese separates it is added to a cheese press. There was top to the cheese press which was pressed down to squeeze out the whey. After it was pressed it was called Crowdie. The cheese was about the size of a dinner plate and about 28 inches high. It was kept in the milk house situated at the back of the house. There were thick stone slate shelves. The cheese can be allowed to dry out further or be eaten straightaway. The soft crumbly textured cheese was lovely with oatcakes. Oatcakes were made at home. The milk was brought into the milking house still warm from the cows. It was poured into large wide shallow enamel bowls. Over the next day the cream rose to the top and it was skimmed off for butter. Butter was made in a glass jar with a screw top and a handle. The paddle inside Butter Pats Bedford Museum Description-Butter Pats Bedford Museum.JPG English: Butter pats, cream measures and butter stamps on display at Bedford Museum. Wikicommons licenceturned the cream to separate the butter out. It took longer if the cream was cool. The butter was left unsalted and kept stored as butter pats. Wooden butter pats shaped the butter with ridges. The ridges stopped the butter sticking to the butter pats. None of the butter was sold as it was used in the farm kitchen.  

The women in the farmhouse did all the baking. When she was young there was no oven in the kitchen. Instead there a huge open fire and a Blaeberry This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.“girdle” (griddle) to make scones, oatcakes and bannocks. During the summer months wild raspberries and blaeberries were collected to make jam. The farm also had blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes.  When sugar was on ration during and just after the second world war the family made a decision to stop having sugar in their drinks so there was sufficient sugar for jam. A 1lb jam jar was filled with sugar for one of the workman who would not give up sugar in his drinks. He used it to the last spoonful. Jean remembers the resentment as this particular person would then happily eat the jam that everyone else have sacrificed their sugar ration for.

Jean had two older sisters (who later married farmers) and one younger sister. Jean hated sewing and her younger sister enjoyed it. She had learnt dressmaking. Jean remembers at the age of 15 or 16 her sister taking over some particularly annoying sewing task. Jean warned her husband before she married him that she hated sewing and she would not be making him clothes. (At the interview she shared the thought that “SHE STILL HATES SEWING”). She bought her wedding dress while her younger sister made her own. She didn’t mind knitting.

Lambing Time
Lambing usually took place during the Easter Holidays when the lambs could benefit from the fresh grass. Each ewe usually had two lambs though occasionally there were triplet and single births. The ewe only has two teats to feed the lamb milk so the optimum birth was two. If there were more than two then the lambs were allowed to feed on the first milk (colostrum), which is very important as it is rich in nutrients and anti-bodies safeguarding against infection. One of the lambs is taken away and given to a ewe that has lost its lamb for some reason. If presented early after an unsuccessful birth a ewe will take on another lamb as its own. This common practice on the farm. If a ewe is struggling to feed its lamb than the lamb can be given to a more experienced ewe with plenty of milk. Jean has seen a ewe look after three of her own lambs if she has lots of milk.

The cows usually had one calf, sometimes two. The vet would need to be called to help out if there was a problem.

Little Pitlurg  - Geograph © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Little Pitlurg © Copyright Anne Burgess Creative Commons Licence

After her marriage to a local farmer in 1957 Jean and her husband built up a farming business initially at Little Pitlurg. In 1963 they acquired the tenancy of the farm at the Mains of Pitlurg from the Laird Gordon-Duff of Drummuir. In the 1970s Jean and her husband heard that the Estate was considering allowing the sale of some farm houses. They arranged for the factor to visit their farms and decide on a valuation. The Laird agreed to sell both properties and Jean and her husband became land owners for the first time. Her son runs Little Pitlurg now.

Memory contributed by Jean Mark from Keith

Additional Information

Jean’s dance troup activities

Jimmy Green worked for Jean’s parents and latterly her brother, William. He has shared his memory of working at Bomakelloch with this project earlier this year.

Butter Churns
A link to a web site devoted to antique dairy equipment including butter churnsHere is a website devoted to antique dairy equipment including butter churns.
There are many examples of butter churns on the internet.
You tube video of an antique butter churn in use making butter.

Wikipedia page about how to churn butter. There are many website which show us how to make butter.

Crowdie- more information about the cheese Crowdie

Prisoners of War
Imperial War museum- archive recordings- There are archive recordings of Eric Penno and his wife Margaret. Eric was captured in North Africa and brought to POW camp near Keith during world war 2. The Libindx database has a marriage record of 4th May 1951, Botriphine Church. The Banffshire Herald has an article about the marriage.

There are several website with recipes for girdles and photographs of them in use.

Working as a milk girl by Jessie Fountain

Jessie Fountain on the left of the pictureWhen Jessie left school at the age of 15 in 1939 she was willing to take any job she could get. She had done well as school at Forres Academy with an A in French and Latin.  She worked for a shop in Forres delivering milk on her bike. She joined the Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS). In 1942 she married a member of the RAF. They were married for fifty years. In 1944 she was expecting her daughter while her husband was stationed away in Iceland. When the Second World War started her husband had been living in Persia (Iran) working as an oil engineer for the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). He joined up with his brother and came to Bedford. They returned to Iran so that her husband could return to his previous work for AIOC. In 1948 they got an old house on one floor which had beds outside under nets. It took a while to get used to sleeping outside but it was more comfortable in the heat. Each night the servants took the beds outside for them. Later on they moved to a lovely new bungalow.   

When trouble came to Iran in 1951 Jessie and her family were part of an emergency evacuation. It was very sudden and very painful. She remembers the children crying as they their flight home.

Memory contributed by Jessie Fountain from Forres

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company agreement with the Iranian Government 1949

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company agreement with the Iranian Government 1949

Additional Information
Information about the Anglo-Persian (became Iranian in 1935) Oil Company and the National Iranian Oil Company. AIOC became British Petroleum in 1954.

The History of British Petroleum (BP) including its origins with AIOC.

Working as a farm servant at New Pitsligo by David “Mac” Morrison

David was named after his father, who was known as “Big Mac”. He was known as “Wee Mac”. He missed a year in school and went through a year late and as a result he came out a year later. Just escaped being called up. His Father was a doctor and had a busy GP practice at New Pitsligo (about 12 miles inland from Fraserburgh). It was very competitive before the NHS as each doctor charged the patients directly for their services. It was not unknown for doctors to pinch each others’ patients. As a result doctors rarely took a holiday or even an afternoon off just in case something came up. Once someone had been treated by a new doctor they might continue to go to them taking their family with them. His father was on duty 24-7. Mac remembers when he was off when he was ill with a double hernia and he recuperated in Nairn. If a practice was large enough it could afford an assistant and therefore an ability for the doctor to take some time off. Mac was very keen to go into medicine but his father was not due to a fear of the unknown. Mac was also keen on farming so he went for a job as a farm servant. farm servants worked on farms all over the country. He learnt how to use a plough with a couple of horses before leaving to attend agricultural college in Aberdeen. He completed a certificate course and then did a National Diploma in Agriculture. Then the job hunting started. His first job after college was as a arable manager on a mixed farm in Oyne. It was a large unit. He met a lady who got a job in East Anglia so Mac applied for a job in Norfolk. He was the manager of an arable unit with 1300 acres under plough, a dairy unit, sheep unit and beef unit. The farm produced barley, wheat, oats, sugar beet and root vegetables. There was a rotation of sprouts, cabbage and root vegetables.

The farm supplied stalls at Covent Garden which were open every day. They were sent new supplies every 2-3 days leaving very late at night. The stall holder was called Fred. A selection of the farm crop was sold this way. Wheat and barley was sold through an agricultural merchant. Beef and Sheep were sold through the local markets in Norfolk. There no farm shops at this time. Mac thought it was the best job he ever had. They had their own mechanic who maintained the rolling stock which included six tractors and two combines. The staff included ten farm labourers, a cow man, a sheep man and a beef man. The land was spread over two farms. One farm could be sown a fortnight earlier as they had different soils. One farm had light loam soil (at Walsingham) and the other was a clay soil. It was very labour intensive work at that time. While he was at this farm he got married and had a son.

Continue reading about Mac’s working life here including his family’s part in the start of Bernard Matthews business >>>>>>

Memory contributed by David “Mac” Morrison from Aberlour

Additional information

memory website- New Pitsligo over the yearsMemory website about New Pitsligo over the years.

The Electoral register for 1931 in New Pitsligo lists Mac as his full name David Robert Morrison and living at Denburn House. Dr Cameron moved to New Pitsligo in 1934. He retired 32 years later and is listed as living at Denburn House.