Iona Kielhorn’s first job as a P.E. Teacher in Reading

James Ramsey MacDonald in his PM's office

Iona’s Grandfather, James Ramsey MacDonald in his PM’s office

Iona chose to become a P.E. teacher as she was good at sport. Iona enjoyed her teacher training course at Dartford P.E. College. It was a three-year course. The course included Tennis, Athletics, Hockey, Netball, Rounders and Swimming. There were also courses in Physiology, Physiotherapy and Anatomy. The course counted 1 1/2 years towards a medical degree at London medical School.

Iona with one of her Great grandmother Annie Ramsay's dresses.
Iona with one of her Great grandmother Annie Ramsay’s dresses.

After Iona began working as a P.E.teacher she still participated in sporting activities herself. She was a member of the Anglo-Scots Club, which was based in London. The club was developed for Scots who lived in England. Iona competed at an Anglo-Scots Event where she became Scottish Discus Champion. Her next school post was at a mixed school, Cedar Grammar School in Leighton Buzzard. She met her husband when he was an exchange student in the UK travelling from North Germany. He was attending Wurzberg University. They married and Iona moved to Germany, where she settled for the next forty years. They had two sons.

Pathe news Joan MacDonald wedding

Pathe news reel footage of Joan MacDonald and Alistair MacKinnon’s wedding in 1932

Both of Iona’s parents were doctors. Her Father, Alistair MacKinnon was born in South Africa. Her mother was Dr. Joan MacDonald. Her grandmother was Margaret Gladstone MacDonald and her grandfather was James Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister.

James Ramsay MacDonald was born in Lossiemouth, Moray. He had wanted to a teacher of Science.

Ramsay MacDonald on a Gordonstoun School boat

Ramsay MacDonald on a Gordonstoun School boat in the mid 1930s

He wrote poetry when he was as young as sixteen. Having held the post of Student Teacher at Drainie Primary School for a number of years he moved to Bristol and worked on his Science degree.  James helped his friend Kurt Hahn, former Headmaster of Salem School in Germany, to leave imprisonment in 1932. The letter James wrote is still on display at the school he founded, Gordonstoun in Moray. He also founded the Outward Bound Association, United World Colleges and Duke of Ediinburgh Award Scheme.

Memory contributed by Iona Keilhorn from Lossiemouth

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Additional information

Ramsey MacDonald Heritage trail brochureRamsay MacDonald Heritage Trail
There is a colourful brochure which accompanies an informative walk through the streets of Lossiemouth, his home town and beyond.

Picture library about Ramsey MacDonald

Picture library about Ramsey MacDonald. There are number of pages on this website which relate to the story of Ramsey MacDonald and his links to Lossiemouth.

Moray Connections- James Ramsay MacDonald

Ramsey MacDonald’s Family plot is in Spynie Churchyard

Here is some information which Iona wrote about her Grandfather and one of her Aunts.
Picture set 1
Mountain named after his daughter
Vancouver’s Tribute to Burns in which Ramsay MacDonald gave the Immortal Memory.

Spartacus International Ramsey MacDonald bookAn online article about Ramsey MacDonald including numerous orignal letters and links to the original sources.

Historic Visit to the US in 1929
As Prime Minister he made a historic visit to the United States in 1929. He was the first British Prime Minister to address the U.S. House of Representatives on October 7th 1929. He received a souvenir medal to commemorate the Historic visit.

The Straits Times, 15 October 1929, Page 12- US newspaper cutting

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Pathé News

Pathé News recently uploaded many of their films onto the internet. They include several showing Ramsay MacDonald and often his daughter Joan.

“Newsreel archive British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection  85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world.”

Ramsey MacDonald as prime minister and politician. Working in his study as PM.

Pathe news Ramsay MacDonald at work as PM

Pathe news Ramsay MacDonald at work as PM

Pathe news reel Chequers 1924

Pathe news reel showing Joan and her Father, James at Chequers 1924

Pathe news reel Ramsay Macdonald plane ride

Pathe news reel showing Ramsay Macdonald alighting from a plane ride


June Combe’s teaching job in Aberlour

Aberlour School Reunion September 15th 2012June’s first job was as a teacher in Aberlour in 1952. She started at the age of 20. She was interested in the job in College. She started at 9.00am and her break was at 10.45am and lunch was at12.30pm. She did not go home for lunch . The day ended at 4.00pm. She loved her job.


This Memory was submitted using the online form by Ben, Courtneyand Laura from Craigellachie School, Morayshire. June Combe was interviewed at Craigellachie Village Hall

Additional Information
Some background historical information about Aberlour Village

Peter Cromer’s teaching job in Montrose

Chivers Marmalade advert 1952 from History world website

Chivers Marmalade advert 1952 from History World website

Peter attended University In Aberdeen and then a year at teacher training college. He completed his National Service in Scotland and started his teaching career at South Esk Primary school in Montrose. It was 1953 and he was 23. He was an assistant primary school teacher. His classes normally had about 30 children. Each year a group of travellers came into the area with a circus. By law their children had to accumulate 200 attendances per academic year (a non-traveller child had 400 (am=1 pm= 2). They carried a log with them which the school signed. When the circus arrived the class grew to 56 and the school had to adjust to the increased numbers as best they could. Once the children had acquired to 20 attendances required they stopped coming until the next academic year. South Esk School was on the side of the river where the Chivers Jam factory was. You could tell what was being cooked each day i.e. a jam day or a marmalade day.

In the school the children’s desk were set into rows with an inkwell in each. Parents usually only came into the school to complain otherwise they left the school to get on with the job of educating their children. The belt was used as a form of punishment for misbehaviour. Peter remembered the Master of Method at Training College stating with respect to the use of the belt that it should be used ” seldom but memorably”. The

Leather strap from the Keith Memory Blog

An example of a Leather strap from the Keith Memory Blog

janitor’s office was next to the front door and if the Headteacher had administered the belt on a child it usually wasn’t long before a parent arrived at the school to find out the details of why their child had been selected for this penalty. The janitor’s job was then to make sure they didn’t get in without an appointment. This was because not all the parents were in a good mood when they arrived at the school.

Next he moved to Sunnyside Primary School in Aberdeen where he taught for 10 years. He completed a Masters of Education degree at the University of Aberdeen and went on to work as an Educational Psychologist.

Memory contributed by Peter Cromer, Fochabers

Additional information
Information about the history of teacher training in Aberdeen

Grace'a guide Industrial history websiteIndustrial History website- Grace’s guide non-profit guide

Here are some pictures of the Factory
Sorting fruit
Chivers factory

Working as an art teacher in Cullen in 1930s by Margaret Fearnley

Margaret was born 99 years ago in 1913, She wanted to become an art teacher so she went to Dundee Art College in the early 1930s for four years to train in drawing, painting, textile design and a little sculpture. She started teaching at Cullen Junior Secondary school in 1935 where she met her husband, also a teacher but of Science. When war broke out teaching was a protected profession so she did not have to join up. She married in 1940 and stopped teaching. In the 1940s there were lots of shops in Cullen. She made her own clothes until very recently.

Memory contributed by Margaret Fearnley from Fochabers

Additional Information

Buckie High School history and closure of the junior secondary schools in Portgordon, Buckpool (St.Peter’s), Portessie, Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen in the 1970s.

Teaching in Perth and Kinross in 1940s

“I was born in South Africa where my dad worked until I was three years old. Then we lived in Nairn where my Dad had the West End Drapery. I did my teacher training in Aberdeen and then taught at Perth and Kinross for 2 years. My first school was a country school of 30 children with threee classes of all ages. There were only two teachers- the Headteacher and me. I shared digs with the head and paid her about £5 per month out of the £13 a month I eanred. This included ny food. Sometimes I cooked scrambled eggs on the stove in the classroom. I got the bus at 7 a.m. and then walked 1 1/2 miles to school.

Seine net trawler Hopeman 1958 © Copyright Christopher Gillan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Seine net trawler Hopeman 1958

I really enjoyed teaching country children who were so biddable and there was no rough stuff as a rule but I did once have to shove an elder boy out the door when he continued to misbehave in class. This was while I was standing in for the Head while she was off sick. There is a big change these days and less discipline. After two years I went to teach at Hopeman Secondary School with 40 pupils. When I was looking for digs in HopemanI met my future husband in my free time. I went to lots of dances in the public hall in nairn and also the cinema. I got married to the local butcher in Hopeman in 1951 and carried on teaching until 1955 when my daughter was born. I was asked to fill in at another school and I found a lady to look after our daughter. When I told my daughter she was surprised. In 1958 my son was born then I went back to teaching in the 1960s. Then I did the books for my husband and served in his butchers shop too.”

Jo Sweeney, Royal Voluntary Service Volunteer interviewed this lady in Elgin. 

Additional information

More information about Hopeman village and its origins

Delivering pails of milk in Edinvillie by Aileen Garrow

Aileen was born into a farming family in Edinvillie in 1932. They owned Bush Farm in Edinvillie. Aileen’s first job was delivering pails of milk to three cottages in Edinvillie. Each house had their own pail (2 large and one small). Her Father milked their two Black Irish Cows each morning to fill the pails. From the age of 8 or 9 Aileen carried the three pails with her on her way to the local primary school in Edinvillie. The three families (Hume, Ellice and Grays) lived in Milton of Edinvillie and everyone spoke Doric. Each day Aileen was paid 6d per pail for the milk. At the end of each schoolday she returned to pick up their clean empty milk pail ready for the next day’s milk. Other people had their own cow to provide their milk. Milk would vary in consistency such as when the cows went out to grass in the summer. Her Father grew different types of grass for the cows to eat. Once she was ill and unable to do her round and they gave her the money anyway. She thinks her Father took the milk. She felt very guilty because she hadn’t delivered it herself.

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school   © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Source:

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

At that time in the 1940s Edinvillie Primary School had about 40 children. There had been 70 children in her Father’s time there. It closed in 2000 when there were only 9 pupils. It had a Big End and a Wee End for the younger children (4 1/2 upwards). Each day Aileen took a bottle of milk (usually a camp coffee bottle).  Many children took half full used bottles of whisky for their milk. This was placed on the windowsill, which could sometimes be in the full sun. The children also took a play piece to eat and nothing else for the day at school. It could be a hard boiled egg, a softie with butter and jam or an apple if it was the season. Aileen met an old school friend recently who said she used to covet Aileen’s regular hard boiled eggs (a benefit of living on a farm). At Bush Farm they also made their own butter and jam (only limited by the sugar which was on ration). During the winter months the children were provided with a soup dinner paid for by funds raised by the Soup Dinner Committee.They made money from whist drives and concerts. Local farmers donated vegetables including neeps and tatties. The money raised was used for the purchase of peas, beef and bread. It also paid for a cook and a set of little soup bowls. Aileen remembers eating lentil and bacon, broth, yellow split pea soup and tattie soup. Being further from the coast they didn’t have Cullen Skink (smoked haddock soup). The bread came from a bread van from Walkers of Aberlour. It arrived on Tuesday and Friday travelling round all the houses. Although many people often made their own bread they still bought softies, plain loaves, butteries, and queen cakes.

When she was 9 she had another job in the fields of the farm. She learnt how to build sheaves of oats and barley. The farm had a Clydesdale Horse and a 2 wheel wooden cart.  The sheaves were forked into the cart when Aileen stood. She had to place them head down to “heart it up first”. She created circles turning round and round the bottom of the cart in a spiral. The heart holds everything together and eventually everything came level inside the cart with Aileen climbing on top. At the farmyard everything was lifted off and formed into a stack. During the farming year there were (and still are in places) ploughing matches and stacks were exhibited.

Aileen stayed on at school into secondary at Aberlour and completed her Higher Leaving certificate. She was not very good at maths. Mr Miller was her Maths teacher. She sat the Lower Maths in secondary in Class 4.  She then went on to do her Higher English, Arithmetic, French, German, Latin and History in Class 6 at Secondary. She went on Aberdeen University to study Arts and later a Masters with honours in English Language and Literature. Her first year involved the study of English, French and German. Second yr- Advanced English, German and Latin. Third year- Junior Honours year- English and Moral Philosophy. Final year- Honours English. She then completed her teacher training at Aberdeen Training College in Psychology, Education and Biology. Her first job was at Narin Academy teaching Higher English. She stayed there her whole teaching career. She did stop in 1961 to help her mother on the farm after her Father suddenly passed away. By then the family had two farms, Bush and Upperton. Mr Grieve was a manager and he ran both farms for them. In 1965 her mother died and she returned to teach at Nairn Academy commuting from Bush Farm. Later she got married to James “Grantie” Garrow and he moved into Bush farm. He came from a local farming family, the Grant-Garrows and she had known him since they were both children.

Memory contributed by Aileen Garrow from Fochabers

Additional Information

The Tale of the Cheeryble Grants written by Aileen Garrow

Farming work
Australian_cart  Taken by fir0002 | Source  Details of licensing is here“Arranging the sheaves on the cart was very skilled as well – as with rick-building the sheaves had to be arranged carefully or the cartload or rick collapsed” source: Dorset Life website
Another link to an e-book about stacking sheaves
Stacking on a two wheeled cart- some pictures of farming in the 1930s.

Edinvillie 50th Dinner Dance
Edinvillie 50th anniversary Dinner danceAileen spoke at the dinner on 14th August 2009 about the early days of the Village Hall.
“Mr Burns then called upon Aileen Garrow, a former resident of Edinvillie, who spoke about the early days of the Hall, remembering many of the personalities who had contributed to its successes.”

History of Edinvillie School

Edinvillie history website featuring the school Source:

Edinvillie History website featuring the school

Here is a website with information about the History of Edinvillie School.

Teaching at Aberlour House by David Hanson

Link to George’s Welsh’s memory>>

David began his teaching career in Slough at the age of 22 in 1963. His first school was William Penn County Secondary School, Buckinghamshire. He had achieved a degree in Physics and Chemistry at Sheffield University prior to his appointment. He was inspired in his career choice by his French teacher. His first job paid £70 per month. He set about the development of a science laboratory in the school. Went to Eton College to talk to a man about making Science benches. He used tubular steel and sheets of plywood. Had to allow space for the gas taps. The school did a study on water voles on the Thames, which was unusual. He taught all the Sciences and was self-taught in Biology, teaching up to O’level in this subject.  Got a reflecting telescope but it was difficult to open it in the evening as the school system would not pay for a caretaker to open and lock up. It was frustrating. Stayed in the school for a year.

Aberlour House gate house

Aberlour House gate house

Moved then to Aberlour House in Moray, which was a total change. Applied for a job as a teacher of Mathematics and Science (8-13 years). Accommodation was included. The head, Toby Coghill (1964-1989) came up to Slough. Meeting him was an inspiration. David was invited to come and look at the school. He had decided to take the job as the train came up to Craigellachie and he saw the beautiful landscape. Prior to this he had only been as far as Aviemore. The school was for boys only until 1973 when it became co-educational.

He was able to organise a wide variety of activities for the children. There were numerous expeditions and field trips. David and his classes started a study of bird pellets from Barn Owl Roosts and other birds of prey. As the Recorder of Mammals for Moray the findings were reported to the National Mammal Society. David founded the International Bird Pellet Study Group and started communicating with people all over the world including museums and universities. the children’s role was making observations and recordings.

Porcellio spinicornis by Jomegat, Contributor  Creative Commons License source

Porcellio spinicornis

Another study was the distribution of woodlice during a given year e.g. 1970. With the children, David found one woodlouse in a holiday cottage in the Cabrach and sent it to a Scottish Woodlouse Expert. It was a Porcello Spiniconis (related to Porcellio Scaber) and had not been seen in Scotland before. It had a black head and yellow spots. They went looking for it every 10 sq. km. and found them everywhere including the mortar of ruined cottages. A distribution map was created.

Click here to continue reading about David’s teaching work including cockroach trading, flea collecting, setting up a bird pellet group and solving rubik cubes…………

Memory contributed by David Hanson from Dufftown

Nicki Torres’ work as a teacher in Hampshire

Nicki was a teacher at Chalmer Road County Primary School in Hampshire. Taught Speech and Language. She gave her wage, which was quite scant, to her mother. She worked in the Speech and Language Unit and used a variety of equipment including projectors, radios, radiograms, televisions and game sessions. She had trained for four years before starting the job.

In her own time she enjoyed sewing, gardening, playing card games and singing.

Nicki Torres from Elgin was interviewed by S2 pupils at Elgin High School

Alice’s work as a domestic science teacher

Alice started her working life as a domestic science teacher in Inverness in 1938 at the age of 21. She chose the job because she was interested in food. She had completed her teacher training in Edinburgh. Her working day began at 9 a.m. and the children finished at 4 p.m. in those days. She got a lunchtime break but she couldn’t go home. In her time off she went Highland dancing, playing badminton, tennis and travelling including to New Zealand.

Alice Taylor was interviewed by S2 pupils at Elgin High School