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


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.


Vera’s first job as a waitress at the Playhouse Cinema café

The Playhouse Café was located on the right as you went into the cinema. Vera started work there at the age of 17 in 1937. She wore a navy/black frock as a uniform and an apron. Her duties included taking orders and serving tea. China tea cups were used to serve tea. At this time the cinema still had its main entrance off the main street and there was only one screen. The cinema was divided into two in 1986. Vera does not remember a piano even though she saw silent films played there as well as talkies. The back seats of the cinema were reserved for the courting couples.

In her spare time Vera went dancing. Later on she worked for a tailoress in the High Street. She made Ladies’ skirts and altered Men’s trousers.

Additional Information

More information about Scottish Cinema and Theatre ProjectElgin cinema history from Scottish

Petrie Dick recording

The Petrie dick is a small toy which was popular in schools in the North-East of Scotland. Here is a recording of local resident, Margaret Forsyth playing it at the recent Christmas Lights switch on in Elgin. Margaret’s Father used to make the toy for his family from spare pieces of wood.

Click here to play an audio clip of a Petrie Dick toy being playedaudio  recording of a Petrie Dick being played

an image of the Petrie Dick musical toyHere is a link to more information about the Petrie dick toy.

Forestry tree planter at Newton by James McPherson

Newton House by CA Miller  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Newton House by CA Miller This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

James started his job as a tree planter at the Newton Forestry commission site near Elgin in 1939. It was the only job he could get at the time at the age of 14. He needed to get a bike to cycle to Newton and back home. Three of his workmates walked from Hopeman to Newton everyday (distance 4 1/2 miles – 1 hr 35 mins). He earned 19 /- a week and had the weekends off. He gave his earnings to his parents. He started work at 8 o’clock and then had a tea break at 9.30 a.m. For his lunch he had sandwiches, a banana and a drink. The work day ended at 4.30 p.m. In winter James worked in a shed. Everything was done by hand in those days. There was no training. When he wasn’t working he played bowls and played football. After working in Forestry he went to work at the Greenbrae Quarry in Cummingston as a labourer. Then he went on to work on the Kinloss RAF base for 25 years washing Nimrods and Shackletons.

James MacPherson was interviewed by Cora Mackenzie, a pupil at Burghead Primary School.

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.

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 Post Mistress at Logie Post Office by Jean Raphael

 Raphael Cathay Nursing HomeJean started her working life in 1934 at the age of 14 helping her Mother run their local post office and shop in Logie. Prior to that she had attended the school in Logie just behind the shop. Jean and family lived in the same building and her Mother was the postmistress. Her Father, a farm worker had died fairly young and Jean’s Mother, Caroline had to support Jean and her two older sisters by herself.

Logie House   This was an estate of the Cummings (Comyns) of Logie, rivals of Robert the Bruce. The earliest part of the house dates from 1655, it was rebuilt in the late 18th century and re-styled in 1860 with crow-stepped gables, white harled and with angle turrets.

Logie House

The van brought the deliveries once a week from a supplier in Elgin. The post office sold lots of stamps, postal orders and national insurance stamps. Money was sent to Elgin weekly. The shop was a busy place. Most of the customers were farm workers. Logie House servants were also regular visitors and occasionally the lady of the house would pay a visit. The shop was able to run an Austin car. Her older sister worked in the post office as well. Jean took over as postmistress and eventually her daughter followed Jean into the same post.

Memory contributed by Jean Raphael from Forres

Nora Frankish’s work as a clerk for Rushton Hornsby Engineering Works in Lincoln

Comptometer model ST Super Totalizer

Comptometer model ST Super Totalizer

Nora went to work when she turned 16 in 1938. She worked in the Comptometer Room. It was very noisy. She stayed there for a year before moving on to her next job as a clerk in the Social Services Department of Lincolnshire County Council. Her job was collating the number of children in school. The data picked up how well they were doing in school all over the county in lots of different schools. She met her husband there. He worked in the Royal Army Pay Corps@ Leicester didn’t pass for active service.

When the war started in 1939 she went to work for Hovis Flour mill (Albion Mill) from 1939 to 1941.She also worked for Avro Aviation which built plane parts. Women did some of the heavy engineering works. There were men still working there.

Another job was in a large office. It was a big one with lots of tables and it handled the post for the armed services. It dealt with the letters from soldiers or their wives. The post was collected in the office, sorted then sent on to where the man was posted. An officer was posted at each table for anything we couldn’t deal with. One of the officers was a “dopey” Lieutenant. Once they wrote a note for him which said…..

“You are a silly fool. You’ll sign anything that is put in front of you.”

He dully signed it and sent it up. He got in trouble for that.

Memory contributed by Nora Frankish from Aberlour

Additional Information
More information about the Hovis Flour Mill- Albion Mill in Lincoln. Interestingly there is an article cited talking about their memories of working at the mill by a W.M. Frankish. Perhaps a relation of Nora?

A Memory of the Royal Army Pay Corps in Leicester