Working on the Coronation counter at Woolworths in Elgin

Woolworths_in_Elgin_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1063056Marion left school as her mother was widowed and she could not afford to send her to school any more. Her bus fare from Rothes to Elgin was paid but not the uniform costs. Her first job was working in Woolworths in Elgin on the Coronation Counter. The stall sold plastic pendants with a horrible smell and miniature coaches. She used to have an hour for lunch, which was in a canteen upstairs and was subsidised. There were various counters in the shop including Quality Street on the sweet counter. A bulb was under the salted peanuts to keep them hot. The jewellery counter had a range of inexpensive metal earrings and rings. The crockery counter sold dinner sets. On a Buckie Holiday it was always very busy. They had to make sure they were well stocked on those days. Glass tumblers were also available for sale.  The Paint counter stocked different kinds of paint. There was also a grocery counter. If you worked on this counter or the sweet counter you had to wear a white overall.  Bedding paints were sold on the paint counter and a man from Springfield used to advertise his grass seed there.

For four years she worked an an invoice clerk, then Assistant Cashier and then eventually Cashier. The Stockroom Manager escorted her to the Royal Bank of Scotland every day at different times. The wages were done in big ledgers which were kept in the safe. The Saturday takings were used to pay the wages each week. Everyone was paid weekly in cash except for the Manager.

Woolworth’s fire
An extension was being built to the shop and Marion’s office was in the Paint Store upstairs. It was an Elgin holiday (April) which meant that the shop was closed. The shop was closed for quite a while due to the fire and lorryloads of burnt/ruined stock had to be taken away. Luckily the ledgers etc…. were stored in the safe so there were retrieved from the fire and used to re-order stock. Marion and other staff had to work in the Assembly rooms above Ecosse cafe (which was an newsagent then). Here all the new stock was delivered and checked while the shop was being refurbished. Marion remembers William Bains being there. He was part of the retained Elgin Fire Brigade and well-known in the area.

Additional links

Link to Scottish Screen Archive-Coronation tree planting

To the left
Coronation tree planting

– archive film of the event. The Tree Planting ceremony by Lossiemouth local dignitaries, including the Laird of Pitgavney and the Provost Dean.

Coronation souvenirs from 1953 including some coaches and other items which were often bought for children tp play with.



Frances Cruickshanks’s first job in Cairnie

Boghead house near Cairnie which was an old shop and sub-post-office

Frances Cruickshank worked as a shop assistant in the licensed grocer’s in Boghead House Cairnie between Keith and Huntley. She started work when she was 15 and a half in 1956. She also worked in a post office. She cycled around farms delivering telegrams. She had to wait for replies to wedding invitations and deaths. When other people gave birth to a child she was very happy. Shops sold fruit, veg and bread was delivered to them in a basket but not wrapped. She had to slice the bacon, cut the cheese into pieces. There was cheddar and crowdie.  She had to cut butter and put it in tubs. The sugar and flour was measured out then put into brown paperbags, which were sealed by folding over the top. Had to weigh out the oatmeal on old weighing scales. There was petrol pumps outside in the form of a hand pump.  There were very few cars usually owned by wealthy people. There were no other shops in the village. The butcher, baker and fish man all visited with their vans on a specific day of the week. The post lady may have brought the newspapers.  She stayed there until 1960 then her dad moved to Oldmeldrum. She helped him there and this is where she met her husband.

Peggy’s first job at Dick Steele in Elgin

Peggy got her first job at the age of 14. It was at a shop in the Bishopmill area of Elgin called Dick Steele. She had to work everyday except from Wednesdays and weekends and got paid about 10 shillings. She got this job because her family knew the owners. Her main duty was to deliver newspapers to customers’ houses. She had to start at 8am but the owners were very good at giving breaks and letting her go home for lunch. She finished work at 5pm.

Horse Chestnut Tree at Johnstons Woollen Mill This is a fine example. The Horse Chestnut was introduced to Britain After that she briefly worked at Johnston’s woollen mill in Elgin because they offered more money. Her main duty was filling machines with wool but she did not work there long as she was called up to serve in WW2 in the woman’s timber core.

More information about Women’s Timber Corps

A member of the Women's Timber Corps stripping the bark from a tree to be used as a telegraph pole.During World War 2, over 4,900 young women joined the Women’s Land Army Timber Corps (W.L.A.T.C.) in order to make a contribution to the war effort. They worked in the forests of Great Britain, felling, snedding, loading, crosscutting, driving tractors, trucks, working with horses, measuring and operating sawmills. This was done in all kinds of weather. One thousand were camped in wooden huts in the north of Scotland, far from the comforts of family and home. Peggy said that being called up to the timber core is very different to nowadays because people don’t get called up for national service now. She learnt how to use an axe and cut down a tree. There was no spare time for the woman in the W.L.A.T.C.

Additional Links

Forestry Memories website- Womens Timber Corps in MorayWomen’s Timber Corps in Moray

” Beatrice remembers her first day’s work cross cutting logs in Dundurcas wood in warm, brilliant sunshine wearing a short sleeved open neck blouse resulting in very painful sun burn that night. see website for more…”
Here is some more information about the Women’s Timber Corps. “The Women’s Timber Service had been set up during the first world war, but in April 1942 the Ministry of Supply (Home Grown Timber Department) inaugurated a new venture – the Women’s Timber Corps (WTC), in England. Scotland quickly followed in May 1942, forming its own Women’s Timber Corps which was a part of the Women’s Land Army. This was a new unit with its own identity and uniform.”

Stewart Cree’s first job selling coffee at the Lecht

Stewart’s first job after school was as the Lecht Services Manager. This meant selling teas and coffees from an old furniture van with the side cut out. The van was placed on the tourist route to Ballater. In those days (mid-60s) there was no skiing etc… It was a terrible summer.

Strathavon Lodge A shooting lodge, seen from the Bridge of Brown to Tomintoul road. Source: Wiki Commons

Next he worked as a grouse beater on the Strathavon Estate for Glenlivet Sporting Estates. He lived at the old Strathavon Hunting Lodge and drove an old Rolls Royce. The work was in Tomintoul. After this he returned to studying by gaining a HNC in Business Studies.

Next career move
During the next stage in his life he describes an event like a slave auction which took place at the local Rotary where his father was a member. Lek Pavlovwski, ex-polish army  had a local mill and said Stewart could start as a management trainee. The mill was Robert Laidlaw and Sons, a woollen manufacturer in Keith. It made cellular blankets, tweed tartan, travel rugs and knitted hosiery yarn. He ended up as a wages clerk at the firm.

His career move was into the Police force where he rose to the position of Assistant Chief Constable.

Other links

Keith Primary School memory by Stewart Cree

Stewart Cree’s school day memories -They are  part of Keith Primary School Memory Blog site

Click here to see an advert from 1931 for Seafield garments made by Robert Laidlaw and sons

Information on Stewart’s new role as Convenor of Moray Council -May 2012 STV Aberdeen

Moray Council Councillor work 
is here.

Elizabeth’s work in a fruit shop

Elizabeth lived in a tied cottage on Marcassie Farm, Rafford.  Her father was Mac James’ father’s cattleman. She went to school in Rafford and then went on to study at Forres Academy. In 1957 she started work at Milne Fruit Shop.

Work day
Elizabeth worked six days a week Monday to Saturday with Wednesday afternoon off when the shop shut (which many shops did then). She re-stocked the shelves and served at the counter. There was no self-service then. Paber bags were used for the fruit and people often brought in their own bags to take home the fruit. She remembers selling pears, bananas, apples, oranges but no pineapples or tangerines. There were brass scales which were regularly checked by the weights and measures.

Later she worked driving a school bus for Mr Ross @Forres taxi business.