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


Speyside Lunch Club-general memories

whiskThere was a lady who had worked on the boats called Granny Steven. She lived in Pennan.
They knew of women who used wisker to knit socks, jumpers and ganseys.

Fishing tales

The fishing women sewed the money made from gutting fish into their underwear to keep it safe on long journeys by train.
The women wrapped cotton around their hands to avoid cutting thier hands by accident when preparing and salting the fish. Afterwards they would wash the cotton, wrap it up and keep it safe for the next time.

Tattie picking in the Tattie holidays
The money made during these weeks were used for school uniforms for the following year. The children made 8 /- 6d. a day which was handed over to their Mum at the end of the day.

Pocket Money
To earn extra pocket money, children went around the neighbourhood collecting tattie peelings and veg peel in a bucket. The bucket contents were sold and then money used to fund trips to the cinema on a Saturday afternoon. 2d. for a front seat. 6d. for chumming seats and 1 shilling for the courting couples seats at the back of the cinema. Tattie peeling burnt well on the fire and lasted ages. The Fleming hall had a cinema in it.

The Speyside Lunch Club remembered there was a film called “Calling Blighty” about the servicemen calling home during the Second World War.

Additional Information
How a wisker/weker or knitting belt was used to support knitting >> knitting in the round

Working as a nursery nurse in Tottenham by Iris Coleman


Flash Gordon source: wikicommons

Iris started work in 1953 at the age of 15. She worked as a nursery nurse and then when she turned 16 she went to work in an Insurance Office. Her next job was for Pearsons in Enfield where she was in the china department. She also worked as an usherette at one of the cinemas in Luton. She enjoyed seeing the Pathe news and the trailers along with the famous Pearl and Dean music which played as it does now in front of the adverts.She never sold the icecream. It was served by girls on their trays. Often there would be two films running continuously and you could go in at any time. A lot were war films and cowboy films. Saturday morning was 6d (sixpence) and was for children. There were serials such as Flash Gordon and films starring Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Memory contributed by Iris Coleman, Cullen

Christies Nurseryman by David Alexander Cameron

“I did the planting at Christies Nursery in Forres. The Wages were not great. I was paid off then worked at Kinloss Airbase cleaning aircraft hangers and then I worked at the sawmill but I didn’t like it. I cleaned the streets in Forres and often found money. I worked six days and 2 hours on Sunday.

When I was at school I was a fast runner so I was put in the relay. When we won all I got was a penny! Someone bet I couldn’t run eight times round the cricket pitch in Grant park but I did it.

Cinema archive website- Forres CinemaMy Dad was a baker where Ashers is now. It was Forresters Bakers was where he worked. We got scones and cakes brought home to us. When I wasn’t working I went to the British Legion but it’s not the same now. I used to go to the cinema where Whites is now in Forres. War films and westerns were my favourites. It cost 9 pence to sit in a hard seat. When the film had started I jumped over the seat to sit with the Lassie I liked then walked her home. My older sister worked at the telephone exchange in Elgin and she used to give me money so I could impress a girl. My sister used to go to dances at the Two Red Shoes in Elgin”.

David Cameron was interviewed in Forres by Jo Sweeney, WRVS volunteer.

Formerly known as The Two Red Shoes Ballroom. The Beatles appeared there. © Copyright Ann Harrison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Formerly known as The Red Shoes BallRoom


Additional Information

Click on the thumbnail above to reach an excellent website specialising in recording Scottish cinemas and theatres.

This memory was collected by WRVS volunteer, Jo Sweeney

Jean’s first job as a caterer

Jean was born in her grandmother’s farmhouse in Elgin. Jean worked as a caterer in cooking and cleaning in Elgin. She worked in many hotels and restaurants like the Laichmoray, The Mansion House, and The Mansfield. Jean also worked as a butcher and a baker. She started working when she turned 16 in 1955. She chose this job because her Mum was a cook. Later in life Jean worked in knitting and needle work shops and then worked in Hays Lemonade where Tesco is now. At Hayes she put bottles in a machine ready to be filled with lemonade. When she had time off she got up to mischief. She went to the Elgin Cinema. In the summer the girls played tennis at Cooper Park. Jean’s mother worked in a big house in London away from home as a cook. Her mother’s sister was a maid. When her mother was away Jean looked after herself.

Memory contributed by Jean from Elgin

Additional information

Elgin cinema history from

Scottish Screen Archive- A cinema trailer for the Playhouse Elgin thanking patrons and wishing them a happy and victorious New Year.Christmas cinema trailer for 1944.
Title: CHRISTMAS 1944
Reference number: 1462
Date: 1944
Sound: sound    Colour: bw
Fiction: non-fiction
Running time: 1.31 mins

Bonita’s first job as an usherette

The Lyric Cinema taken from the church green. One of the most important buildings in a teenager's life in the 1960s. It opened on the 28th October 1939. Bonita Thompson’s first job was an usherette in summer holidays before teacher training. She was 16 or 17 when she started her job in 1958 at the Lyric Cinema, North Allerton, Yorkshire(now the New Life Baptist Church).  She states that the job just happened. She was the lady in the spotlight selling ice cream and she learned how to thread the projector. You had to watch the dots to know when to switch the reel. She couldn’t remember her wages but she remember she bought her first pair of heeled shoes and her second pair were even higher. She never went to the cinema much because when she worked their films were repeated three times. She went to the coffee shop and there was a jukebox. The coffee shop had Pyrex cups and saucers. Her dad bought her a dancette and records like Lonnie Donegan but her favourites were the Everley brothers. She was a boarder at Skipton Girls High School and she managed to get the housemates to take her to see Elvis Presley in Jail House Rock!

After she left school at 19 years old she was asked to return to fill in as an assistant housemistress. Half of the pupils called her Bonita and the others called her Miss C.

She did teacher training at the college then taught at Bedale Primary and Brompton Primary for 5 years before going out to Cyprus to teach at service schools for 2 and a half years. She then met and married her future husband there 40 years ago in Nicosia. The headmaster gave her away as her father had died. Her mother, sister and niece came over and she wore a fur hooded creamy/white full length coat as it was a November wedding. Her friends did the food and flowers and the officer’s mess provided 2 stewards for the reception there. The Finnish army were there as UN peacekeepers, so they provided champagne which was kept cool in Baby Burco Boilers! The beer and wine was kept cold in a bath with big blocks of ice from the ice lady down town.

She returned to UK and RAF Buchan where there was no accommodation in 1971 and a coal strike. Lived in a caravan at a filling station by RAF Buchan. There was a hole in the caravan roof and we burned packing from some wedding presents to keep warm. Eventually got a flat in Peterhead.
She did supply teaching and then taught at Boddam for 1 and a half years before moving to Brize Norton. They eventually moved to Kinloss. She also taught at West End Primary in Elgin and Andersons in Forres

Collected and submitted by Jo Sweeney, WRVS volunteer

dansette record player- click here to go to the collectors' siteOther links
Skipton High School for girls now
The history of dancettes (record players) and much much more……………
Images from the 1950s (prop hire company)
Cinema Treasures website with more information about the Lyric.
Great Lives- BBC podcast- Lonnie Donegan