Robert ‘Bob’ Jefferson’s work as a Farm Labourer

Blackhillock Farm This large farm was formerly devoted to rearing pigs.Robert (Bob) left the Higher Grade School at Rothes at the age of fourteen in 1934. He did a series of odd jobs and got training on the job. He remembers his job at Blackhillock Agricultural Farm in Knockando. He had to feed the cattle and tend to the crops. There was grain crops such as barley and oats. No wheat or rye. Worked from Monday to Saturday midday and was then off until Sunday night. He lived on the farm and had to share his room with a young farmer. The bathroom was outside the house. 

Milk from the dairy cows was used for butter and cheese such as pressed crowdie. Everything was stored outside in the cold store secure from vermin. There was no refrigeration. Food was used straight away if it was perishable. The farm made its own oatcakes but not its own bread.

At the weekend Bob went home. Water was heated on the fire and a tin bath was filled. He took half his dirty clothes home for washing and left them until the following Saturday when he brought the second half and so on…. Out of his five shilling wage he paid an insurance premium to cover if he needed a doctor. There was no pension deduction as there was no state pension at this time.

Robert ‘Bob’ Jefferson was interviewed at a Kinloss Coffee Morning

Additional Information
Link to the Blackhillock Agricultural Farm Smithy Image on the RCAHMS site.


Working on a dairy farm by Belle Dicks

Mixed Dairy farm, South Molton in North Devon

“I was living at home in North London and had left school with four o’levels and one A’Level. I needed practical experience to be accepted for an agricultural farm placement. I wanted to live and work animals, but with no experience I had to apply for a farm pupil job. I was interviewed with my mother and was shown round the farm and house as I was to be living in with the farmer and his family. I was given £1 a week and my keep and 1 1/2 days off but I agree that I’d save my day off for six weeks and then come home to London on the tram for a week (train fare was £3 return). Half day was after one on Saturday but back in time for milking at 6 p.m.

Working day
I worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday except Saturday which was my half day. We had a good cooked breakfast after milking at about 9 a.m. We had to get the churns up the road end which was about a mile away in time for the milk lorries collection. All the milk went to Ambrosia Creamed Rice Factory in Taunton. About 10 p.m. The hens and pigs were fed and eggs collected, carried pails of water to three deep litter hen houses. Dinner was usually about One to two, then there was all the other jobs to be done- i.e. moving the electric fence to stripe graze the kale (I hated this job). In the winter we had a couple of days thrashing the corn,  neighbours came and helped and then we went to their farm. In return,we had to prepare a lot of food to feed everybody and it was very hard work carrying the threshed corn up steps to the loft for storage. The sacks weighed 2 1/2 cwt(hundred weight) each. Another of the jobs was starting the generator for the
only electricity we had and needed it for milking in the new milking parlour.

Tilly lamps Indoor we had tilly lamps and candles upstairs and at bedtime the “Genny” was switched off at 10 p.m. I also had to hand pump water up to tank from the well outside the kitchen door, which took a while. The first time I didn’t pump fast enough to get it into the tank. I was soon put right on that job! Then it was getting the cows in for milking at 6 p.m. Wash and clean up the dairy and milking parlour, then it was tea-time about 7 p.m. Evening was spent listening to the radio and cleaning eggs. By the time I’d been there three months and had a hard set of callouses across the palms of my hands and endured a very steep learning curve.”

Belle Dicks submitted her memory on a downloaded form from the website

Additional Information

History of AmbrosiaAmbrosia of Old 

The brain child of an English businessman, with the help of an American and the landlord of The Arundell Arms, Ambrosia came into being back in 1917.

Grace's guide British Industrial History Ambrosia Rice Pudding Factory
Grace’ Industrial History Site
Ambrosia Rice Pudding
 is a well known brand in the United Kingdom. Its original product was a dried milk powder for infants, but it is most famous for its custard and rice pudding.

Working at Henderson Furniture

Kathleen’s Father was a cattleman and her first job was hashing the neeps at five o’clock in the morning. She was 14 1/2 yrs old and it was 1944. She lived in the country in a place called Coalburn. She soon decided that she didn’t want to hash neeps anymore and got a job working at the bookshop at the railway station.

When she came to Elgin she worked at Henderson Furniture. She had to dust the furniture and use a Ewbank on the carpets. There was no vacuum cleaner to use.

Each day Kathleen had to leave home early to walk to school and she got home at about five o’clock. There were no school meals just a cup of cocoa.

Memory contributed by Kathleen, Lossiemouth

Carrie Paterson’s farm life in Spey Bay

Spey Bay This view shows why sea defences were thought necessary. The houses are very close to the shingle banks, and a wild winter storm could threaten them        Spey Bay Looking along the curve of shingle towards the distant Bin of Cullen. 

Floods Farm Spey Bay by Colin MurphyDuring the war years Carrie was at school. She lived on a farm called Darnish Farm, Keith. She went to college in Keith for a year from 1944-1945 for shorthand and typing. At the age of 20 she got married to Alexander “Sandy” . They lived on the Crown estate of Spey Bay and the farm was called Floods farm. Carrie has a drawing of it on her wall drawn by Colin Murphy.


The farm grew turnips, carrots and potatoes. During the Tattie holidays local school children were paid “10 bob” a week. They picked “Tatties” and put them in a box. The potatoes were bagged and sold on to merchants who collected them from the farm. The carrots were for their own use.

Poultry provided eggs, which were then sold. Initially the hens were free range but then they moved to deep litter barns as it was more efficient.
Pigs were processed for pork on site to provide sausages and ham. The trotters were not used as there was considered to be no meat on them.
Cattle were sent to market in Elgin at the auction house. Some of the milk was used for butter. Using the farm’s churn the butter was made into butter pats collected and sold.

Life in Spey Bay

Spey Bay Hotel Picture taken in 2007 source WkiThe Spey Golf Course was very well known and was a busy place. The gravel pit was also going then. That was between the farm and the seashore. There was also a railway station in Spey Bay. Lots of visitors came to stay at the Spey bay Hotel to play golf and enjoy the seaside. At Christmas it was very busy.  Carrie and her husband would go for a meal at the hotel on a Saturday night. There was music, dancing with accordian playing and local fiddle music. Sometimes there was a four bit band (drum, fiddle, accordian, piano?).
Further down the road towards Fochabers was a shop and post office. It sold papers and local groceries but did not deliver papers.

Memory contributed by Carrie Paterson, Buckie

Additional Links
potato advert from Scottish Screen OnlineScottish Screen Online 1951 advert to children to encourage them to take part in the potato harvest.

Farming work on an old jousting ground by Mac (William MacGregor)

Blervie Castle. The tower is the remnant of the 16th century castle, property of the Dunbars. It is very similar to nearby Burgie Castle (NJ0959)       Califer from near Blervie Castle The road winding up the hill is picked out by twin lines of whins in full bloom. The farm in the left distance is Easter Califer

After three years of Latin and French at Forres Academy I decided to leave school. My first job was at Marcassie Farm, Rafford. Marcassie are flat lands below Blervie Castle. Marcassie means tilting ground and Mac heard that the site was where the knights from the nearby Blervie castle jousted.

“Marcassie. From the Gaelic Marc, a horse, and A is, a covert, a hill, or stronghold. A tilting field. ”  source:  

Interesting Discovery
In 1940 I was ploughing new soil and I found a axe. I took the axe to the Falconer’s museum . It was sent to Robert Gordon College in Aberdeen where it was identified as a medieval woodman’s axe.

Work Life
Mac’s ploughing work was for the war effort. He had to plant Rye for Rye bread. The land was not suitable for barley or wheat. The top soil was very good with a sandy sub-soil which meant the soil was not waterlogged as it did not hold the rainwater.

War work
He was in a protected occupation as a farm worker so he was not called up however he had join the Home Guard. He felt less affected by rationing as the farm had its own milk, eggs, butter, pigs, chicken, beef cattle etc….

Follow-up on the axe discovery (Feb 10th)
Liz Trevithick at the Falconer’s museum has just found Mac’s axe and it was dated c. 1550. Mac will now be given the chance to see it again after 71 years after handing it to the museum for identification.

Memory contributed by William (Mac) Mcgregor at a Kinloss Coffee Morning

Additional information
Marcassie Farm website
Horse ploughing film