Working as a tailoress for Sutherland in Forres by Grace Munro

Mrs G Adam part of Grace Munro's memoryGrace’s first job was at the age of 14 for a tailor in Forres was shortlived as she returned home one day and had been cleaning the shop windows. Her Mum was not impressed.
“You can clean the windows at home,” her mother told her. “I put you there to learn tailoring.”

So instead she went to work for a Polish tailor in Tolbooth Street. John Tubis had been a prisoner of war in Balnageith camp in Forres and then chose to stay on after the war finished. Her mother had sewed on a treddle machine converted to electric. Grace learnt pattern cutting. Also how to make pockets, linings and buttonholes. Brown paper was used to cut out the patterns on. The fitting was only done by the tailor. The fabric was suiting and not tartan. The sewing skills she learnt were put to good use throughout her life, for both work and pleasure.

Her family were brought up in Forres. Each day they had a delivery from Greshop Dairy. They used a horse-drawn cart and the horse was called Polly. Polly was a creature of habit and she would not move from the shop until she had had an icecream. Her mother, Mrs G. Adam was a remarkable business woman (see the newspaper cutting on the right).  She started her family in Burghead and then moved to Forres when Grace was born. Her father died when Grace was three. The family business, Adams was based in the building at the roundabout at the junction of St. Catherine and Nairn Road which had a peacock on it. It was at 1 Bogton Place, Forres.  The Business included a Bed and Breakfast, Fish and Chips and Icecream. It was on the main road to Inverness and Aberdeen and was a stopping off point for lorry drivers on the long journeys. Read the newspaper article for more details.

Grace went to school in Forres.  During the Second World War she remembers that if the siren went and you could run home in 5 minutes you could go home. After the all clear sounded her Mother sent her back to school.

Memory contributed by Grace Munro, Elgin

Additional Information

Grace Munro interview- Moray Older People's Newsletter Spring 2013

Grace Munro interview- Moray Older People’s Newsletter Spring 2013

Older People’s Newsletter Spring 2013– includes an interview with Grace about her time as a Tailor.

An article written by local pensioner, Violet Fraser about her time living at the Balnageith POW camp after the war when it was not longer is used for POWs. Commenmorative plaque at the site. More information about the site of the camp.

Greshop dairy- Occasionally Vintage milk bottles from the dairy come up for sale on the online site Ebay.


Nan Maver’s first job in Fruit and Confectioner’s shop in Forres

“My family had a Fruit and Confectioners Shop in Forres High Street where I worked in the 1950s. I was trained in all aspects and did balancing the ration coupons after the shop closed for the evening. I also joined the girls training corps and trained with them once a week. Identifying aircraft, square bashing and first aid. I wanted to join the wrens and as I had 2 cousins in the navy but I was too young to be called up and I was working in the shop. I can remember the smell of oranges and onions in the shop. How difficult it was to ration families. I stayed working at the shop until 1950. Twice a week I volunteered with a friend helping to make powdered milk, washing dishes, wiping down tables or anything that was needed in the many canteens such as Bank Lane Sunday Canteen for Church of Scotland where hundreds of servicemen would go for a meal. I think it was around 1941 that Nissan huts were purpose built on Sanquar Estate for these servicemen. In Forres there were dances at the Town Hall, Drill Hall and Masonic Hall for about 1/- 6d. entrance.

Click her to see a picture of the Andersons building Forres Scotlands PlacesI did typing classes at Andersons and I represented Moray and Nairn Girls Training Corps in Gloucester and Aberdeen. We wore navy skirts and jersey and I had 3 stripes and a crown.
My dad was a Private in the Home Guard at night in the Telephone Exchange above the Post Office in Forres.

Burn of Mosset, Forres Source From

Burn of Mosset, Forres. Source from

We didn’t go on holidays as children but I got around on my bike and used to cycle to my Aunty in Burghead for holidays. Sometimes I would get a lift back with the taxi taking fishwives to Forres to sell their fish. I met my future husband in Burghead. When I was 12 years old! We lived by the Mosset and I always played in it and always got our feet wet. My grandfather moved from Fochabers to Forres and he was a miller at Forres Mills. We could watch the whole milling process from top to bottom and then buy our bag of porridge oats to take home to cook. I was married for 58 years and I have enjoyed my life.

Nan Maver was interviwed in Elgin by Jo Sweeney, a WRVS volunteer

Additional Information

Drill Hall project including Forres Drill Hall
Click here to read  more about a Drill Hall Project websiteThe project was started in an attempt to record the Drill Halls of the Territorial Army in the period 1908 – 1914. With a few notable exceptions, these buildings are unremarkable, functional and ignored by history. Yet they were an important part of our military and social heritage. They provided a base for the Territorials to meet and train, and a practical space for fêtes and dances for the local community.

Here is some more information about Forres Mills including photographs of the mill. It is also known as Plasmon Mills.

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

The Tale of the Frozen Horse’s Head by Kenneth Ross

Here is a rather gruesome tale from Anatomical training.

Read more information about Kenneth’s working life first job and Memory of working life memory 2>>>>>

“A Biologist has to ensure that his future wife can withstand sights that the faint might do just that;  remember I did Anatomy at Med School in Edinburgh.  

Many years ago I was required to demonstrate the differences in dentition between a Carnivore and Herbivore and so seeking the jaw of the latter I contacted Edinburgh Zoo where elderly horses were slaughtered to feed the lions. I was told that they would have a jaw for me on a particular Saturday. 

Being a Scot and realising that this would be an official visit and so needn’t pay for admission to the Zoo I took my fiancée along so that we could get free entry and have a look around at the same time as collecting my jaw.   I turned up at the Lion House and introduced myself.  ‘Yes’ I was told, ‘We have a good large head for you’.  Now it never entered my head that I would be handed anything other than a beautifully cleaned upper and lower jaw and so was a bit taken aback when presented with a great, bloody head.  ‘Where’s your car? ’ I was asked.   Well we hadn’t driven and had come by bus.  ‘Never mind, we’ll wrap it up for you’, and soon I was presented with my head wrapped in brown paper and so Mary and I had to forego our free tour round the Zoo and retrace our steps to the bus stop with me carrying a large brown parcel containing my horses upper and lower jaw.  Another thing on which I hadn’t counted was the fact that at the Zoo the jaw had been kept  in a refrigerator awaiting my arrival, and by the time we reached the bus stop the blessed thing was decidedly thawing out and a stain beginning to appear through the wrapping paper.   On boarding our bus I left the jaw where one leaves luggage without drawing attention to myself;  just as well for when I hurriedly picked it up on reaching our destination there was a pool of blood in the luggage compartment.  

Anyway, we reached Mary’s digs but here we were on a Saturday morning with a whacking great, bloody, horse’s jaw; no fridge and the awareness that the thing would be stinking by Monday morning. Fortunately Mary had a large galvanised pail and soon the jaw was simmering away on the gas cooker and a few hours later I was able to take the jaw out and dissect away most of the meat- but now I was left with a considerable pile of flesh and what to do with that.   Must shorten this story. I wrapped the meat up in newspaper and took it along a street until I found a bus stop where there was a large container hanging on the stop for the disposal of used tickets.   I had to walk past the stop a couple of times to ensure there was no-one waiting: incidentally by this time my newspaper covered head was beginning to steam.   No-one at the stop –  I dropped my parcel into the container and made a hurried retreat.  I can just picture someone arriving at the stop and seeing a parcel steaming and opening it with some curiosity. (these were the days before bomb scares).  I wonder if the ambulance service had to be called to deal with someone who had collapsed with shock for it could have been a dismembered body.  Come to think of it does Edinburgh City Police still have an open file on the human remains found at a bus stop at Tollcross.   Mary needless to say survived the unexpected Test and my demonstration was very successful and no-doubt memorable to the students to whom I recounted this tale in somewhat fewer words.”

Memory contributed via email by Kenneth Ross, Forres

Additional Information
Kenneth has been involved in the Falconer Museum since he came up to Forres in 1969 to work at the new Forres Academy. Details in the Memory of working life 2 article.

Feeding the hens by May Bichan

May’s first job was feeding the hens (1961) and collecting eggs at the Myre of Bedlam in Aberdeenshire. Next farm was Hardbedlam. Her father was a dairy farmer.

Description English: Burgie Castle. Only this six-storey tower remains of the original large Z-plan castle.It looks in reasonable repair, though the windows have all been boarded up since 1991 when 13146 was taken. The castle was finished in 1602 by Alexander Dunbar, lay Dean of Moray. He obtained the lands from his brother-in-law Walter Reid, last Abbot of Kinloss Abbey, in 1566. The fireplace lintel is carved with the initials A D, K R and R D, presumably for Alexander Dunbar, his wife Katherine Reid and son Robert Dunbar.  Source From

Burgie Castle

Moved to Burgie Lodge in Morayshire. Got a summer job working for the Carlton Hotel in Forres waitressing. Stayed in the hotel sharing a large bedroom and a shared bathroom.  There was a permanent resident of the hotel who was a retired banker. May had to rise early to serve breakfast to the residents. Mealtimes were busy as local people came in. Often got sore feet and had to soak them in a bath.

Memory contributed by May Bichan from Forres

Additional information

Celtic origin to the place names
Hardbedlam. Hill of Bedlam; which see. Ard, hill.
Bedlam. Thicket on a hill. Bad, bushy place; laimh,
gen. of lamh, hill. An old form is Bedlain, which would
mean thicket of the plain. Bad, bushy place; lean, meadow,
level place”  source

Aerial view of Burgie Lodge and estate- Scotlands Places

Working as a community staff nurse in Forres by Helen Main

Leanchoil Hospital in Forres, Leanchoil is the cottage hospital serving the town of Forres. It mainly offers respite and palliative care and convalescence. It was designed in 1889 by John Rhind, who died before it was built, and the design was taken over and progressed by Henry Saxon Snell and Son. It was completed and opened in 1892. Helen started training as a nurse at Leanchoil Hospital in Forres in 1964. She did her training before she got married. As a child her Father had the freehold of a pub in Burghead and she worked there rolling out the barrels and cleaning from the age of 10 years old.
Once she had qualified she was paid £25 a month live out or £15 live in rate. She took nine years out to have children and returned in 1976. There was no retraining, just straight back in as an SEN. She did a conversion course about 12 years ago changing from an SEN to an SRN and working as a community nurse with her own car. There was an allowance for petrol  and she wrote down the mileage to claim it back. 

Capercaillie This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.One of her most frightening experience was when she went to see a patient near Burghead. Driving along the front windscreen suddenly went dark when something landed on the screen. It looked like a prehistoric monster. The patient she was seeing was a gamekeeper and he told her there was a nest of Capercaillie nearby.

Memory contributed by Helen Main

Working in Coopers the Grocers by Bella Condie

“I started work at the age of 14 in 1935.  I worked for Coopers the Grocers in Forres.  I got the job through my mother who often shopped there.  I was a cashier so I was not involved in selling the groceries, but I sat in a separate area and took the money.

 Grant Park in Forres

Grant Park in Forres

One of my memories was of lowering all the blinds when Sir Alexander Grant’s funeral procession passed through Forres (he donated Grant Park to Forres, I think because he liked football).  I had one day off a week and one week off a year and earned 10/- per week. I had a very good boss and always remember him saying to the staff, “Be good, I’m just going out to get my hair cut, especially you, Bella”, and that’s when I was encouraged to have a go on the meat slicer by one of the lads who worked there.  Of course, I cut my finger and had to run across to the chemist who bandaged it up.  The boss was not too pleased when he got back to see me with a huge bandage on my hand.  I remember a lad coming in to buy 20 Players cigarettes. He lived in Inverness but was working on the building of the new RAF base at Kinloss. The other staff thought that he was sweet on me, but I wasn’t bothered. I was promoted to the accounts section when I was 16.”

Bella Condie from Forres was interviewed by Heather Heppenstall, WRVS volunteer

Additional information

Information on Alexander Grant 
 “As a young baker from Forres in Morayshire, Grant had had the temerity to present himself at the bakery of Robert McVitie in Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, in 1887 and ask for a job. Told that there were no vacancies, he picked up a scone, examined it closely, and announced: “Ye canna mak’ scones in Edinburgh.” McVitie relented and took him on. ”  For more information on the Grant Family go to the source.

Grant Park Infomation– given to the people of Forres largely due to the generosity of Sir Alexander Grant. Forres House and its grounds made up the 32 acres that are now Grant Park. More information in a leaflet on the park.

More information on Alexander Grant– Biscuit manufacturer, who is said to have invented the ‘digestive’

Rosemary’s office work at R & R Urquhart

“I worked for R R Urquhart’s, Forres in 1948 when I was 16.  The job was advertised in the Forres Gazette.  I think I got it because the Town Clerk knew my Dad.  I worked in the office, I copied letters on a gestetner machine, and had to walk the length and breadth of Forres to deliver them (it saved the boss a stamp, but not my shoe leather!).  I also had to deliver them after I left work, which meant getting home late.  I went to evening classes to learn shorthand and typing, then got promoted upstairs to the typing pool which I enjoyed because one of my jobs was to type up about the films being shown in the local cinema.  I worked there for 3 years until I got married to an airman and was posted away from Forres.  I was paid 30/- per week initially, and £2 after promotion.  I had Saturday afternoon and Sunday off and 2 weeks holiday per year.”

Rosemary Chester was interviewed by Heather Heppenstall, WRVS volunteer in Elgin

Isobel Ross’ work as a ledger clerk

Isobel worked as a Ledger at the Royal Bank in Grantown.  She started working there at the age of 16 in the year 1942. Her job was to deal with people’s personal accounts. Isobel was allocated the job only because it came up and she took advantage of the opportunity. Every morning she started work at 9am and finished at 4pm. Often she got coffee from her bosses’ flat which was situated close to the Royal Bank. For her lunch, herself and her colleagues went into town for something to eat. She stated that in her job, she mostly wrote down things, and she used a pen to do so. She had to do all the maths in her head. She didn’t get a calculator. Isobel wasn’t given any training, she had to cope with not knowing what to do for a while, but eventually she got used to her job. She quoted ‘I enjoyed my job very much’. She left on 14th  January and got married on 9th of February 1950 she got married and eventually she had to give up her job as a Ledger at the Royal Bank. Soon after she worked in the BenMhor Hotel with her husband in Grantown on Spey. Then she worked in another hotel in Forres called the Heather Hotel. Isobel went on holiday every year. The countries she listed were; Spain, Cyprus, and France. One year she said that herself, her Husband and some close friends drove down to France. Before the journey she was trying to learn some French, with also some experience of learning French and Secondary school. When she got there, she realised that the French were very good at speaking English.

Isoble Ross was interviewed by Keir Watson and Kieran Johnson, students at Elgin High School as part of an eleven week elective the S2 students studied on the theme of Local Heritage