Working as a van porter for Henderson’s Furniture by Peter Logie

Hendersons_furniture ElginPeter started work at the age of 15 in 1956. His first job was at Henderson’s furniture in Elgin.  He had left school with no qualifications and he had heard about the job. Peter felt that in those days there were jobs for anyone willing to work. The Local Mills could be difficult to get work in. Young people had their names put down for mill work several years earlier, by their parents who worked there. Peter’s working week ran from Monday to Friday with a half day on Saturday. He earned around £5-6 per week with two weeks holiday annual leave including Christmas Day as a holiday.  Peter’s Father was in the building trade and for him Christmas Day was a working day with New Year’s day as a day off.

Peter delivered new furniture from Henderson’s and also did removals all over Elgin through to Aberdeen and Inverness. On a rare occasion he stayed overnight. It was very hard work with lots of heavy lifting. Four people were on the removal team and two people on furniture deliveries. Sometimes getting furniture into houses was difficult. Windows could be a useful way of getting furniture into a house. Peter stayed in the job for three years and he really enjoyed it.

He went on to work for Grant Furniture until he was made redundant. Looking for a change he took a job as a kitchen porter washing dishes and general “odd bod”.  One day the Head Chef was ill and the owner came down and said  “Peter, you are doing breakfast tomorrow”. From then on he continued to work in the kitchen as a Commis Chef for 2-3 years. He went to college at Elgin Technical College to do his City and Gulids 7061. From there he went to work at the Seafield Arms in Cullen returning to take his City and Guilds 7062 (distinction pass) then back to Cullen for a further 2 years. Peter moved from there to work at the Eight Acres, where he remained the second chef for the next twenty years. He did not want to be the Head Chef as there was a lot of organisational work involved. The hotel had around sixty bedrooms and held functions for up to 200. Most nights there were 40 covers to serve. Peter liked being busy.

Leather strap from the Keith Memory Blog website

Leather strap from the Keith Primary School Memory Blog website

Old Bishopmill School memory
The original Bishopmill Primary School was on Balmoral Terrace and it closed in the mid 1930s moving to its current position on Morriston Road. Peter was at both schools. He remembers taking home the leather strap so as to avoid receiving it as a punishment. Unfortunately his idea was flawed as his Father used the strap to give him 6 lashes for taking it and then when he took it back to school he got six more from the Head Master for stealing!

Memory contributed by Peter Logie at the Messages and Memories Event at Elgin Library in June 2014


Burghead Primary School Fishing Topic

Tom Cumming's visit to Burghead Primary School

Tom Cumming came to visit his old school Burghead Primary School to talk about life in Burghead in the past, his work life in the RAF and his Father’s work as Burghead’s Scaffie in the 1930s

Burghead Primary School P5/6 class have been studying the topic of Fishing. Friday 11th October was the last day for their involvement in the Moray Heritage Memory Project.

New content

– Recipe forcullen skink recipe Cullen Skink 
Jennifer Moaut visit (SWFPA)
– Information about the Provident
Marine Biologist visit including photos
– 2 Videos added of the children learning how to repair nets and splice rope
– Class Display page added
– Tom Cumming’s memories of Burghead in 1930s, RAF and his Father’s life as the Town’s Scaffie.
-Burghead-related content – Angela Oatridge

The class wrote down what they enjoyed about the project, posted their interviews with older residents to this site (also will appear soon!). One of their final activities was to shape butter with butter pats then eat it was spreading it on a slice of tin loaf with home-made jam.

Gilbert Farquhar local retired fisherman with some of P5/6 on a visit to the harbour

Gilbert Farquhar, local retired fisherman with some of P5/6 on their visit to the Burghead harbour to learn more of working life for local fisherman

The P 5/6 class visited a variety of places around the village and had a number of local visitors in class talking about working in fishing, marine habitats, fish processing and life in Burghead in the past. They also researched, drew and wrote about their topic and participated in a variety of local crafts including net repairing and clootie mat making. To find out more follow the Education tab above this post and look for Burghead Primary School. Other schools in Moray have taken part in the project. Information on what they have done is also in the Education section.

Over the weekend a wide variety of photographs showing the children’s work on the topic will be added to this website. Also oral recordings by Tom Cumming (a local Burghead resident) will also be added. Keep checking.

rope splicing video2 Videos added of the children learning how to repair nets and splice rope
Class Display page added

Opera manager and theatre worker in South Africa by Mary Ashdown

“I came to live in Forres with my daughter, when I was 70-year-old. My father was from Yorkshire and moved to South Africa and to work as a gold/diamond and tin miner. I was born in Vendersdorp, Western Transvaal in 1934. Our Headteacher started a theatre in the school and I was very involved in it. I went to Tech. College and did typing too. I got a call to offer me the job in the theatre. I met my partner while working in the theatre. It was a very busy working life at the theatre with concerts every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. Afternoon concerts in the park so very little free time as we worked 9 a.m-5 p.m. everyday. If I did get some free time to relax I would stay home and read.

I was also helping children who had been thrown out and we had a little cottage in our garden where 10 children stayed until homes were found for them. I met Nelson and Winnie Mandela while I was doing this work. A friend who had a hotel gave us food for the children. Margot Fonteyn was one of the performers while I worked at the theatre. I stayed for 40 years and still helped out when I retired. I was the first white lady to put a black child in school at seven years of age. She did well and matriculated and went on to work. The Theatre is called Natal Performing Arts Council in Durban.”

Mary Ashdown was interviewed in Forres by Jo Sweeney, WRVS volunteer

Additional Information

Natal Playhouse website About Us pageMore information on Natal Performing Arts Council in Durban.

The Natal Playhouse is the NAPAC’s official home for the various departments.

A large number of people travelled from the UK to South Africa in search of work. There are a large number of studies of the emigration from the UK duirng the 1930s (the depression) to Canada, Australia, the US and South Africa (like Mary’s Father). Here is a graph showing the number of people who left UK shores 1890s-1960s.

Delivering pails of milk in Edinvillie by Aileen Garrow

Aileen was born into a farming family in Edinvillie in 1932. They owned Bush Farm in Edinvillie. Aileen’s first job was delivering pails of milk to three cottages in Edinvillie. Each house had their own pail (2 large and one small). Her Father milked their two Black Irish Cows each morning to fill the pails. From the age of 8 or 9 Aileen carried the three pails with her on her way to the local primary school in Edinvillie. The three families (Hume, Ellice and Grays) lived in Milton of Edinvillie and everyone spoke Doric. Each day Aileen was paid 6d per pail for the milk. At the end of each schoolday she returned to pick up their clean empty milk pail ready for the next day’s milk. Other people had their own cow to provide their milk. Milk would vary in consistency such as when the cows went out to grass in the summer. Her Father grew different types of grass for the cows to eat. Once she was ill and unable to do her round and they gave her the money anyway. She thinks her Father took the milk. She felt very guilty because she hadn’t delivered it herself.

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school   © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Source:

Milltown of Edinvillie Primary school © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

At that time in the 1940s Edinvillie Primary School had about 40 children. There had been 70 children in her Father’s time there. It closed in 2000 when there were only 9 pupils. It had a Big End and a Wee End for the younger children (4 1/2 upwards). Each day Aileen took a bottle of milk (usually a camp coffee bottle).  Many children took half full used bottles of whisky for their milk. This was placed on the windowsill, which could sometimes be in the full sun. The children also took a play piece to eat and nothing else for the day at school. It could be a hard boiled egg, a softie with butter and jam or an apple if it was the season. Aileen met an old school friend recently who said she used to covet Aileen’s regular hard boiled eggs (a benefit of living on a farm). At Bush Farm they also made their own butter and jam (only limited by the sugar which was on ration). During the winter months the children were provided with a soup dinner paid for by funds raised by the Soup Dinner Committee.They made money from whist drives and concerts. Local farmers donated vegetables including neeps and tatties. The money raised was used for the purchase of peas, beef and bread. It also paid for a cook and a set of little soup bowls. Aileen remembers eating lentil and bacon, broth, yellow split pea soup and tattie soup. Being further from the coast they didn’t have Cullen Skink (smoked haddock soup). The bread came from a bread van from Walkers of Aberlour. It arrived on Tuesday and Friday travelling round all the houses. Although many people often made their own bread they still bought softies, plain loaves, butteries, and queen cakes.

When she was 9 she had another job in the fields of the farm. She learnt how to build sheaves of oats and barley. The farm had a Clydesdale Horse and a 2 wheel wooden cart.  The sheaves were forked into the cart when Aileen stood. She had to place them head down to “heart it up first”. She created circles turning round and round the bottom of the cart in a spiral. The heart holds everything together and eventually everything came level inside the cart with Aileen climbing on top. At the farmyard everything was lifted off and formed into a stack. During the farming year there were (and still are in places) ploughing matches and stacks were exhibited.

Aileen stayed on at school into secondary at Aberlour and completed her Higher Leaving certificate. She was not very good at maths. Mr Miller was her Maths teacher. She sat the Lower Maths in secondary in Class 4.  She then went on to do her Higher English, Arithmetic, French, German, Latin and History in Class 6 at Secondary. She went on Aberdeen University to study Arts and later a Masters with honours in English Language and Literature. Her first year involved the study of English, French and German. Second yr- Advanced English, German and Latin. Third year- Junior Honours year- English and Moral Philosophy. Final year- Honours English. She then completed her teacher training at Aberdeen Training College in Psychology, Education and Biology. Her first job was at Narin Academy teaching Higher English. She stayed there her whole teaching career. She did stop in 1961 to help her mother on the farm after her Father suddenly passed away. By then the family had two farms, Bush and Upperton. Mr Grieve was a manager and he ran both farms for them. In 1965 her mother died and she returned to teach at Nairn Academy commuting from Bush Farm. Later she got married to James “Grantie” Garrow and he moved into Bush farm. He came from a local farming family, the Grant-Garrows and she had known him since they were both children.

Memory contributed by Aileen Garrow from Fochabers

Additional Information

The Tale of the Cheeryble Grants written by Aileen Garrow

Farming work
Australian_cart  Taken by fir0002 | Source  Details of licensing is here“Arranging the sheaves on the cart was very skilled as well – as with rick-building the sheaves had to be arranged carefully or the cartload or rick collapsed” source: Dorset Life website
Another link to an e-book about stacking sheaves
Stacking on a two wheeled cart- some pictures of farming in the 1930s.

Edinvillie 50th Dinner Dance
Edinvillie 50th anniversary Dinner danceAileen spoke at the dinner on 14th August 2009 about the early days of the Village Hall.
“Mr Burns then called upon Aileen Garrow, a former resident of Edinvillie, who spoke about the early days of the Hall, remembering many of the personalities who had contributed to its successes.”

History of Edinvillie School

Edinvillie history website featuring the school Source:

Edinvillie History website featuring the school

Here is a website with information about the History of Edinvillie School.