Lab Assistant at Thomson Cod Liver Oil Factory by Jean MacPherson

Thomson's cod liver oil cream advert from the Northern Scot Christmas Post 1905Jean started work for Thomson Cod Liver Oil factory in 1942 at the age of 15. She went on to work for the Thomson family for the next thirty years. At the time she joined George Thomson worked for the firm. Her normal working day began at 9 a.m. and ended at 5.30 p.m. She was given an hour off for lunch from 1 – 2 p.m.  Her starting wage was £1 a week.

The cod liver oil was stored in metal barrels and decanted into glass bottles and latterly plastic ones during the time she worked for the firm. There was a plain and an iodised version of the oil for chesty people. They also made and sold capsules flavoured with blackcurrant.

Her journey to and from her home in Bishopmill could be very difficult. During the period of WW2 her walks home at night were very dark. This was due the lack of street lighting i.e. the blackouts. There also very bad winters with heavy snowfalls throughout the 1940s. Jean had to wade through the snow in her Wellington boots.

One summer as Jean turned 18 in April 1960, the employees were taken a work’s holiday. Jean had to obtain her first passport. In two separate groups of eight (so the factory could remain open) they travelled down to London by train and stayed at the Ambassador Hotel. During the first week of their holiday they went to see a variety of the city’s tourist attractions including Madame Tussauds and the Lyons Tea Rooms. The following week Jean’s group travelled on to Paris, managing to catch the last train from Calais before the rail workers went on strike. They were not allowed to take anymore than £15 out of the country. They were issued with ration books which were handed to the hotel. Jean remembers having a lovely room in Paris where she could smell the bakery.

They visited a number of famous Parisian landmarks including the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles. At the Louvre they saw the painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci.

Memory contributed by Jean McPherson at the Messages and Memories Event at Elgin Library

Additional Information
Grace's guide link

Lyons Coffee Shop information on a history of shops website


Book about Wireless Station wavelenghts written by R. Thomson (Horace’s Father?) in the 1920s.

An example of one of the porcelain cod liver oil spoons produced and sold by Thompsons.


Rabbit Catcher’s daughter by Hettie Milne neé Coutts

Hettie’s memories of life at Burghead School during WW2 >>>>>

Burghead 48 King Street Hettie Milne

48 King Street Burghead

Hettie was born in Burghead, Moray at 48 King Street in 1932 and she is therefore proud to be known as a “brocher”. Her mother came from Glenlivet and her Father, James “Jimmy” from Aberdeenshire. His family lived on a small holding in Aberdeenshire. He was the eldest son born in 1907 and he had to leave school at the age of 14 to work on the family farm. There were no tractors and part of Jimmy’s job was to drove cattle. Around 1920 they decided to move to Cullerne Farm, a new bigger farm located between Kinloss and Findhorn. So it was that one day his mother, younger brothers, sisters, 2 cows, a few sheep, chickens, Granny Jeannie Coutts on the cart and all their worldly goods set off. They were led by Jimmy as they started on their journey via Rhynie over the Cabrach, down Rothes Glen and onto Findhorn.

Burghead 69a Dunbar Street Hettie Milne

69 Dunbar Street

By the time that Hettie was born in 1932 her father had left Cullerne farm (at the age of 21) and moved to the nearby fishing settlement of Burghead.  One of her earliest memories is of a small shop in Findhorn. They lived at the top of town at 69a Dunbar Street. Prior to this they lived in 48 King Street. Her first job was “tattie” picking. During September/October the schools closed for what was known as the Tattie holidays (they still do). This break coincided with the readiness of the potato harvest. Hettie along with other local children, (usually aged 12 and over)  waited by the school at Burghead for a tractor and bogie to come and pick them up to start work at 7.30 a.m. each day. They started work at 8 a.m.  with short breaks until 5 at night. The tatties were collected in galvanized buckets and then poured into a wire basket. A young lad held the reins of the horse as older men tipped the basket contents into the cart. Each of the children had brought their own “piece” (snack) or lunch with them. This could be two slices of bread with corned beef or dry sandwiches with margarine and jam.   Occasionally they hunted the hedgerows for brambles sometimes taking them home at the end of the day. Some farms had apple orchards they could pick apples from.  They took or were given cold drinks. Flasks were too expensive and too easily broken.The money made from tattie picking was used to buy them a new winter coat and shoes. Any left over could be used for a bar of chocolate.

When Hettie left school she went to work for the Forestry Commission at Newton Nurseries from 1946-1951 from the age of 14 to 19 years. Her job involved replanting forests in Culbin Sands, Clashindarroch and Roseisle. She was also involved in reseeding young trees. At Heldon Hill Hettie cleared the lower branches from the trees so they could be used for telegraph poles.

Wester Alves farm  © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Wester Alves farm © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In 1951 she went to work for Miss Grant, a lady farmer at Wester Alves farm. Cattlemen brought the milk into the dairy and left it to stand. The butter and cream comes to the top. It is then put into a milk churn and the handles are turned until a flopping sound is created when the butter has formed. The butter is weighed out into the right size. Miss Grant took the butter into town (Elgin) to give to her friends. Eventually Miss Grant was taken ill. Her brother-in-law Sir Alexander Murray offered her job in London. as did his daughter, Mrs Robinson in Edinburgh. Hettie decided to say “No” to both and to go back to her Forestry Commission work.

Rabbits_on_ a_fence_source: Hettie Milne

Typical rabbit catch for Jimmy Coutts, Rabbit Catcher, Burghead. Photo Source: Hettie Milne neé Coutts

Rabbit catching
Hettie’s father, Jimmy Milne was a Rabbit catcher. This was a reserved occupation during WW2 as due to shortages of meat and therefore rationing rabbit had become one of the main replacements for the UK population. The shortages were due to the torpedoing of merchant shipping by U-boats. This led to a national shortage of a variety of foodstuffs including corn, wheat, sugar and meat. Jimmy MilneWild rabbits were prolific during this period and farmers were more than happy for Hettie’s Father to catch rabbits on their land. He paid the farmers for using their land. Country folk have always eaten rabbit, hare, pheasant and duck. Each evening he set his traps along the runs, which splayed out naturally from the rabbits’ warrens. The rabbits left a groove where their runs were. Sometimes Hettie would help her Father set the traps using a paraffin lamp to light their way. Apart from using snares he also held a 2.2 gun licence. Jimmy also kept ferrets to flush out the rabbits when the ground was too hard to set snares. He could tell when the rabbits were in their warrens as there was fresh sand outside their holes. Hettie would help her father set the traps by twising the wire and going out to collect the rabbits. He came home with a rattling car and a basket of traps to repair. Her Mother, Christina also helped by winding up a snare wire with a “thraw” hook. James put his rabbits into crates and then sent his rabbits via train down to butchers’ shops in England.

Hettie’s Mother, Christina worked at Gordonstoun when her children were older. It was hard work due to the nature of the stone floors. She also cleaned for a teacher’s wife who had a house on the bus route.

The following morning at about half past four he set off to collect the rabbits from his snares before the local wildlife had a chance to help themselves first.

In the summertime the family went to Glenlivet where her Mother was from. Christina and James had married at Achbreck Church, Glenlivet on 24 December 1931. To get there they went on the bus to Elgin, then train to Dufftown, bus to Tomintoul and then got off at Tomnavoulin. There were no street signs or road signs to take them there. You just had to know the way. The signage had been removed for the duration of WW2 in case of german invasion. Hettie’s Father continued to catch rabbits throughout their Glenlivet trips, taking his crates of rabbits to Dufftown and Glenlivet stations for transport south. In addition to sending his catch south he also supplied local butchers as well. There were poachers operating in the area as well though they had to try to sell their catch door to door.

Memory contributed by Hettie Milne from Elgin

Additional information

Childhood memories of Burghead by Hettie Milne nee Coutts by Hettie Milne

Hettie’s brother was Country singer Frankie Coutts. He had formed a duo with Willie Sutherland in the 1960s and 70s. He was well-known in Moray.

Working in the family business by Gladys Murphy neé Cruickshank

Gladys helped her parents with the family business from a young age. She left school in Keith at 13 1/2 going to work there full-time in 1944. She chose to work there because it was the family business. The business (Cruickshanks) was based next to the family home of South View, Keith situated on the edge of Keith. Cruickshanks had a big yard and farming land behind the house along with lotted land elsewhere around Keith.

Air Raid Shelter Keith Senior Primary School demolished 2010 Permission given © David McWilliams Keith Primary School was built by Alex Cruickshank (Gladys’ Father) in the late 1930s. As Gladys was born in 1930 she attended school during the Second World War. When the town air raid siren went off she had to go into one of the air raid shelters. She also took her gas mask to school every day. Both the Junior Primary (Green) School and the Senior Primary (built by her Father in the late 1930s) had shelters. The Senior Primary School building included two air raid shelters. One for boys and one for girls. Gladys remembers using a pen with a sharp nibPen with ink nib . Each desk had an inkwell. the ink was made up by the teacher from a powder. She used a slate with a bit of chalk to write on, cleaning it with a cloth from her bag. Her parents house was on the other side of the wall to the school. Her parents put her over the wall to send her to school and did the same in the holidays as a safe place to play with her friends. A large brass handbell rung at playtimes. Gladys remembers Miss Bessie Simpson and Miss Lobban.

Gladys helped in the kitchen and worked outside helping the 40 or so employees of the firm. In the summer, like many young people she picked tatties on her family’s land.

Her brother became an auctioneer at Aberdeen and Northern Mart and her sister became a teacher. Gladys ran Tarnash House for 37 years as a bed and breakfast establishment. Although closed now she still maintains contact with some of the people who stayed with her as friends.

Memory contributed by Gladys Murphy neé Cruickshank at the Keith County Show 2013

Additional Information

Lotted lands– article about lotted lands in the North-East of Scotland “Between 1720 and the 1850s some 490 planned villages, characterized by a regular layout of streets, building plots and adjacent fields (or Lotted Lands) were founded on estates throughout Scotland including 100 or so in north-east Scotland. Lotted lands were fields, typically subdivided into one- or two-acre lots,which were leased to villagers to grow crops such as oats and turnips and for grazing cattle and horses.”

Keith Primary School Memory Blog

Keith Primary School was built by Alex Cruickshank (Gladys’ Father) in the late 1930s. The building included two air raid shelters. One for boys and one for girls. Duncan McKelvie remembers the air raid shelters at the school.
Link to the cutting the turf ceremony for by his great grandson, Dean with cousins Alex and Sarah. The new Primary school opened in 2012. To read about the demolition of the old Senior Primary (Junior still exists) and the building of the new school and memories of the old school go to Keith Memory Blog.

Life on Bomakelloch farm from 1930s to 1950s by Jean Mark

DavidstonFields above Bridge of Davidston. The white house on the right is a new one built beside the old Mill of Davidston. In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm, which is in the next square.

In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm

Jean grew up on Bomakelloch farm in Drummuir . Her parents Jane “Jeannie” and William Stewart, were tenants on the farm. her father was 50 when Jean was born in 1930. her mother was 40. She was the seventh in the family to arrive. Before her were four brothers, 2 older sisters and then after Jean a younger sister. There were two front bedrooms and one back bedroom, which Jean had to herself. In addition to this there was a back bedroom above the kitchen. This Porridge This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.was accessed through a back stair through the back door.  The men who worked on the farm stayed in this room. It was called a “chaumer”.  Her mother cooked for everyone on the farm. There was brose (oatmeal with added salt, pepper and boiling water). Porridge was made in a big pot with oatmeal and salt. Cream was sometimes added to the porridge. Dinner was 12 noon and her mother made soup (tattie, pea and broth). She started to help on the farm as soon as she could walk by hoeing turnips and picking tatties. She enjoyed helping with the lambing and sometimes the calving too.

Jean Marks Keith

Jean Marks from Keith

War years
Her eldest brothers were called up for the Second world war. William was in the RAF and Tommy was sent to South Africa with the Parachute Regiment. They could have stayed on the farm as it was a protected occupation but they wanted to be the same as their “mates”. The farm wasn’t really affected by rationing as they had access to milk to make cheese and eggs from hens (which they ate sometimes too!). The land was unsuitable to grow wheat so they bought that in.

Prisoners of War
The Sandyhillock & Knockando POW camp was near to her parents’ farm at Elchies. Each day a lorry would bring a group of men from the camp to work at the farm. The 4 or 5 mostly young single men enjoyed working at the farm. They brought pieces of bread with them along with ground coffee and Jean’s mother made them dinner with everyone else. Initially she had to be shown by one of the Italian POWs called Mario how to make coffee. Later on in the war Germans POWs also arrived at the camp. Towards the end of the war or just after her mother decided one day to take two of the POWs to the local cinema as a treat. As this sort of activity was not allowed for POWs she had to dress the two germans up in long black overcoats to hide the PW lettering on their trousers below their knees along with the PW written across the backs of their black tops. After the war Eric Penno, one of the German POWs stayed behind. Eventually he married Margaret, one of Jean’s sisters. He did return to Germany to see him family after war but returned to continue working at Bomakelloch. Another German POW called Hans Dobler wanted to stay on after the end of the war. Jean’s mother told him they were happy to have him but that he should first go back to see his family Germany. She was conscious of how she would feel if her son had been away as a POW during the war and he then chose not to come back to see his family afterwards. Hans did return to Germany to see his family but he chose to stay back in Germany and keep in touch by letter as he does to this day. Eric did go back to see his family but returned eventually marrying Margaret in 1951 at Botriphine Church.

Making Crowdie
Crowdie cheese is made by mixing milk with salt and rennet. After the cheese separates it is added to a cheese press. There was top to the cheese press which was pressed down to squeeze out the whey. After it was pressed it was called Crowdie. The cheese was about the size of a dinner plate and about 28 inches high. It was kept in the milk house situated at the back of the house. There were thick stone slate shelves. The cheese can be allowed to dry out further or be eaten straightaway. The soft crumbly textured cheese was lovely with oatcakes. Oatcakes were made at home. The milk was brought into the milking house still warm from the cows. It was poured into large wide shallow enamel bowls. Over the next day the cream rose to the top and it was skimmed off for butter. Butter was made in a glass jar with a screw top and a handle. The paddle inside Butter Pats Bedford Museum Description-Butter Pats Bedford Museum.JPG English: Butter pats, cream measures and butter stamps on display at Bedford Museum. Wikicommons licenceturned the cream to separate the butter out. It took longer if the cream was cool. The butter was left unsalted and kept stored as butter pats. Wooden butter pats shaped the butter with ridges. The ridges stopped the butter sticking to the butter pats. None of the butter was sold as it was used in the farm kitchen.  

The women in the farmhouse did all the baking. When she was young there was no oven in the kitchen. Instead there a huge open fire and a Blaeberry This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.“girdle” (griddle) to make scones, oatcakes and bannocks. During the summer months wild raspberries and blaeberries were collected to make jam. The farm also had blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes.  When sugar was on ration during and just after the second world war the family made a decision to stop having sugar in their drinks so there was sufficient sugar for jam. A 1lb jam jar was filled with sugar for one of the workman who would not give up sugar in his drinks. He used it to the last spoonful. Jean remembers the resentment as this particular person would then happily eat the jam that everyone else have sacrificed their sugar ration for.

Jean had two older sisters (who later married farmers) and one younger sister. Jean hated sewing and her younger sister enjoyed it. She had learnt dressmaking. Jean remembers at the age of 15 or 16 her sister taking over some particularly annoying sewing task. Jean warned her husband before she married him that she hated sewing and she would not be making him clothes. (At the interview she shared the thought that “SHE STILL HATES SEWING”). She bought her wedding dress while her younger sister made her own. She didn’t mind knitting.

Lambing Time
Lambing usually took place during the Easter Holidays when the lambs could benefit from the fresh grass. Each ewe usually had two lambs though occasionally there were triplet and single births. The ewe only has two teats to feed the lamb milk so the optimum birth was two. If there were more than two then the lambs were allowed to feed on the first milk (colostrum), which is very important as it is rich in nutrients and anti-bodies safeguarding against infection. One of the lambs is taken away and given to a ewe that has lost its lamb for some reason. If presented early after an unsuccessful birth a ewe will take on another lamb as its own. This common practice on the farm. If a ewe is struggling to feed its lamb than the lamb can be given to a more experienced ewe with plenty of milk. Jean has seen a ewe look after three of her own lambs if she has lots of milk.

The cows usually had one calf, sometimes two. The vet would need to be called to help out if there was a problem.

Little Pitlurg  - Geograph © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Little Pitlurg © Copyright Anne Burgess Creative Commons Licence

After her marriage to a local farmer in 1957 Jean and her husband built up a farming business initially at Little Pitlurg. In 1963 they acquired the tenancy of the farm at the Mains of Pitlurg from the Laird Gordon-Duff of Drummuir. In the 1970s Jean and her husband heard that the Estate was considering allowing the sale of some farm houses. They arranged for the factor to visit their farms and decide on a valuation. The Laird agreed to sell both properties and Jean and her husband became land owners for the first time. Her son runs Little Pitlurg now.

Memory contributed by Jean Mark from Keith

Additional Information

Jean’s dance troup activities

Jimmy Green worked for Jean’s parents and latterly her brother, William. He has shared his memory of working at Bomakelloch with this project earlier this year.

Butter Churns
A link to a web site devoted to antique dairy equipment including butter churnsHere is a website devoted to antique dairy equipment including butter churns.
There are many examples of butter churns on the internet.
You tube video of an antique butter churn in use making butter.

Wikipedia page about how to churn butter. There are many website which show us how to make butter.

Crowdie- more information about the cheese Crowdie

Prisoners of War
Imperial War museum- archive recordings- There are archive recordings of Eric Penno and his wife Margaret. Eric was captured in North Africa and brought to POW camp near Keith during world war 2. The Libindx database has a marriage record of 4th May 1951, Botriphine Church. The Banffshire Herald has an article about the marriage.

There are several website with recipes for girdles and photographs of them in use.

Working as a milk girl by Jessie Fountain

Jessie Fountain on the left of the pictureWhen Jessie left school at the age of 15 in 1939 she was willing to take any job she could get. She had done well as school at Forres Academy with an A in French and Latin.  She worked for a shop in Forres delivering milk on her bike. She joined the Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS). In 1942 she married a member of the RAF. They were married for fifty years. In 1944 she was expecting her daughter while her husband was stationed away in Iceland. When the Second World War started her husband had been living in Persia (Iran) working as an oil engineer for the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). He joined up with his brother and came to Bedford. They returned to Iran so that her husband could return to his previous work for AIOC. In 1948 they got an old house on one floor which had beds outside under nets. It took a while to get used to sleeping outside but it was more comfortable in the heat. Each night the servants took the beds outside for them. Later on they moved to a lovely new bungalow.   

When trouble came to Iran in 1951 Jessie and her family were part of an emergency evacuation. It was very sudden and very painful. She remembers the children crying as they their flight home.

Memory contributed by Jessie Fountain from Forres

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company agreement with the Iranian Government 1949

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company agreement with the Iranian Government 1949

Additional Information
Information about the Anglo-Persian (became Iranian in 1935) Oil Company and the National Iranian Oil Company. AIOC became British Petroleum in 1954.

The History of British Petroleum (BP) including its origins with AIOC.

Nora Frankish’s work as a clerk for Rushton Hornsby Engineering Works in Lincoln

Comptometer model ST Super Totalizer

Comptometer model ST Super Totalizer

Nora went to work when she turned 16 in 1938. She worked in the Comptometer Room. It was very noisy. She stayed there for a year before moving on to her next job as a clerk in the Social Services Department of Lincolnshire County Council. Her job was collating the number of children in school. The data picked up how well they were doing in school all over the county in lots of different schools. She met her husband there. He worked in the Royal Army Pay Corps@ Leicester didn’t pass for active service.

When the war started in 1939 she went to work for Hovis Flour mill (Albion Mill) from 1939 to 1941.She also worked for Avro Aviation which built plane parts. Women did some of the heavy engineering works. There were men still working there.

Another job was in a large office. It was a big one with lots of tables and it handled the post for the armed services. It dealt with the letters from soldiers or their wives. The post was collected in the office, sorted then sent on to where the man was posted. An officer was posted at each table for anything we couldn’t deal with. One of the officers was a “dopey” Lieutenant. Once they wrote a note for him which said…..

“You are a silly fool. You’ll sign anything that is put in front of you.”

He dully signed it and sent it up. He got in trouble for that.

Memory contributed by Nora Frankish from Aberlour

Additional Information
More information about the Hovis Flour Mill- Albion Mill in Lincoln. Interestingly there is an article cited talking about their memories of working at the mill by a W.M. Frankish. Perhaps a relation of Nora?

A Memory of the Royal Army Pay Corps in Leicester

Mary Grant’s first job as a domestic servant in Craigellachie at Muirton House in Speyside

Mary left school in 1940 and went to work as a domestic servant in Muirton House in Craigellachie. Her father, Peter McDonald was a tenant farmer at Lower Blairain, 3 mlies out of Aberlour. Lt. Colonel Findlay was a retired gentleman. He was an investor with the Scotsman newspaper. Mary was a kitchen maid. She wore a pale blue dress in the morning and a navy blue dress in the afternoon with a cap and an apron. She was given a nice bedroom. Her weekly wage was 10 /- including accommodation.  Her day began at 7 a.m. with breakfast then she made up the fires, pulled the curtains, dusted, vacuumed and cleaned the bathrooms. There were two housemaids at Muirton House, a cook, a gardener and a nanny (when the children were young).  There was also a table maid called Jane so Mary did not have to serve at table.

Her brother was Pat McDonald. He was well-known in the area for his poems, recitations and bothy ballards. There is a copy of an extensive interview with Andy Ross of MFR from the 1990s on this website.

Memory contributed by Mary Grant neé McDonald of Aberlour

Additional Information


Scotsman building designed and built by Dunn and Findlay Architects Practice

Lt. Colonel James Lesley Findlay– worked initially as an architect in Edinburgh, fought in the Great War and was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel. His architect firm (Dunn and Findlay) were involved in the building of the Scotsman Building. His Father was John Ritchie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman Newspaper and Philanthropist. His mother was Susan Leslie. James’ brother Sir John Ritchie Findlay took over the Scotsman as principal proprietor in 1898 on the death of his father. The family seat was Aberlour House in Aberlour, where James’ father died in 1898. James’ brother had bought the house from Margaret MacPherson Grant in 1885. It became a boarding school in 1947.

Armorial Familiesa directory of families Coat-Armour cites an association with 10 Eton terrace in Edinburgh. This is explained in Colonel Findlay’s registration in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects which discusses 10 Eton Terrace, Edinburgh. 10 Eton Terrace was initially his private residence from 1907 then his architect firm’s office as well from 1915-1919. Prior to that their previous house  14 Coates Gardens. It also adds information on Muirton House at Strathspey which he designed and built.

Biding in a chaumer while working as a farm labourer by Jimmy Green

Davidston Fields above Bridge of Davidston. The white house on the right is a new one built beside the old Mill of Davidston. In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm, which is in the next square.

Davidston Fields above Bridge of Davidston. The white house on the right is a new one built beside the old Mill of Davidston. In the distance is Bomakelloch Farm, which is in the next square. © Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

After the end of the Second World war many of the German POWs who had been interned in Moray POW camps decided to stay in Moray and not return to their homeland. Jimmy was recruited to work on the farms when the German farmworkers went back on family visits back to Germany. He started work in around 1948 when he turned 20. The farmer was called William Stewart and the farm was Bomakelloch Farm, Keith. During the week he lived on the farm in a room above the kitchen which was called a “chaumer“. Four people slept in the room. Two of the farmer’s sons, a german POW and Jimmy. It had a traditional small rectangular skylight with a single sheet of glass. There was separate stair up from the kitchen and the bedroom may have been an old maid’s room. There was also another old “chaumer” above the stable. There was a bath in the house but Jimmy went home to his parents’ house, Davidston House, a small farm 1/2 mile a way and had a bath there. He also took his washing for his mother to wash. Food was provided by the farm. Breakfast was usually porridge made with salt along with bread and butter. If you had brose you made that yourself. It is made in the bowl from oatmeal, hot water, salt and spice. For dinner there could be soup (broth, pea soup or tattie soup). Mince and tatties and on the same plate afterwards, a sweet such as semolina.The work days would vary with the season. In Spring the day would begin around 6 a.m. with breakfast at 6.30 p.m. By then the horse ploughs were being slowly replaced by tractors. The tractors were more efficient and quicker and it also meant that the farms could employ fewer men. The horses on this farm were very old. Jimmy did not work on his parents farm, Davidston House as he had four brothers and so he was not needed. He often went back to his parents house during the week to see them. He took his clothes home to be washed. He stayed on at this farm for the next eighteen years.

Jimmy’s work life continues as a mobile library van driver in Banffshire >>>>>>>>>>

Memory contributed by Jimmy Green in Keith

Additional Information

Keith Cricket Club- Jimmy has been involved with the club as player, umpire, coach and has even cut the grass on the wicket for the last sixty years. Here is a recent newspaper article from the Banffshire Herald. They have kindly given the project permission to publish it here- Jimmy Green’s  60 year involvement with Keith Cricket Club

More information about chaumers.
“The name depended on faur ye bade or fit size o a fairm ye were feed on. A chaumer wis a wee biggin or room, sometimes at the end o a steadin or next tae a wash hoose, or a room up abeen a stable or barn. A chaumer didna hae a fire, an the single lads wad hae been fed in the fairm kitchen bi the kitchie deem……..”  Follow the link above for an extensive description from the Elphinstone Institute at Aberdeen University.

More information on Davidston House, which has listed building status.

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.

Horse Ploughing
Click here to see a Horse ploughing film on Scottish Screen onlineWatch a 1955 film of horse ploughing 

The film shows everyday life and work of a Scottish ploughman, shot at Smeaton Farm, Dalkeith.
It was made in 1955 and lasts 11 minutes.

Angela Oatridge’s first job as a GPO telephonist

source: wikicommons Description Item 24092, City Light Photographic Negatives (Record Series 1204-01), Seattle Municipal Archives.

Telephone operators, 1952 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Angela started work in 1950. Her father had come home one day and said “It is about time you got a job”. She was still at school at this point and had dreams of joining the Womens’ Royal Naval Service (WRENS) or attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He would not allow her to do either of these. Having spoken to a friend who was a postmaster he got her a job as a GPO telephonist at the Taunton Post Office Exchange. She never thought to go against her father’s wishes. As part of the job she had to sign the Official Secrets Act. She was sent on a 10 week training course in Plymouth. She liked the responsibility. Angela also did relief at Highbridge Exchange as well. Highbridge was an old exchange as was Burnham-on-Sea where she also worked. She earned £3 a week and an allowance on top for board and lodging. The shifts were 8 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. or the less-popular split shift of 8 a.m.- 12 noon and then 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

An interesting example of what she did in her first job.

“Please may I have Directory Enquiries? 
“Yes, Of course”
Angela would wait a short time and then answer in a different voice
“Directory Enquiries, Can I help you?”
Reason: The exchange wasn’t large enough to pay someone to do Directory Enquires full-time so the telephonists did both jobs.

If anyone wanted to call another phone number they had to pick up their phone and wait. At the local telephone exchange a flap went down on the socket connected to their phone number (and also several other phone numbers). The telephone operator saw this happen and put one of her (or his) ten plugs in the socket and asked the phone customer “Number please?”. If it was a number was local to the exchange the operator could just connect the phone’s socket to the other line via a cable. At any one time there could be a maximum of 10 cords running. If the call request was for outside that exchange then there was a book listing the numbers to connect to exchanges all over the UK. If very rarely the person wanted an international number (very expensive call rates) then the International operator had to be called. Once called the person making the call was connected to the next exchange in the chain they spoke to the next operator to tell them which number they wanted and so on. A single call could go through several exchanges.

Ending a call
Once a call was over the first one red light and then the other red light came on for that socket. If one stayed on then the phone might be off the hook. If the phone was off the hook then a noise could be played down it so the owner knew to put the phone back on the cradle/ hook. By flipping a switch the telephonist could listen in to any call to check if the caller had finished. If there was silence they could ask if caller had finished and if OK unplug the socket to disconnect the call. The flap would then return to its default position and cover the socket. Occasionally the cat would knock the flaps down and you wouldn’t know who had called. Every socket had to be plugged into and checked to see if someone was there.

In the exchanges she worked in the men earned twice what the women worked which meant they earned four times the women’s regular rate for overtime work. The men also had a more laid back approach to their work and would rarely have more than three cords active at any one time.

One Saturday she was by herself and she had to deal with an emergency call related to a terrible road accident. She had to record everything the caller said to the police so there was a backup of the important information being shared.

In 1954 Angela got married and so had to leave her job as women traditionally left work when they married. Before the Second World War in many jobs/professions there was often a marriage bar which prevented women from choosing to stay on at work after they married. Angela did remember a married woman with children still working at an exchange but that was very much the exception.During the late 1950s while they lived in Blackpool and she was able to secure work as a telephonist on the 8 p.m. to midnight shift while her next door neighbour or mother baby sat. Her husband was posted to Christmas Island as part of the nuclear testing operation. They then moved to Upavon and the family bought a house in Corsham. They owned one car which her husband took to his job at RAF Lyneham. Angela learnt to drive so she too could eventually buy a car of her own.

In the 1968 they were on their way back from Australia via New Zealand and Fiji and they arrived in Tahiti. They rode an army van as a way of travelling around the island. Angela noticed as each person climbed off the bus at the end of their journey they kissed a large sarong-clad man. It was explained to them that this person was Gauguin’s son and it considered good luck to kiss him as you left.

Returning to Corsham in 1969 Angela started working as a driving instructor as her local female friends who often didn’t drive. When she asked them why they did not drive they said their husband or the driving instructor shouted at them when teaching them. Angela completed her advanced driver in Devizes and took the exam in Swindon. The exam took the form of an essay about how you would teach someone to drive. There was then a two hour driving test where you had to teach someone else to drive who had never been in a car before. The instructor spent his time fiddling with the car keys and other things. Angela just took the keys out of the ignition and told him “To relax”. She passed.

She decided to set up her own driving school and to do that she needed a suitable car. There was a dual control Vauxhall Viva for sale costing £300. Angela made an appointment with her Bank Manager taking the only collateral she had -£200 in premium bonds which had been bought for her children. The Manager laughed and said he would have a think about it. He decided that Angela could open a business account and lent her £1000.00. She bought her car and paid the money back within 6 months. So “The Ladies School of Driving” began. One day Pebble at One ( a lunchtime topical news programme) came to interview Angela about how she taught driving. They took lots of photographs through the windows of the car.

She has written three books on Driving Instruction focussing on how to pass your driving test and how to teach someone else to drive.

Angela Oatridge's driving test books

Driving books written by Angela

Memory contributed by Angela Oatridge from Burghead

Additional Information

The Story of Burghead– written by Angela and available online

The story of someone using a switchboard similar to the one which Angela describes.

The development of a post-war exchange in Newmarket with some interesting photographs of the exchanges that were in use during the 1950s.

Mary Marr’s work as an office worker for Scottish Legal and Life Assurance

Mary’s job was to look after the agents who brought in the insurance. At this time she lived 10 miles out of Aberdeen at Newmacher. She remembers seeing the effect of the WW2 planes on part of Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. There was a bomb near Duff House, Banff when German POWs were living there. She started working for Scottish Legal and Life Assurance, Aberdeen in 1947 at the age of 15. In those days the Insurance Man went around the houses to collect 1d a week or a monthly amount depending on the policies. They covered areas such as Industrial Accident/ Death. Endowments could mature after 10/15/20 years. Ordinary Branch premiums were paid quarterly or half yearly (see below). Insurance for the death of a child. a child could be covered for 1d. a week. The pay out sum was not large. Many people had large families and the infant mortality rate was very high. An Adult Life Insurance would pay for a funeral.

Newmacher Primary School © Copyright Bill Harrison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Newmacher Primary School

During the second world war when the evacuees came to the area she remembers having to attend Newmacher Primary School on a part-time basis due to lack of space in the classrooms.

Memory contributed by Mary Marr, Aberlour

Additional Information

Ordinary Branch
Refers to life policies which, when originally taken out, had premiums payable either in a lump sum, monthly by payment from a bank account, every three months, every six months or every year and to all pension policies.” source: Royal London Financial Sense website