Document 1375

The Annals of Arbuthnott Part One

Author(s): Isabella Williamson

Copyright holder(s): Isabella Williamson



The Parish of Arbuthnott

The parish of Arbuthnott is situated almost wholly to the north of the River Bervie. It extends from near the mouth of the river to where it meets, in the west, the parish of Fordoun, a distance of 5 miles. With projections in the north and south, the parish has a length of 6 miles. In the northwest, the Forthie water separates it from the parish of Glenbervie, and to the east lies Kinneff. On the south, Arbuthnott is bordered by the parish of Bervie and on the southwest by Garvock. Fordoun lies to the west. The parish covers an area of 9583 acres, nearly 15 square miles.

Arbuthnott Community Association Reminiscence Group

Arbuthnott Reminiscence Group began with a meeting at Millplough, Arbuthnott in 1991. Present were Mr Alex Middleton, Edzell; Mr Arch Middleton, Aberlemno; Mrs Molly Middleton, Inverbervie; Mrs Jean Stephen, Brechin; Mrs Madge Laing, Inverbervie; Miss Nellie Riddoch, Kilternan; Mr Arch Middleton, Millplough and Mrs Isabella Williamson, Kirkton. The main objective in meeting, apart from the beneficial nature of reminiscing, was the growing realisation that if we didn't begin recording people's experiences and memories of life in the parish over the last century, the information would be lost to us forever. This awareness was also linked to the building of the Grassic Gibbon Centre at that time, and the need to source photographs and information that could be useful in the Centre's exhibition.

More meetings were arranged, and on 10th June 1992, an open day was held to gauge further interest. Since then, the group has evolved into its present form: meeting monthly for lunch, and having a discussion afterwards. Occasionally speakers are invited and outings arranged. Meetings are very informal and anyone interested in the parish of Arbuthnott is welcome to come along.

Over the years, the group has been instrumental in raising money to republish the first Arbuthnott Reminiscence Book - originally printed in 1908 to raise funds to build the Parish Hall - and to construct disabled ramps at the Hall.

A successful application to the Help the Aged Millennium Fund has resulted in our now being able to publish the memories and photographs collected over the years. As with any such publication, compiled from the memories of others (some of whom are unfortunately no longer with us), we cannot be absolutely certain of the accuracy of the entire content. However, we have taken pains to ensure that the content is as precise as can be and that events have been placed in chronological order wherever possible. Further, we have endeavoured to source all owners of copyright material used and would be grateful to learn of any omissions, which will then be incorporated in all future editions. We would also be interested to hear from anyone who has any further information or photographs which they feel would be useful for our archive, or future publications.

The title of the publication 'The Annals of Arbuthnott' comes from a newspaper article printed in the Mearns Leader in 1915 - an extract of which can be found in the 'Newspaper Gleanings' section.

The bulk of the content covers the period between 1900 and 1960, with some exceptions where the interest in the subject dictated that a longer period of time required to be covered.

In order not to omit anything of particular interest, it has been necessary to publish the 'Annals of Arbuthnott' in two parts.


Compiling the 'Annals of Arbuthnott' has taken a huge effort from many individuals. It has been an incredible experience; tremendously enjoyable, humorous and at times heartbreakingly frustrating, but the end result we hope will bring enjoyment to many people today and for future generations. We would like to acknowledge the following people for their assistance with this publication:

[NOTE: List of names here in original]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Roy's map of the Mearns in 1750 showing enclosed land and runrig']

Chapter 1


Life in Arbuthnott has developed around agriculture for centuries; the earliest map available to us is dated 1750, which shows early runrig farming, based mainly beside sources of water and featuring early farm names still familiar today such as 'Mill Pluck', 'Allardie', 'Pittcarlo', 'Auld Petty', and 'Muckle Fidys'.

Farm Life -

Farm life until after the 2nd World War was generally fairly nomadic with farm workers regularly moving from one farm to another. Flitting took place at term times: 28th May, when most married men moved, and 28th November. At term time if the farmer did not 'speak' to you, you had no choice but to find a new employer. Once you had found a new fee your new employer sent a horse and cart for your belongings. At term time it was a common sight to see a large number of carts on the roads.

The following news item, which appeared in the Mearns Leader in May 1941 clearly illustrates the problems caused by this itinerant way of life.

[NOTE: Newpaper article here in original]

[NOTE: Photo: 'A family standing in front of a horse and cart, in the 1920s]

Married farm workers lived in a tied cottage and they received a quantity of oatmeal and milk as part of their pay. Some farmers supplied coal and tatties as well and workers' wives were allowed to keep a few hens. Generally men saw little of their families as they had an early start in the morning and a late finish at night. If the husband became unable to work through injury or death the family had to leave the cottage to make way for another worker. This would have been extremely traumatic as families, before the 1st World War, were generally quite large, with anything up to 10-12 children. Many then had no option but to move in with neighbours or other family members or as a last resort go into the poor house.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Typical family group in 1920s - Arch and Janet Middleton, Brakes of Barras.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mrs Riddoch, Parkneuk, feeding the hens.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'hen with chickens, Parkneuk.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'couple howking tatties in their garden, early 1930s.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Bothy Billies at Haremuir, Benholm in 1915, including William Middleton (killed in 1st World War) on far left and Arch Middleton Snr on the far right.]

Single men lived in the bothy but often had their main meal in the farmhouse, otherwise they lived on milk, brose, neeps and tatties.

Farms were rented from large estates (such as Arbuthnott Estate) until around the time of the 1st World War when, in the case of Arbuthnott Estate, farm units began to be sold to help pay death duties. There was, at times, a degree of resentment on behalf of tenant farmers against landlords because of the lack of security of their leases and restrictions on the use of the land placed on tenants. Tenancies were generally for 14 years with a break after 7 years to allow either side to opt out of the lease.

Crops were sown on a strict 5th or 6th shift rotation:

1 Grass for hay
2 Corn
3 Turnips
4 Corn or barley under sown with grass
5-7 Grass

[NOTE: Photo: 'Bothy Billies at Arbuthnott Home Farm in 1921.]

You were not allowed to sell surplus straw to supplement your income since all straw grown on the farm had to be reused on the same farm, which sometimes led to straw being unused and left to rot. Also, the use of nitrogen on the land to increase yields was banned. Any flouting of these rules would lead to your lease being rescinded. One farmer remembers an occasion when a neighbouring farm was advertised in the paper as being available for re-letting without the current tenant being notified that his lease was not to be renewed; the farmer had no option but to look for a new lease elsewhere.

[NOTE: Photo: View of Alpitty from Hillpark in 1910.]

The following articles from The Mearns Leader in 1915 are interesting in illustrating the issues of land management around that time.

[NOTE: Newspaper article: Kincardineshire Land Court Decision]

[NOTE: Newspaper article: Small Holdings in Kincardineshire]

[NOTE: Photo: 'View from Drumyocher, looking east in 1910.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'David Thomson ploughing pre 1917 at Three Wells Farm, Inverbervie.' ]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Bothy Billies at Pitcarles in the early 1930s.']

Farm life could seem harsh with everyone in the household having to rise early to carry out their chores. In 1923 Molly Cushnie had to get up at 5 a.m. and milk six cows by hand before going to school. Mr. Gray, the schoolmaster occasionally had to waken her in class and he would ask what time she got up that morning. Another remembers having to rise at 5 a.m. to clean and blacken the big farmhouse range and light the fire. She then made porridge with oatmeal, sprinkling raw oatmeal over the porridge once it was on the plates and then placing it on the cold stone floor to cool for the horsemen who came in from the stables. Someone else remembers milking a cow at the age of seven and a half after first making the porridge.

[NOTE: Photo: '"Piecie time": Alex Jeans, Drumyocher.']

Although everyone had to work hard the general feeling is that people were more neighbourly and community minded than today. A break or 'piece time' during work was introduced during the 2nd World War to allow the working day to continue as long as possible. Workers applied for extra rations for their piece and there was a forenoon and afternoon piece at threshing time.

Farm servants were paid every six months. Domestics were paid monthly and also received supplies; at Arbuthnott House, Lady Arbuthnott also gave all her workers a Christmas tree. Once workers received their pay it soon disappeared because it went on account; the shopkeeper or van would have given them credit against the expectation of their pay. This ensured that they continued to shop with them as they used their pay to clear the last debts and needed more credit until the next payday.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jim Adams repairing the binder while Will Adams has his piecie. Montgoldrum around 1939.']

Most unmarried women worked 'in service' as maids and it was common practice for them also to move from place to place. Their work included cleaning the fire and blackening the grate. The flues had to be cleaned out once a week before lighting the fire and boiling up water for breakfast. If someone was in service on a farm they often had to milk the cows in the morning and in the evening polish the farm workers' boots with dubbin as well as do the washing, sterilise the dairy utensils, feed the hens and collect the eggs. Another chore was cleaning out the bothy. The hours were long and hard for very little pay, with only a half-day off work each week. If they wanted to go out at night, maybe to a dance, they had to ask the mistress's permission. It has been known for the maid to come home at 3 a.m., have her breakfast and then start her daily chores.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Taking a break from coleing hay.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A maid in 1927']

After the Second World War small farms and crofts began to disappear, as farming became mechanised and larger units more financially viable.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Women at work at Oldcake in 1938.]

How to Get a Job

For men to gain employment as a farm servant, they would go to the feein' market which was held once a year in March. The farmers would negotiate with the potential employees and if a deal was struck, the farmer would give the farm servant a shilling to seal the bargain. This was called the 'arles'. If a married man moved to work for a new farmer, he was given time in April to put his garden in before starting work in May. For single farm workers there were two or three feein' markets - always on market days.

As a young boy, when John Watson's family flitted to the Wairds from Mosshead he thought they had just gone for a holiday and at the end of the week he wanted to take his pony and dog and go back home again!

Women in service would be asked by their employer twice a year if they were staying on to work. Word of mouth was the common way for women to find work, but at one time there was also a registrar in the china shop in Montrose called Miss Findlater who could help find you a job. Married women, as well as looking after the children and home, could help at the threshing mill, lowsing the ties on the sheaves, and also pick tatties in the autumn.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mr Barclay Watson, Mosshead in the early 1920s']


It is quoted in the Stonehaven journal that in 1900 the agricultural wage per annum for Ploughmen was £47

Cattlemen £50-10/-.

By December 1918 the wage had almost doubled, as the rate for 6 months was:

First horsemen £42

Second Horsemen £40 - £42

Youths £35 according to age and experience

However during the next twenty years there was little change, as by 1938 the wage for 6 months had only increased to:

First horseman £47

Second Horseman £42

Halflins (young lads) £32


Until the 1940s horses were in general use on farms in Arbuthnott. Normally farmers kept an odd number - the pairs being used for jobs such as ploughing and bindering, leaving a single horse to be used by the orraman for carting turnips, driving sheaves and other odd jobs about the farm.

Men working with horses finished at midday on a Saturday and they took turns to do the Saturday night and Sunday feeds. Horsemen had a pecking order with the senior horseman's pair given first chance to drink at the trough and so on.

If you were showing your horse, at an agricultural show, feeing market or such like, the horses' feet were sometimes washed in Persil to make the feathers - hair around the hooves - nice and white. Harnesses were polished by putting them in a sack and moving it from end to end. Horses in full show harness with their ribbons and tassels were a magnificent sight and prizes were given for appearance at ploughing matches as well as for the best ploughing and feering. Sometimes there was also a prize for the horseman with the largest family!

[NOTE: Photo: 'Will Adam, Montgoldrum in 1933.' ]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Three pairs of horses with (left to right): Bert McLean; Mathew Harper; Barclay Watson; Jock the dog. Montgoldrum cottage in the early 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'David Beattie with a pair of horses']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Madge Greig at Fettercairn Show in the 1930s']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Clyde, a prize winning horse.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Six pair of horses at Pitcarry Farm in 1925']

[NOTE: Photo: '2½ pair of horses at Old Cake in the late 1930s. The oldest and youngest horses in the picture died from grass sickness in the same year. Alex Jeans and John Morrison are holding the horses.']

[NOTE: Photo: '4½ pair of horses at Home Farm in 1925.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A young Andy Eccles at Pitcarles in 1950.']

In 1918 there were 4,861 horses in Kincardineshire and in 1920, Pitcarry, which was the largest farm in Kincardineshire at that time, had 16 working men and 6½ pairs of horses.

A major problem, which affected only horses, was grass sickness. They took ill very quickly and sometimes died within two days. There was a bad outbreak in the mid thirties; Alex Jeans at Oldcake lost his oldest and youngest horse in the same year which was a considerable financial loss. The cause of grass sickness and a cure for it is still unknown.

Horses were phased out at the Home Farm about 1939/40. A shortage of horses coupled with the number of farm workers called up to fight in the 2nd World War speeded up the introduction of tractors. Willie Eccles, Pitcarles, continued to use horses until 1956 and was the last farmer in Arbuthnott to do so.


[NOTE: Photo: 'Calves at Alpitty in 1910.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Cattle in the 1950s.]

Cattle and sheep were extremely important on farms. To buy or sell stock you went to the mart in Laurencekirk every Monday and occasionally to the marts at Fordoun and Drumlithie at certain times of the year. In the early days cattle had to be herded by foot to the mart, usually on the previous day. Farmers would occasionally join together to herd their stock: either amalgamating all the animals, which were already clearly marked for identification, or walking 100 yards or so ahead of one another. Traffic was not a problem and everything was taken at a much more leisurely pace than today. It is remembered that Mr. Anderson from Kair (grandfather of the present Mr. George Anderson) would walk with each farmer along the stretch of road past his farm just to have a chat and discuss the issues of the day; he would be seen walking back and fore the road all day with different farmers. Farmers were also known to take a sample of corn in their pocket to the mart in order to find a buyer for their grain.

Around the l920s if a farmer went to the mart in his gig, the horse was stabled beside where the Royal Hotel is today. Later, up to the 2nd World War a bus ran through Arbuthnott every Monday to take farmers to the mart; it left between 9-10 o'clock in the morning and came back around 3 o'clock. Some farmers were known to need some assistance to get off the bus on its return journey!

[NOTE: Photo: 'Dipping sheep at Arbuthnott Estate in 1970.']

Cattle would be extremely tired by the time they had walked the long distance, and when the butcher in Bervie purchased them they had to walk back through Arbuthnott the next day again. Sometimes they became so tired they just sat down at the side of the road and would not move. It is remembered that on one occasion when this happened just outside Laurencekirk, a lady from a cottage nearby came to the farmer's assistance with a bucket of water, but instead of offering the cow a drink, as you might expect, she threw the water into the cow's ear; the cow instantly jumped up and began walking again - obviously a remedy she had witnessed other farmers using.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Ploughing with a pair of horses.' ]

Arch Middleton remembers when he was a youngster that he and George Blease were asked by the farmer at Townhead to take a herd of large Irish cattle from Laurencekirk back to Townhead. They were employed picking tatties at the time and this appeared to be an easier option so they agreed. However, the cattle were not very obliging and it seemed as if every field gate on the road was open. By the time they got them back to Townhead they were so exhausted from chasing them that they were wishing that they had stuck to their original job of picking tatties!

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arch Middleton senior, Millplough, away to sow turnips in the 1930s.']


Oats was the main arable crop up to around 1939 including black oats, which were grown mainly for horse feed. During and after the 2nd World War, lime was applied to the ground, allowing barley to be grown. Bruised barley was fed to cattle. Since the 2nd World War wheat has also been grown; before then only five or six acres were grown for the straw, to thatch stacks and tattie pits.

Turnips were grown for sheep and cattle feed. They were gathered from the field as required and the balance lifted in November before the hard frosts.

Beans were another crop; they had to be rogued leaving only the plants with the purple flowers.

Before 1939 some farmers grew tares, which looked like peas and beans, for cattle feed. Tares had to be cut when green. A mixture of tares and oats called mashley was also grown and fed to the house cows. Flax was also grown.

[NOTE: Photo: ''The loon' sowing neeps in the stane field, Millplough.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A squad of men hoeing neeps.]


Before farm mechanisation, seed was sown by hand. The person sowing the seed had a bag or basket called a 'happer' strapped to him and, keeping up an even rhythm, he threw a handful of seeds first to one side and then the other. A good sower could make a very even job of sowing a field. In order for him to keep his happer full, and not to break his stride or rhythm, full sacks of seed were spaced out down the field and a 'runner' - often his wife - filled a pail from the sacks to top up the happer.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Ploughing with a pair of horse.' ]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex Dallas, Upper Craighill, with a horse-drawn binder in the 1930s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jim and Will Adams, Montgoldrum, along with aunts Mary-Ann, Bella and Maggie Adams scything corn in the late 1920s.']


Prior to the 1960s and the advent of combine harvesters, cereal crops were generally cut by a binder. The sheaves left by the binder were then stooked. This was done by collecting the sheaves into a group and standing them in two rows leaning on their opposite number - there were normally eight sheaves in a stook. Stooking allowed the air to circulate through the sheaves in order to dry and ripen the crop. The stooks then stood in the field facing the direction of the prevailing wind until they were lead (taken by cart) to the stack yard for stacking.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Field of corn stooks at Alpitty in the 1950s']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Doreen and Sandy Jeans enjoy a rest amongst the stooks of Drumyocher in the 1930s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex Jeans harvesting oats at Drumyocher in the 1930s.']

Most farms took a great pride in the standard of their stacking and the worker building the stack had to keep it in a tidy round shape. It was the job of the man on the cart to throw the sheaves up onto the stack by using a pitchfork.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Cartload of corn sheaves at Montgoldrum in the 1950s. Lewis Adam is standing on top.']

When the stack was low, it was not too difficult but when the stack rose above head height it was very hard work and it became necessary for a middleman, called a pyot, to help. He stood on a ladder and, using a short fork, passed the sheaf from the forker to the builder. The top of the stacks was thatched with wheat straw, and sometimes a wee toorie for decoration finished them off. Stookie Sunday was the Sunday in the middle of harvest, when most of the crops had been cut and stooked, but leading had not started.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rows of stacks at Allardyce in the 1920s: 'sic a rucks, sic a siller.'']

In November 1924 Mr. Webster from the Kirkton broke his neck and died when he lost his balance and fell from the top of a cartload of sheaves because the horse moved forward without warning. On another occasion a dog was found alive after being buried in a stack for three weeks.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Stacking sheaves of oats at Alpitty in 1959. Sam Stephen is on top of the stack at the left hand side; Sheila, Andrew, Mary and Mike Williamson are on the bogie, with John and Duncan Reid at the right hand side. The tractor is a Nuffield.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Stacking hay at Alpitty in 1959 using a hay elevator. John Reid is on top; Dod Cheyne standing below.']

[NOTE: Photo: '(above) Dod Cheyne driving a grey Fergie with a Vicon Acrobat, turning hay at Alpitty in 1959.']

[NOTE: Photo: '(below) Dod Cheyne on a power driven binder; Gordon Reid is driving the Nuffield tractor.']

[NOTE: Photo: Newspaper article: 'Obituary of Mr John Barclay, who travelled round Arbuthnott with his steam driven threshing mill.]

A steam driven threshing mill was used to separate the grain head from the straw. The mill visited each farm in turn and neighbouring farmers helped one another or sent one of their men. The pay was 18 shillings a week, but by the 1940s this was considered to be a very poor rate. One of the most important people on threshing day was the 'lowser': the person, often a woman, who cut the binder twine around the sheaves with a knife secured to a leather pad worn like a glove. Mice and rats were usually to be found in the stack, so to stop any running up their trouser legs, workers tied binder twine around their trousers just below the knee. The sheaves had to be fed, grain end first, evenly into the mill to keep the drum speed regular. The mound of straw left after threshing was called a 'soo'.

Most farms had their own small threshing mill that was used to keep up the straw supply for cattle bedding. These were often steam driven or sometimes diesel engine driven. Combine harvesters began to appear in the 1940s - imported from America and Canada prior to the development of a factory at Kilmarnock, which made Massey-Harris combines.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Steam engine used for pulling threshing mill and bothy pre 1940.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A horse drawn threshing mill.']

[NOTE: Photo: '1945 and an early combine harvester at the Home Farm.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Cart load of hay in the 1920s.']


Grass was cut and left to dry in the field to make hay. It was turned with a fork before being placed in heaps by a horse drawn tummlin tam. Once the hay was dry, it was put into coles with a pitchfork, then into larger coles round a wooden three-legged frame called a boss. These were called 'tramp coles' because, as they were built, someone walked round and round tramping the hay. Eventually the hay was lead into the stackyard and stacked. This was the most difficult crop to secure in good condition.

Vegetables, flowers and soft fruit, mainly strawberries, have only been grown extensively in Arbuthnott from the mid 1970s.

Around the 1920s and 30s, bone meal was the source of phosphate. Nitrogen came from guano imported from Chile.

[NOTE: Photo: 'A haystack at Montgoldrum with Will Adams on top. A horse rake is in front.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Planting tatties at Alpitty in 1963 with a Massey Fergie Bell planter and Massey Fergie tractor. Sam and Nora Stephen are on the back with Dod Cheyne driving. ]


In the 1940s and 50s children were given three weeks holidays from school in October at potato harvesting time. Most of the country children went tattie pickin'. Although hard work, they found it great fun, especially as they were earning some money which was used to help their parents with household expenses, or went towards buying new winter clothes which they were allowed to help choose. Earlier, before the 1st World War, children were kept from school to help with the tattie harvest: it is recorded in the Arbuthnott School Log for October 15th 1915 "attendance declining owing to potato lifting" and again on November 1 st "school re-opened today (after potato holidays 19th-31st October) but attendance far from satisfactory. Owing to bad weather potatoes not yet all lifted".

And, in 1916 on July 14th in the Mearns Leader, the following notice appeared:

School Board -
At a meeting of the Arbuthnott School Board held on Thursday of last week - Mr. Robert Eddie, chairman presiding - it was agreed to grant the month of August as summer holidays, and to give a month later on to enable the children to help with the harvest and the potato-lifting.

As the population in Arbuthnott reduced, children from Bervie, Laurencekirk, Fordoun and Stonehaven were employed to pick tatties. At least one farmer organised a busload of pupils from Mackie Academy to come for about a fortnight every October. A squad of around 30-40 children was not unusual. At some farms the farmer's wife provided a mid-day meal, usually soup and a bun or mince pie. Children brought their own piece for morning and afternoon breaks. Piece bags often went home full of tatties but the farmer didn't mind too much!

The section you had to gather was called a 'bit'. The farmer measured the length of the bits by counting his strides as he walked down the length of the dreel, and dividing the total by the number of pickers he had in his squad. A bit of broom or stick was used to mark off each bit as he strode back up the field again - for some reason your bit always looked bigger than your neighbours! If you were quite young and inexperienced you were given a half bit, which only earned you half pay of course.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Casual workers at Drumyocher, left to right, Rosemary Fraser; Elma Mennie; Alex Jeans and Noreen MacLennan.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Noreen MacLennan; Rosemary Fraser and Elma Mennie at Drumyocher.]

A tattie digger dug up the tatties - either a double or single dreel at a time - and as it passed your bit, you quickly picked the tatties from the ground into a wire mesh basket called a scull, before the digger came round again. The best thing about tattie picking was when the digger broke down and you got a rest until it was fixed.

The worst part was called harrowing; this happened after all the dreels were dug up, in order to collect any tatties previously missed. The harrows had short prongs which when pulled through the field caught up the tattie shaws. This exposed any missed tatties that had to be collected. You shared a scull with a friend, taking one handle each and gathering the missed tatties with your free hand. Often they were little ones called chats that had fallen through a scull before - and did the same again.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rosemary Fraser on the horse at Drumyocher.']

If the shaws were really dry and you could persuade an adult to give you a match, you could light a fire into which you put a tattie stuck on a stick. The tatties were always black on the outside, raw in the middle and often the stick burnt and your tattie fell off.

[NOTE: Photo: 'The crowd with the horse, Drumyocher.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Pair of horses with harrows.]

When the tatties were lifted from the field they were stored in tattie pits. They were then left for a month to let the tatties come to themselves by allowing the skins to harden before being handled. Sizing and removing damaged and rotten tatties - called 'dressing' - could take place any time after a month but normally they were left until the spring. Tattie pits were a common sight at the edge of a field up to the early 1960s. To build a pit a long rectangle was dug out to a depth of six inches and the soil heaped at the side. The tatties were piled on the ground in a long mound that tapered in towards the top, straw was used to cover them and then a final layer of soil was spread over the straw to stop any frost penetrating. When the soil and straw were removed to use or dress the tatties this was called 'tirring'. Later farmers stored tatties loose in sheds, but this resulted in extensive damage. Latterly large wooden tattie boxes holding one ton were introduced to cut down handling and aid mechanisation.

After 1945 many more tatties were grown; Majestic and Arran Pilot for seed for the English market, and Kerrs Pink and Golden Wonder for home consumption.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Milking at Pitcarles, 1972.']


Most farms kept a cow for milk. The first milk after calving, colostrum, was regarded by some as a great delicacy. Cinnamon and sugar were sometimes added and it was left in a warm oven until it thickened, allowed to cool and served cut into slices. After it was cooked it was commonly known as 'beastie cheese'. The younger the cow the better the cheese!

[NOTE: Photo: 'Andy Eccles milking at Pitcarles in 1972.']

After milking the cows by hand, the milk was sieved into large pottery basins. It was left until the cream settled on the top, and then the cream was skimmed off, either by hand or by using a separator; the milk came out of one side and the cream came out of the other. The separator was made up of over twenty pieces and was a nuisance to wash and put together again. A white enamel bowl with a blue rim and a special spoon were used for hand skimming. The cream was then churned into butter. Butter churns would be either end-over or with flights inside them.

[NOTE: Photo: 'North of Scotland Milk Recorder in the 1940s.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'William Wisely & Sons Ltd collecting the milk at Pitcarles in the early 1950s. Jessie Eccles and dog are in the centre of the photo.']

[NOTE: Photo: Advertisement by Kincardineshire Agricultural Society, Ltd.']

Some farms had a cheese press outside. Farm-made butter was bought by the vans or exchanged for some groceries.

Later the number of gallons of milk produced on a farm were recorded by the North of Scotland Milk Recorder. The milk recorder would arrive at the farm in time to record the evening milking, stay overnight and record the morning milking as well, before moving on to the next farm.

At one time Mrs Strachan from Craighill collected the farmers' milk from the road ends and took it to Fordoun station for Lockerbie Dairies.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and Mouth is a very contagious disease affecting pigs and cattle. When an outbreak occurs, stringent quarantine regulations are brought into force and all movement of livestock is prohibited. During the 1959/60 outbreak, disinfectant baths were put at all road ends to an infected farm. If one beast was found with the disease, all the livestock had to be slaughtered, carcasses had to be buried in a pit and covered with lime. An outbreak can often ruin a farmer. Upper Craighill was the only farm in Arbuthnott affected during the 1959/60 outbreak.


After the 2nd World War there was a great shortage of men and horses to work the land. The existing tractors were big and powerful, but inefficient at trailing or pulling implements. The Fordson was smaller and more versatile but quite slow and cumbersome. The appearance of the grey Ferguson, which looked quite small, amazed farmers by its versatility and manoeuvrability. The 3-point linkage, by which the implements were attached, transferred the weight to the rear wheels to give a better grip and it worked extremely well with its own implements. Harry Ferguson eventually developed no fewer than 65 implements to fit this endearing little tractor.

From 1947-1960 almost every farm had at least one wee grey Fergie. In 1947, the local agent was based at Fordoun and is reputed to have sold 100 tractors in three months from the delivery of the first one to Fordoun Station.

A typical sale to a farm in Arbuthnott was a petrol/paraffin tractor, a two-furrow plough, a cultivator and a ridger for potatoes - all for £400.

[NOTE: Photo: 'A Fordson tractor after the second world war - the mudguards were cut short after the war. Pitcarles.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Reekie's delivering three grey Fergies to Drumyocher in December 1955. Left to right: Reekie service van; Alistair Aitken; Sandy Tough (grieve) and Jock Carnie.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Shooting party on Arbuthnott Estate in 1896.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A shooting party at Herculeshaugh in 1910: George Johnston's father and two uncles; Alex Cobb; Cy Black; William Allison the keeper and Ingles the under keeper.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'George Johnston as a child with his two uncles and mother outside Drumyocher farmhouse in 1910.']


Shooting and snaring were an integral part of farm life, used to provide food for the table, control vermin and on estates and larger farms as a sporting activity. The game-keeper held an important and valued position on estates. In 1924 Jack Arbuthnott showed his disappointment at the loss of William Allison, who had been the estate gamekeeper for more than thirty years, when on leaving the post he wrote to him in a goodbye letter:

"1 will always remember the many days of friendship we have had together" .

Later, William Allison's son James followed in his father's footsteps by becoming keeper on Arbuthnott estate.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jack Arbuthnott and William Allison the gamekeeper before 1924.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A letter from Jack Arbuthnott to Allison, the estate gamekeeper, in 1924.']


Tattie graip - a fork with little balls on the end of the prongs, so as not to damage the tatties.

Thraw cruik - was used to make straw ropes, by twisting lengths of straw together, for tieing down stacks

Tapner - a very sharp curved knife for shawing turnips.

Hoe - a long handled implement used to single turnips, or weed potatoes.

Tummlin' tam - a wooden pronged hay gatherer, that turned over when depositing its load.

Puddock - a flat, wooden (usually triangular shaped) platform shaped like a frog, used to transport heavy loads of hay.

Bone-Davy - a fertiliser spreader that shook the fertiliser onto the ground from a long narrow box.

Fiddle - a hand machine for sowing grain or grass seed. It was worked by drawing a rod over an opening in the seed container with a similar motion to a violin bow.

Stone Roller - made from granite and used to flatten land after seed was sown.

Grass Seed Barrow - was pulled behind the horse. Smaller versions were available which the farmer or his wife pushed.

[NOTE: Table of market prices]

Values in 1901 at a Farm Roup
Broadcast sowing machine £2-12-6
Horserake 10/-
Rollers 15/-
Binder £19-9/-
Reaping Machine £3
Dogcart £4-1 5/-
Stirks £10
Cows £6-5/- to £10-5/-
Brown Mare £26-10/-
Black Mare £23

[NOTE: Photo: 'An advert for the Laurencekirk Auction Mart.']

The following notices appeared in The Mearns Leader.

[NOTE: Newspaper notices]

[NOTE: Newspaper notices]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Home farm steading around 1952. Tractorman Davie Smith is driving a Nuffield, with Stan Greig at the back. This building now houses the estate office.']

[NOTE: Newspaper notices]

Combined Seed Sizing and Ceresan Mixing Machine

In 1934 Alex Jeans, Oldcake, entered his invention, a combined seed sizing and mixing machine, into a competition at an agricultural show in Glasgow. In a post-card to his wife from Glasgow, Mr Jeans tells her that he had been waiting from 1 o'clock until 6 o'clock and his entry had still not been judged.

Although he did not win a prize at the show, he did patent his invention, and sold a number of machines.

[NOTE: Photo: '1934 hand bill for Alex Jean's invention, a seed sizing machine.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex Jeans standing beside his invention in 1934.']

Arbuthnott Beef Producers

In 1971 three farmers within Arbuthnott parish took advice and decided to start a beef production cooperative. The farmers were George Barclay with Townhead Farm, Noel Williamson with Alpitty and Kirkton, and Lord Arbuthnott with Arbuthnott Home Farm. They had consulted David Bisset, agricultural adviser with NOSCA, and A.B.P (Arbuthnott Beef Producers) was born.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Beef Producers, 1970. Left to right: George Barclay; Noel Williamson and John Arbuthnott outside the A.B.P. office at Parkneuk.']

The main activity of the cooperative was the production of beef. Each farm put into the pool all their cattle-raising capacity, including all their grass for grazing or conservation (as silage and hay), and all their buildings that were capable of housing cattle of all ages. The Home Farm held the bulk of the rearing herd which rose to 450 cows, and consequently all their progeny. When weaned, the young cattle began to be dispersed to the other farms, where they were finished prior to sale.

Since all means of cattle production were cooperatively owned, there was a central banking facility and administrative centre, which was run in the Arbuthnott farm and estate office. The accounting was complicated, as it was necessary to keep track of all cattle stock, keep weekly counts of where they were and on whose grass they were grazing or in which steadings they were housed. Each farmer was paid for the grazing and steading accommodation, at an agreed figure per head.

Regular meetings of cooperating partners were held, and discussions and conclusions minuted. However since all farms were adjacent to each other, a great deal of informal discussion took place as well. The enterprise ran forward successfully, but when the younger generation were itching to get their say in farm management, they were given the opportunity to meet with David Bisset, and discuss the advantages or disadvantages of continuing A.B.P. Not surprisingly, the decision was taken to terminate the venture and, in 1982, the complicated task of unravelling the scheme took place. Thereafter, the cooperating farms reverted to individual units, as they are today.

It had been a bold experiment. It was one of the very few stock production cooperatives in the country, and all participants learned a lot about each other, and the other farms. It brought together the key stockmen and the other members of the farm working community in the parish into close association. Hopefully most people benefited in some way or other from a rare and enterprising experiment.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Drumyocher farmhouse - 1910.']

Chapter 2


In the early part of the century the majority of people in the area lived in either a tied cottar house if a farm worker; or farmhouse if a tenant farmer. You did not pay rent for your tied cottar house as it was included as part of a worker's pay.

A typical farmhouse contained a kitchen or scullery/living room and one bedroom on the ground floor along with a milk house. Upstairs were loft bedrooms, which had skylight windows. There was no inside running water and therefore no inside toilet. Instead you had a dry toilet outside, and squares of cut up newspapers or magazines. Often the 'Peoples Friend', threaded on a string, was used for toilet paper. All water had to be carried indoors after being pumped from a well outside.

In the milk house butter and cheese were made. A churn was used for the butter and there was always a cement shelf to keep it cool, but sometimes you had to take it down to a burn and sit it in the water to chill it.

Farm workers regularly moved from one farm to another. If you were lucky your new house had a kitchen and two bedrooms, and was clean. If not, the women had to scrub out the house before they could move in.

[NOTE: Photo: 'David and Isabella Murray with two of their eight children, Thomas and Elizabeth - Parkside, 1910.']


All cooking and heating was done on a range. Although fireplaces varied from house to house, most had a standard range with a varying number of ovens. Later versions had a boiler with a flue going round it to heat water. Usually they had to be black leaded at least once a week and the steel parts cleaned with emery paper. A brand name for black lead was Zebo. A top bar came down to set a pot on and sometimes there was a sway above the fire to hang a pan or a kettle on. The kettle (which was kept permanently full and just off the boil) sat on the side to provide hot water. Later you could buy a paraffin double burner cooker with a detachable oven that went on top, but this was quite expensive and most of the cooking was still done on the fire.


Washing was accomplished by using a washtub, a washing board and hard soap. It was hard on the hands and a moment's inattention could leave you with skinned knuckles. If clothes needed to be bleached they would be laid out soaking wet on the grass in the sun and re-wetted during the day if needed. Sometimes there was an outside boiler for hot water otherwise you used the fire. Clothes were not washed as often as they are today.

Ironing was mainly done with flat irons heated at the fire. Some had a bolt that was heated and then put inside the iron. You had to be careful that you did not make the iron too hot and it was a disaster if you got soot on it. Often you worked two irons; one in your hand and the other one heating at the fire. There was a wide variety of weights and sizes of irons. Gas irons were available in some places in the earlier part of the century.

Floor Coverings

Kitchen floors were normally concrete or slabs - very uneven. Linoleum was the usual floor covering although it was not fitted as it would be today. Rag rugs gave a bit of warmth under foot. Some stone-floors were just kept scrubbed and pipe clay placed around the edge. The men also made rugs with rabbit skins, which were cleaned and stretched and then stitched together. Doormats were made with binder twine or spartie rope.


Cottar houses contained just a few basic pieces of furniture. In the kitchen/living room there would be a dresser, chairs and table and a meal girnal. A fender and footstool covered with an old bit of carpet sat round the fire. There was usually a nursing chair with short legs beside the fire and a lazy chair made with horsehair. Often there was also a built-in box bed.

If you lived in a croft or larger farmhouse you may also have had a parlour. The mantelpiece would have had a brass edge round it or a deep velvet pelmet. There would be a shelf round the room about frieze height where the good china was placed. You would usually find a picture of two horses, a pair of 'wally dugs' and a mirror over the fireplace. An over mantel with shelves was used for bric a brac.

In the bedroom, apart from a bed, a chair and a kist, you might also have a wardrobe, but often for hanging your clothes there was just some pegs on the back of the door or on the wall, with a curtain round them. There would be a washstand with a basin, ewer, soap dish and a chamber pot. Later you would also have had a small dressing table and in some bedrooms a small fireplace.

[NOTE: Photo: 'An unknown boy standing on a low chair - 1927.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alpitty farmhouse in 1912.']

Furniture was made with ash or pine; often homemade and usually fairly plain. As people had very little of value, unlike today, you did not need to lock your door when away from home.


Chaff beds were made from stuffing big covers with chaff - pronounced kaff - folk would say you slept on a kaff and put your feet on a pig - a stone hot water bottle. Chaff beds were refilled every hairst. They started out high and gradually packed down as the year went on. If you did not stuff them well enough they were uncomfortable especially if they contained pieces of thistle! Feather beds were made by filling the covers with feathers but you had to be careful that there were no fleas in the feathers.


A double bed had a long pillow that went across the top called a bolster, on top of which you placed your pillow. Patchwork quilts were popular as they were made with any bits of old garments and scraps from making clothes, and then padded with an old blanket. Homemade woollen knitted blankets were also used and were economic to make. If there was a bed in the living room, as was often the case, a white bedspread with a crocheted edge was thrown over it. Flour bags would be bleached and used for pillowcases or skirts - you did not need coupons for them during the 2nd World War.

Furniture Prices in 1938
Kitchen dresser 21/- to 30/-
Kitchen table 5/- to 15/-
Chest of drawers 15/- to 30/-
Chairs 1/6 upwards
Bedsteads 25/-
Bedroom suite £10-19-6.
(including wardrobe, dressing table, chest of drawers, and bedstead)
Sideboard, table & chairs £7-17-6.

[NOTE: Photo: 'An advert for furniture, taken from the original Arbuthnott Book in 1908.']


Electric lighting only came to Arbuthnott in 1954. Before that, for a long time paraffin oil lamps were the main source of artificial light unless, like Arbuthnott House, you had a generator to make electricity. Paraffin lamps had glass globes above a container of paraffin that fed a wick. The wicks had to be trimmed daily and the glass chimneys kept clean. They could be very decorative items but draughts were apt to make them smoke. Tilley lamps were considered to be better but the mantle, made of fine gauze, was very fragile. As these were pressure lamps they had to be pumped at regular intervals or the light went dim. To light the lamp the mantle was warmed up with methylated spirits and then you pumped in air. Some lamps had a reflector behind them to shine the light out into the room; these were made to hang on the wall. Storm or hurricane lamps were used in the byre and for going outside as the flame was enclosed in the globe and was not supposed to blow out. Aladdin and killy lamps were small bedside lamps, shaped to make them more stable. Even though there was artificial light, people tended to go to bed early and rise early. Paraffin was bought at the grocers, often in a two-gallon tin with a square handle on the top.

The jute mills in Auchenblae and Inverbervie had gas lighting in 1856 and the workers also had gas in their houses. However when the mills later closed gas was no longer made available to the houses, and those living in them had to revert back to oil.


Although candles were a fire hazard they were often used in bedrooms. Fancy candlesticks can still be seen but often it was an enamel "Wee Willy Winkie" type that was used. These were saucer shaped and had a holder for the candle in the middle, with a little round handle on the rim.

Kitchen Items

Wooden kitchen tables were scrubbed with sand to get them really clean. Sand was also used to clean pans along with pan-scrubbers that travelling people or 'tinks', as they were referred to in the 1930s, would sell round the doors. These were made from bundles of heather stems tied tightly together. You would use a cast iron three-legged pot on the fire. 'Judge' was the brand name for a commonly used enamel pot. When pots became badly chipped they were often used to hold hens' feed. Big pots were used for boiling clothes. Kettles were made out of cast iron and knives were sharpened on a wall or doorstep. You used wooden baking boards, horn spoons for eating brose, and bone spoons for boiled eggs. Wooden spoons were used for cooking, a wooden spurtle known as a theevil was used for stirring porridge and you also had a wooden tattie masher. In most kitchens you would also find a mincer, with different sized discs, clamped to the table, a whisk, ladle, graters, metal sieves and colanders and also a round hair sieve made of thin tin or horse hair.


Crofts and farms would also have had a byre for the cattle and stables for the horses. There would be a hen house, a threshing mill and store for the grain. If pigs were kept there would be a small pig house.

[NOTE: Photo:'Birdie Knapp, Catterline, in the 1920s. Chae and Christina Smith.']

Chapter 3


Fish was a major part of people's diet because it was relatively inexpensive. Herrings cost 1d each from the fish man who came from Gourdon - herring and tatties were a common meal. Hairy tatties were also eaten regularly. This was made with dried haddock, which was soaked in several changes of water to remove the salt, mixed with mashed tatties. Spelding, a very dry yellow fish, is remembered, as is dried hake.


Rabbit, hare and ham were usually eaten and sometimes chicken as a treat. Venison, duck and pheasant were eaten by the upper classes, and occasionally the country folk also managed to acquire them.

If you lived on a farm, a pig was often kept and butchered at home. Normally this took place in October, but there is a saying that it could happen in any month with an 'R' in it because those were the months when the meat would keep. Mr. Dallas was an expert at cutting up a pig. Ham, sausages and bacon were available after the pig had been butchered. 'Potted Heid' was made by boiling the pig's head: the meat from the head was minced and the liquid added and then left to set, Sometimes the trotters were added to help the gelling process. Bacon was cured by rubbing salt on to the meat, or by being soaked in brine. Mealie dumpling was made with oatmeal, salt, pepper and onions boiled in a piece of pig's intestine.

Beef tea was an invalid food. It was made by boiling a piece of beef for hours until the meat had broken down and all the goodness was transferred into the liquid. The liquid was then drunk.

Hare soup was another favourite. This was a dark brown soup, which was made by boiling a hare and adding its blood, which had been saved earlier, to the soup at the last minute. Eating curried rabbit is also remembered.


Most homes had a garden where blackcurrants, rhubarb and raspberries were grown and sometimes an apple tree. Wild brambles, rosehips, blaeberries, rowans and crab apples were also gathered and used for making jams, jellies, preserves and pies.


Garden vegetables were grown, including cabbage, kale, carrots, potatoes, turnips, peas, shallots and onions.


Eggs were usually plentiful as most people in the country kept hens. When there was a glut, some would be preserved with ising glass. This would seal them and they would keep for up to three months. During the 2nd World War, if there was a shortage of fresh eggs, dried egg was available.


Baking was all home made. Sugar and flour was seemingly plentiful, with flour from the millar being sold in 140 lb bags; the empty bags were then used as aprons. Oatmeal was bought in large sacks and farm servants were given five stone of meal as part of their wage. Bees were kept by a few folk to provide honey. Bread bought from the baker was referred to as a 'half loaf' because two were baked in a tin and then split. Clootie dumpling was made as a treat for a birthday or at Hogmanay. This was a fruit dumpling boiled in a floured cloth, then dried either in the oven or at the side of the fire so that a smooth skin formed. The next day, left over dumpling was fried in butter. Other baking day favourites were treacle scones, bannocks, pancakes, scones made with buttermilk and tattie scones. Very occasionally when a child, as a treat, you may have been given a baker's pennyworth of broken biscuits.

Up until the 1960s, cheese and butter were also made regularly: Beastie Cheese being a favourlte.


Puddings were usually milk based and included rice, semolina (sometimes served with oatcakes crumbled over it) and junket, also known as curds & whey. Roly-poly, stewed rhubarb and apple dumpling are also well remembered.


Porter - a strong black beer - was sold in the Economic Store in Arbuthnott as early as 1920.

To make Dr Watson's Stout you would buy a packet of dry ingredients and add water to it and then bottle it. The fermenting liquid sometimes made the bottle corks pop. This stout was known to be added to porridge when milk was scarce because the cow was dry.

A half bottle of whisky cost 12/6 up to the beginning of the 1st World War and £2 after the War.

Homemade wine was made with surplus fruit, vegetables, wild fruit or flowers. Elderberry was a favourite as was elderflower, which was popular with the ladies.

Extreme care had to be taken when drinking home made wine as it could be extremely potent.

Ginger beer was also made. It had to be left to ferment and was fed daily with ginger and sugar. Some was kept to start off the next batch; this was known as the 'beastie'.

Shaking a piece of liquorice in a bottle with water, until the desired strength was reached, made sugarallie water.

Cocoa was a favourite with children at bedtime.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Fry's Cocoa advertisement from 1908; taken from the original Arbuthnott Book.']


Tablet and treacle toffee were made at home - sometimes treacle toffee was the result of the tablet making going wrong!

At the markets in Aberdeen you could buy 'conversation lozenges'. These were a hard flat sugar sweetie with a message printed on it. The idea being that you would swap sweeties with friends and hold a conversation.

Gob stoppers, bull's eyes, sherbet and liquorice were also available.


All food eaten was fairly plain and natural. For breakfast porridge was made with oatmeal and water with a pinch of salt. It was soaked over night and brought to the boil in the morning. Some people were reputed to make a big pot full at the beginning of the week and pour it into an empty drawer and leave it to set. This was eaten cold, slice by slice, during the rest of the week. Men also ate brose. The cream from the top of the milk was eaten with porridge and brose but served separately to keep the cream cold.

Dinner time was often the main meal of the day because the men came home at mid-day to rest the horses. At suppertime you might have had pudding or porridge first then cheese, oatcakes and butter, all home made. At this time the men did not have a piece break on the farm and there were no snacks. Children were sometimes given bread and treacle at school but this cost 1d. In 1922 milk cost 3d a pint and a half loaf cost 4d.

The following were common meals in bygone days; some are still enjoyed today:

• Soup made from a knap bone costing 1d from the butcher. Soup was said to taste better the second day and was called yavil broth. If served up a third day it was called resurrection broth.

• Mince and skirlie.

• New tatties, cabbage and butter.

• Tatties and dip - potatoes served with a white sauce with mustard added.

• Tattie soup - this was often served with oatcakes.

• Stovies - potatoes and onions boiled together until almost dry.

• Murley - hot oatcakes crumbled into milk.

• Rabbit stew.

• Sheep's head broth.

• Beastie cheese - made from the first milking after a cow had calved.

• Crowdie - cheese.

• Sowans - meal that was fermented with whisky.

• Neep, kale or cabbage brose - oatmeal soaked in the water used to boil the vegetables.

• Peas meal brose - made with powdered peas.

• Gruel - thin brose made with oatmeal and boiled water that was used as an invalid food.

• Athol brose - whisky and oatmeal.

The following food prices are from before the 1st World War:

Bread 4lbs 5½d
Sugar 2lbs 4d
Tea 1/4lb 4d
Flour 7lbs ½d
Meal 7lbs 10d
Pot barley 2lbs 3½d
Cheese 1lb 9d
Currants 1lb 6d
Raisins 1lb 6d
Pork 1lb 7d
Meat 1lb 8d
Tinned meat 1lb 8d
Split peas 2lbs 4½d
Sago 2lbs 5d
Rice 2lbs 3d
Tapioca 2lbs 3d
Salt 14lbs 4d
Mutton 1lb 10d
Bacon (frying) 1lb 1/2
Bacon (cooked) 1lb 1/4
Potatoes (old crop) cwt 2/-
Coals barrel 1/10

[NOTE: Photo:'Mrs David Reid from The Gobbs with Charles and David Jnr. in 1910.']

Chapter 4


Before the First World War, for school, boys wore woollen jerseys with a crocheted or knitted tie to match, along with tweed jackets and knickerbockers. Starched collars with studs were also worn with a ribbon bow and sometimes a white celluloid collar, which could be easily cleaned. Boys wore short trousers until they left school. In the summer, to save wear and tear of boots, it was considered normal to run about in bare feet, In the winter, if the weather was really bad you stayed at home, otherwise you greased your boots with hens' fat to keep out the wet and wore spats or gaiters to keep your legs warm, This was before wellington boots came on the scene in the 1930s - also before they were within the financial reach of working families.

In 1908 the girls all wore a pinny, usually white, but also sometimes coloured, over their school clothes, Clothing was mostly homemade with many items altered and passed down from one child to the next. On Sundays, girls wore a white starched dress, and for Sunday school a bonnet and Sunday coat. Some bonnets were trimmed with flowers.

All the girls had long hair and wore knitted tammies to school, They wore a liberty bodice made of a fluffy lined material over their vest which most girls hated; they had tapes that hung down and were attached to long black knitted stockings, later models had buttons for suspenders to hold up slightly thinner stockings.

[NOTE: Photo:'Mr and Mrs James Riddoch and Nellie, 1910.']

Another garment sometimes worn was a pair of combinations, These were an all in one garment that combined a long sleeved vest and long underpants which had new legs knitted on when the knees wore out. Some had a flap at the back for convenience. Tackety boots that came up past the ankle were the norm for school wear, although some had button boots. Shoes were worn on Sundays. Later, girls wore a kilt with a bodice, which again was handed down to younger sisters. At one time most things worn were knitted.

[NOTE: Photo: 'A family group - the younger girls are in identical outfits.']

At the beginning of the century it was customary for girls and women to wear numerous layers of clothing. A typical set of attire for winter would be:

• home knitted woollen vest or semmit.

• full-length cotton chemise.

• knickers - homemade out of flannelette or cotton.

• petticoats - one flannel and one cotton.

• a thickish dress.

• pinafore.

• home knitted stockings.

• button boots - a buttonhook was needed to fasten boots.

In the summer the same layers were worn but made of thinner materials. On a Sunday finer knitted wool stockings were worn - possibly machine knitted.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Four generations - Mrs Middleton senr. with daughter, grandson and greatgrandson.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Four generations of Stewarts in 1911. L to R: Mrs Stewart; her son John Stewart, Millplough; his daughter, Annie Taylor, with her baby daughter Agnes Taylor on her knee.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'An unknown group, around 1927.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Identical expressions from Nellie Riddoch and her mother - 1917']

Around the 1920s and 30s girls always wore a long dress, with puff sleeves. If you were riding your bicycle you had to hitch your dress up out of the way or it caught in the spokes of the wheels.

Crepe de chine was a favourite material as it did not crush, but it was apt to shrink if it got wet.

It had the advantage that it could be bought for a guinea, sometimes from Aberdeen at Isaac Benzie's or Reid and Pearsons. Muffs, fox furs and ermine wraps were also worn on certain occasions. You were never seen without a hat.

Clothes were not washed as often as today; normally washday was once a week and children often had to fill the wash bath before going to school.

Men wore:

• a vest.

• a sleeveless flannel undershirt.

• a top shirt - sometimes called a Kirkcaldy shirt that was reputed to be not very warm.

• working trousers; either moleskin or cords. These were fastened just below the knee with a short leather strap or piece of string - nicky tams. This was said to keep the heat in and the rats out!

• jacket.

• tackety boots were worn to work and a lighter pair on a Sunday.

• bonnets were also worn, a lighter one on a Sunday with luggens.

Men's underpants and working socks were knitted in a coarse thick worsted yarn called wheeling wool. Oilskins were worn outside when it was wet - especially at harvest time for stooking - and bicycle trousers were worn for cycling.

Working boots were usually repaired at home on the 'devil' but Sunday ones were taken to the shoemaker.

During the 2nd World War when stockings were very scarce, ladies remember using cocoa powder to colour their legs and painting a black line up the back to make it look as though they were wearing stockings. They also remember wearing hand made knitted fishnet stockings - you bought hanks of cotton to knit them - and Lyle stockings were a popular brand. Parachute silk was used to make underwear.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mary Stewart, Millplough - 1915.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mary & John Stewart, Millplough.']

Chapter 5

Medicines & Superstitions

Medicinal Cures -

Folk don't remember being ill very often which was perhaps due to the medication if you were: Caster Oil was used as a remedy for just about everything including toothache and stomach ache. You had to pay for treatment from the doctor and therefore you only saw him if it was an emergency. Before modern day medical cures were available, the following homemade remedies were used, some of which have stood the test of time and are still around today:

Tickly cough - sugar was put on to a tin plate and burnt with a hot poker.

Sore throat - hot salt was placed in an old sock and tied round your neck.

A cold - steeping your feet in a basin of mustard powder and scalding hot water.

Blocked nose - camphor oil was either rubbed onto the chest or put into a basin of hot water and inhaled.

Chestiness - a sheet of brown paper was put on the chest.

Sore back - brown paper was ironed on the back for relief.

Cuts and sores - white of an egg was used to seal them.

Boils or festering sores - a bread poultice was used to draw out the poison.

Constipation - syrup of figs was used as a laxative. Children were given a spoonful as a matter of course, whether they needed it or not, often on a Friday night.

In the early part of the century premature deaths were far more prevalent, as the memory of the following cases illustrate.

In 1926 William Carson, the headmaster's son, died at the age of 11 years in Stonehaven from scarlet fever.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Extract from Arbuthnott School Register.']

Peggie Tavendale (also known as Ella), the cattleman's daughter, from the Home farm, died from meningitis in the spring of 1927 at the age of 12.

Isobel Eggo, from Craighead, was killed by a bus at the Old Bridge at Bervie in July 1930.

Elsie Cushnie, from the Mill of Arbuthnott, died about 1930, aged 13 or 14, from natural causes.

Superstitions -

• Don't put shoes on the table. The origins of which came from in the time of the Great Plague when it was thought to transfer the germs to food.

• Don't look at a new moon through glass.

• Don't fill the sugar bowl on a Friday.

• Don't flit salt, leave it behind along with matches and a little money.

• Don't cut your nails on a Sunday.

• Don't walk under a ladder.

• Fishermen would not go to sea if they saw a hare.

• Woman and Ministers were bad luck on board a fishing boat.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Ella Tavendale standing in front of her sister Nan, with Nora Kemp sitting, 1921.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Elsie Cushnie, Mill of Arbuthnott.']

Weather Sayings

• Red sky at night, shepherds delight
Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning.

• Mist from the hills brings water to the mill
Mist from the sea brings honey to the bee.

• If the snow lies about behind the dykes and hedges, it is said to be waiting for more.

•When the peesies start to nest, a bad storm is on its way. This usually happens about the beginning of April.

• If a cat sneezes, it is going to snow.

• If a cat is seen washing behind its ears, it is going to rain.

• Killing a spider will bring rain.

[NOTE: Photo: 'May Smith, Nellie Riddoch and Maggie Aitken outside the Arbuthnott shop during a school girl reunion in 1988.]

Chapter 6

Trades & Travelling Tradesmen

Arbuthnott Shop and Post Office:

Originally the Post Office was situated at Midgeloch. There is little information about it at this time, except from that found in the Arbuthnott School Register and Arbuthnott Church Communicants Roll book. These showed the following folk living there:

1879 John Wyse
1881 James Thomson
1887 - 1905 Joseph Simon
1907 Mr Rainbird

However, John Wyse, James Thomson and Joseph Simon all have their professions recorded as 'tailor'; therefore it appears that they undertook both duties. It is also remembered that at one time there was a tailor at Miltonmuir. Mr. Rainbird came from London to work in Arbuthnott House before running the Post Office. In December 1915 a burglary was committed at the Post Office - a report of this can be found in 'Newspaper Gleanings' in Part 2.

At one time a Mail Gig came through Arbuthnott. It took passengers between Fordoun and Bervie, and from 1913 it also brought newspapers. It was owned by the proprietor of the Crown Hotel in Bervie - the old chemist shop beside the Crown Hotel was at one time the entrance for the mail gig.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advert for Bannerman's from 1908.']

An old map of Arbuthnott dated 1868 records the building where the shop was situated as 'Arbuthnott Arms Inn'. However, we have no other information about the Inn except for an entry in the burial records for Arbuthnott Kirk yard which lists the death of Catrine Robertson who died from 'old age' on 11th September 1861 aged 83, and her address is given as the Arbuthnott Arms Inn. The first recorded merchants or shopkeepers of the General Store, formally called Arbuthnott Economic Stores are:

1861 census Samuel Adams - grocer
1871 census James Tause - grocer
1874-1889 Alexander Tause
1889-1915 Peter Bannerman, then Gerald Bannerman

Bannerman's was licensed to sell Porter. It was a general shop that sold bread and groceries. Folk remember taking a jar along to be filled with syrup or treacle from large containers in the shop with small taps in them. Mr. Bannerman had a large van that went round the countryside. The current butcher in Bervie is a grandson of the family. The van stopped when the Bannermans left.

[NOTE: Photo: 'This carefully posed scene outside the shop has survived as a hand-tinted postcard. David Watson is the driver of the lorry, which carries a crate stamped with Bannerman's name. SU on the number plate revelas that the vehicle was first registered in Kincardineshire.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Isabella and Grant Williamson outside the shop during the Gulf War in 1990.']

1916 - 1924 Innes
1927 Jack Mclean - He drove the Co-op van before taking over the shop.
1936 Jim and Anna Blease - They also had a butcher's shop and a van.
1970-1990 Eddie & Anna Karpinski - Eddie worked at the Home farm and Mrs Karpinski ran the shop.
1990-1993 John & Irene Cruden
1993 - 1995 Margaret & John McNicoll

[NOTE: Photo: 'Notice in Mearns Leader on the retirement of Mrs Innes, 1924.']

Sadly the shop closed in December 1995. John McNicoll continued as Sub-Postmaster working from both the shop premises and Drumyocher Cottage, until September 1997, at which time the Post Office was incorporated into The Grassic Gibbon Centre.

[NOTE: Photo: 'George Blease outside the shop with his Triumph motorbike.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jim and Anna Blease.']

Other Trades -


Innes Denhead 1877
Alexander Low Kair Lodge 1877
James Reid Puttyburn 1877
Known as Putty Reid, he lived down the Church Road; he was found dead repairing button boots.
James Watt Denhead 1878


Alexander Gove Townhead 1877
Wm. Moncur Parkneuk 1877
James Riddoch Parkneuk 1918

Mr Riddoch made furniture and violins and some of his furniture was still in the area in the late 1990s. Two of his wood planes, stamped with his name, were gifted to the Grassic Gibbon Centre in 1995. He was also the undertaker and Registrar.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Joiner James Riddoch, his wife and daughter Nellie beside Parkneuk around 1911.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advertisement for James Riddoch, Joiner - 1908.']


John Scott The Smithy 1872
John Jackson Boghall 1877
David Reid Boghall 1877
Alexander Adams The Smithy 1878
Robert Graham Townhead 1878
Alexander Gove Parkneuk 1881
George Black (later Alexander) The Smithy 1885

Alex Black is remembered for his large collection of birds' eggs. There was a snowball tree in his garden. A copy of his account book for 1919 was found at the Smiddy and is now kept at the Grassic Gibbon Centre. It is not in very good repair, or easy to read, but does give an insight into the many types of goods he sold, their price in 1919 and the farmers who did business with him.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advertisement for George Black, Blacksmith - 1908.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Mill House around 1900.']


Robert Milne Bamph 1877
James Gordon Steps 1882

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Mill House around 1900.']

Arbuthnott Mill:
The Mill of Arbuthnott was built on its present site about 1839 but ceased to be used as a working mill from around the turn of the century, and today all that is left is a ruin: the mill wheel was removed in the mid 1990s and is now situated in front of the Old School. Little is remembered about the mill; Mrs Aitken can't remember seeing the mill working but she remembers the machinery was there in 1913 as was the water wheel and lade; Arch Middleton remembers playing at the Mill during school break time around 1934 and the roof and machinery were intact at that time.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Mill House and steading before 1920 - Wm Cushnie is seated in front of the house. The woman is unknown but could be either Mrs Cushnie or Mrs Mutch.]

Before 1839 a mill had been situated in the corner of Arbuthnott House gardens about 100 yards from the House and there was also a waulk mill, used for finishing home-made cloth, situated at the bottom of the Bamph brae opposite the church. It was discontinued as a waulk mill about the same time as the present mill was built. The miller's house, also a ruin, can still be seen just below the church.

Meal Cart:

Mr Ferrier travelled from the Mill of Conveth, Laurencekirk and brought meal round the area from the early 1920s. Mr Lawson also drove the cart which delivered oatmeal and flour. Depending on where they lived in Arbuthnott, folk bought meal from Mr. Watson at Benholm Mill, who also came round in a cart. Grain was also taken to Mr Simpson at Mill of Mondynes and exchanged for oatmeal.

[NOTE: Photo: 'The Postie at Millplough in 1920.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex Chree delivering mail to Burnside.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex Smith the Postie taken at his wedding in 1913.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arthur Ingram, who retired in May 2000.']


Alex Smith 1913

Alex Chree 1919-34
Postie for Arbuthnott district. He cycled from Fordoun everyday.

Ken Pirie 1930s
He used to collect boots and shoes. Folk used to say to him "Ken, you're welcome".

Coull 1950s

Pat Manson

Bob Cattanach

Arthur Ingram
Arthur retired in May 2000 after thirty eight years service. He was very helpful and popular with everyone in the area.

Telegraph Boys:

They came round on bikes to deliver telegrams.


You had to go to Inverbervie to visit the Doctor although he did make house calls when required.

District Nurse:

Nurse Flora McGibbon, now Mrs. Gammie, was district nurse in Arbuthnott between 1943-1945. During that time she lodged in the Manse with the Rev. and Mrs. S Russell. She trained in Castle Terrace, Edinburgh and was employed by the Nursing Association. A car and petrol allowance was provided and the car was serviced in Bervie and kept in the buildings below the Manse. As the Minister was in the A.R.P. the phone was in his bedroom and, if the Nurse was called out during the night, he would put on his coat on top of his pyjamas, go down for the car and take it up to the manse gate for her. Once she had a flat tyre on her way home from doing relief in Johnshaven, and two soldiers walking home on leave changed it for her.

Most of her night calls were to home births; she has a vivid memory of following the snowplough from the Manse to a house near Catterline to deliver a baby in January 1945. The baby has received a birthday card from the Nurse every year since. Once a baby had been delivered the Nurse visited twice a day for four days and then once a day after that. The Nurse could call on the Doctors in Bervie for help and in an emergency they could call out an ambulance with personnel from Aberdeen, called the 'Flying Squad'. She felt that the doctors treated her as an equal and they worked well together.

A lot of her work involved caring for cancer cases, old folk and the usual childhood illnesses. She covered the area of Arbuthnott and Barras and right up the Garvock and also did relief for Bervie and Johnshaven. She once got very lost in Barras during the blackout.

Occupations -

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott House Staff around 1923. Ruth Hendry; Mini Duncan; Bett Emslie; Arch Greig; Margot and the cook.']

Work in the area was mainly agricultural related. Arbuthnott Estate employed a number of staff; horsemen, tractor men, greive, foreman, cattlemen and shepherd. At one time there were also six indoor staff. The pay for them was 7/6 per week and they provided their own uniforms. Outside there were two gardeners, a gamekeeper and a forester. Arbuthnott House was self-sufficient except for butchery. At one time it is said that there was also employed a simple minded chap who would report back to the Laird what the workers were up to - he was known as the 'Laird's lugs'. An overseer or factor was also employed by the Estate; around the time of the 1st World War, Mr. Charles Preddy was in charge of the Estate on behalf of the Trustees.

Some local men and women were also employed in the jute mills at Bervie.

The chores of a woman who worked at the Castle Hotel in Inverbervie included being barmaid, stable maid and cleaning the visitors' shoes. And for another woman, who worked at Bannerman's the grocer in Gourdon at the beginning of the 2nd World War, chores included helping in the bake house, doing all the housework and feeding the pigs.

Travelling Tradesmen -

Vans were an important part of life in Arbuthnott until at least the 1960s; they travelled from house to house selling goods which, because of lack of transport, people would not have been able to purchase otherwise. And, just as importantly to a scattered rural community, they also brought local news. At one time there were so many 'vans' selling goods that a common saying was that "your purse was never out of your hand with the number of vans that came to the door". Originally they would have used horse drawn carts, bicycles or travelled on foot. As fewer people lived in the countryside and as public and private transport became more accessible, vans gradually began to disappear. Some folk also say they stopped because folk on farms needed fewer warm clothes because of cabs on tractors.

The following are those vans and travelling tradesmen still remembered today:

Milk Cart:
Mollie Cushnie Mill of Arbuthnott
Madge McCombie Pitcarles

[NOTE: Photo: 'Willie Eccles delivering milk to Bervie in 1958 by horse and cart because the milk float couldn't get up the Arbuthnott road for snow.]

Around 1926, they got up at 5am to milk the cows and 7am to deliver milk to Bervie and Gourdon before going to school.

Robbie Turner

From Hillhead of Auquhirie. He took his boar round the farms. There was someone who also did the same with a stallion.

Co-op Van Monday and Thursday Butcher and Grocers

Driven by David McLean, it carried bread and general goods.
1925/26 it was a horse drawn van and the shop was where the Bervie Chipper is today, just over the bridge at Inverbervie.

Gillanders Mondays
After 1956.

Lownie Tuesday and Friday Fishman
Started in 1946 and came from Gourdon. His son still comes round today.

Sandy Duncan, Wednesday General Grocers, Clothing and Boots
He came from Catterline find was also known as 'Shoppie Duncan's'. He still owns the Glen Lorna at Catterline.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Shand and Wood, general merchants, delivering bread.]

Shand & Wood Wednesday Baker
Previously called Woods, then Shand & Wood, and finally Shand's. Peter Burnett was the driver in 1924 or 25 but he died very suddenly at the Reisk Croft. Charlie Watt then was the driver and Colin Moir later in the 1950s. Mr. Wood was famed for his Bervie bridies. They would make bridies right up until midnight on Hogmanay, then all the lads for miles round would come for a bridie then go to Church to hear the bells ring. Others enjoyed a bottle of Woods and a bridie on a Saturday night.

Addison Fridays Fruit and Veg
Known as 'Aipple Willie' he used a horse and cart but sometimes did the round on a push bike with a basket on the front when it was raining, to save his horse getting wet.

Henry Mitchell Fridays Fruit, Sweets and Grocer
Known as 'Hennie', at one time he was the only link with the outside world as he brought the messages, news and also newspapers.

Old Suttie Fish Cart

Willie Beattie Draper
Willie Beattie bought his shop in Bervie in 1919. His nephew John Reid (cousin of the present Willie Beattie) started going round the countryside with a motorbike and box sidecar in the mid to late 1920s. The first vans, which started in the early to late 1930s, travelled through Arbuthnott on their monthly visits to other areas, therefore Arbuthnott folk could have deliveries at any time. Farms and cottages were visited during the day, and the bothies in the evening, where trade was brisk. The van drivers did not carry a piece but were given their dinner or cup of tea wherever they happened to be visiting. It is remembered that Willie Beattie bought a lot of clothes from a company in London who specialised in ex-government goods such as army greatcoats, police trousers and busmen's reefer jackets, which in turn could be purchased at a reasonable price.

Jimmie Brand Rags and Rabbit Skins
In the 1930s he collected rabbit skins. He came from Laurencekirk and used to shout "Rags and rabbit skins" and swapped them for dishes. He had a son called Wull who only had one leg and needed a crutch. Wull Brand continued up to the early 1950s.

Wattie Crammond Laces and Needles
In the 1940s he came round every two or three months and sold his goods from a square box with a strap that went round his neck. This was referred to as 'cadging'. It was also said that he went caddying at St. Andrews in the summer and also pearl fishing. He would leave his box with Nellie Riddoch when he was away during the summer.

Gilberts of Dinnet Draper
This van came round twice a year after sending a post card first to say they were coming.

Ingin' Johnnies Onions

Jimmie Gray Fishman
He lived in Bervie in a house with a stone stair. He started with a horse and cart around the 1930s he used a car that opened out at the back. He came to Arbuthnott for 10 years selling Gourdon fish. He was known as 'Cadger Gray'.

Norman Cooper & Son Baker
Cooper's van started around 1933. Bert Lemon was the driver but Sandy Cooper drove during Bert's holidays. They had a set delivery round and came in all weathers, carrying mainly bread but also a few groceries. They bought eggs and butter from customers in the countryside. Eggs were worth 6d a dozen when plentiful, and 2/6 when scarce. Butter was 1/- per lb. They had to stop coming round during the war.

James Douglas Fish and Fruit
He used a pony and small cart. In his later years he became a member of Arbuthnott Reminiscence group.

Rodney Mathason Fish
He would walk from Gourdon with a creel on his back.

Miss Bell and Mr Willie Steven Chemist Van
They later married.

Scott Baker
Remembered at Alpity in 1948. He got stuck one day in the snow at the Deep Farm.

Douglas Baker
From Laurencekirk

Clark Butcher
Bob Clark came round before and after the 2nd World War. His son Robert had shops in Bervie and Laurencekirk and the delivery van continued until the late 1980s.

Andy Winning Butcher and Game Dealer
He came from Auchenblae and bought rabbits. He also occasionally sold venison.

Bert Cowie Coal
Farmers bought coal by the wagonload from the railway station and drove it home from the siding by horse and cart.

Edwards Coal
Came from Auchenblae.

Roberts Coal
Also from Auchenblae, and still delivers today.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Pony and trap at Alpitty in 1910.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advery for Craigie & Mitchell, coach builders - 1908.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Bella, Janet, Maggie & Mary-Anne Adams going by cart round Montgoldrum hill to Kinneff to catch a bus -1936.']

Chapter 7



For a long time, walking was the most common way of travelling about. People from Arbuthnott walked regularly to Bervie and Fordoun. Each stretch of road was looked after by its own council roadman. He scythed the verges and kept the ditches clear and shovelled snow in the winter.

Pony and Trap

Farmers often kept a pony and trap; sometimes it was a Shetland pony and gig. Coach tours were run with a horse drawn coach and the doctor usually used a pony and trap.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alexander Cobb and his niece at Drumyocher in 1910.']

A governess cart - a light two-wheeled horse drawn cart, which had side-facing seats, is also remembered. The Jeans family from Oldcake used a governess cart drawn by a West Highland pony to travel to church on Sundays. The pony and trap stayed in the manse stable until the service was finished.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Two ladies with their push bikes in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advert for W P Davidson & Son, Bervie, 1908.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advert for Tavendale & Co, motor & cycle engineers - 1908.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'A lads' day out to Drumtochty glen in 1915. Bob Queen; Donald McInnes; Sye Reid; Donald Heart; Willie Scorgie.']


There were a variety of bikes and a lot of people used them. Some had a fixed wheel, which you had to keep pedalling all the time - even going down hill. If you wanted to freewheel, you had to lift your feet off the pedals and keep them clear. Some bicycles were called back peddlers because with these you had to pedal backwards to stop. Ladies' bikes did not have a bar across the frame, as this would have interfered with their skirts. Postmen had red bikes with a flat grid on the front for their sack.

If there were a few going in the same direction and you had to share a bike you would take turns to ride the bike for a certain distance, for example, between the length of a number of telegraph poles. The first person would start and leave the bike propped up against the pole waiting for the next person who would collect the bike and cycle on to the next stop point passing the others on the way. And so the exercise would be repeated until the destination was reached.

[NOTE: Photo: 'All set for a ride on the motor bike.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Alex and Nan Jeans in the late 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Nellie Riddoch and friend.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Fine example of an early motor car in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Social club outing in 1948. Displaying their British made motorbikes are P Laing with an Ariel(SP); G Blease with his Triumph; and D Fyfe with his Volosit.']

Motor Bikes
Some of the bothy lads had motorbikes. Later motorbikes had a sidecar for passengers. At one time you had to sit a test to drive a motorbike, even though you already had a car licence.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Nellie Riddoch in a car with the top down in 1925.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'William Adams Sen., Montgoldrum with a Willis Overland in 1924.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Family day out in 1927.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Another example of an early vehicle showing the spare petrol can on the running board.']


In the early 1920s it was very unusual for anyone to have a car. When they did start to come into the area they could only be driven at a low speed. Initially you did not need a licence to drive a car, and once you did you could still drive on your own before sitting a driving test. The Minister was one of the first in the area to have a car.

All the early cars had manually operated 'trafficators' as indicators and a starting handle. Although by 1929 self-starters were making an appearance, cars continued to have a starting handle for a long time just in case the starter didn't work. Until around the 1960s, the gears were gate gears: each change of gear had a slot. The rear car door opened from front to back instead of the other way round as in modern cars. The running board - the step that ran along the car under the bottom of the door - was kept spotlessly clean and polished by some proud owners and woe betide you if you dared to put a foot on it when you were getting out and in the car. There was often a spare can of petrol sitting on the running board.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Outing to Angus show in 1948. L to R: Doug Fyffe; Arch and Bill Middleton.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'George Blease with his father's grey Rover car in 1950.']

The cost of a car was relatively high in comparison to wages. In 1934 a second hand Austin would cost about £30. In the 1930s a new Ford car would cost approximately £100. A working man's weekly wage would have been around 18/- at time.

The most common makes of cars in the early days were Ford, Singer and Morris.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Church choir outing in 1913; charabancs sitting outside Bervie Motors.']


Peter's Garage at Bervie had a mini bus that was mainly used for private hire. In the late 1920s there were service buses running on the main roads, but not through Arbuthnott.

Coull's buses were the first to run through Arbuthnott in 1947. The driver was John Caird and the conductress was Bunty Keith. A daily service left Auchenblae at 8 am which went through Arbuthnott to Bervie, and from there over the Garvock hill to Laurencekirk. It stayed in Laurencekirk for 30 minutes before returning by the same route. There was a similar run at 2 p.m., which arrived back at Fordoun in time to meet the Aberdeen train, to take any train passengers to Auchenblae. An extra run on Wednesdays and Saturdays left Auchenblae at 6 p.m. and Laurencekirk at 10 p.m.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Girls' social club outing to Edzell in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Social club outing in 1950 on a Bluebird Bus -Back L to R: Molly Middleton; Mrs Fyfe; Mrs Stewart; bus driver; Bunty Roberts; Bill Gove bus driver; Bertha Roberts. Front L to R: Mary Murray; Cath Rennie; Jessie Eccles; Bert Fyfe.']

Coull's sold the business to John Thomson in 1952.

At one time there was also a bus on a Monday to Laurencekirk for the mart.

Later, Alexander's ran a Saturday service for a period of time. Bluebird buses are also remembered.


The only remembered taxi was Hilly Clark at Hillhead although some thought there was also one in Bervie early on.


There were train stations at Fordoun and Drumlithie for journeys north to Stonehaven or Aberdeen and south to Laurencekirk. You would use either station depending on where you lived in the parish.

The station at Bervie was used for travel down the coast to Montrose. There were stations at Gourdon and Johnshaven with a stop at Northwaterbridge. This line was closed in the 1960s but parts of the route are still traceable today and are used as a walkway.

Some people from this area went by train to Glasgow in 1938 to visit the Empire Exhibition. Nellie Riddoch remembered travelling by motorbike to Bervie, then by train down to Glasgow.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Early taxi in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Sports in the early part of the century, with teas being served from a lorry in the background.']

Chapter 8

World Wars

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott War Memorial']

Arbuthnott, in common with all other parishes, lost young men in both World Wars, especially in the First War when fourteen died. Two died in the 1939-45 conflict. Their names appear on the Arbuthnott War Memorial, which is located on the gable wall of the Parish Hall.

We had hoped to be able to write something about them all and exactly where and when they lost their lives. However, the records of the Commonwealth Graves Commission do not include the farm names as given on our Memorial and, because of many similar names listed in the registers, it was quite a challenging task to prove conclusively which were from Arbuthnott. However, we believe the following information is correct.

[NOTE: Photo: '1st World War Sympathy Notice']

1914-1918 -

Roll Call of the Fallen

Charles Begg, Peattie - 5th Battalion Black Watch
Born in Luthermuir and enlisted in Broughty Ferry. He saw service in France and Flanders and died of his wounds on 9th September 1915.

James Begg, Peattie - 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders
Born in Laurencekirk and enlisted in Aberdeen. He also saw action in France and Flanders and died of his wounds on 10th April 1917. Charles and James were the sons of Mr. and Mrs James Begg, Peattie Croft.

Duncan Campbell, Bamph -1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders
Born in St Nicholas, Aberdeenshire and enlisted in Aberdeen. He fought in France and Flanders and was killed in action on 18th July 1916. He was 19 years old and was a gamekeeper. His parents lived in Gourdon.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Both pages: Sympathy card for Wm Middleton, Hairmuir, Benholm, killed in action on 6th April 1917, aged 19 years 11 months.']

William Copland, Alpity - Royal Garrison Artillery
Born in Strachan and enlisted in Aberdeen. He fought in France and Flanders and died in France on 14th September 1917. His parents received news that he had been wounded on 6th August 1916 while serving as a gunner. He recovered from his wounds and had been back in France for only a few weeks when he was killed. Before joining the army in 1915 he was a farm servant at Arduthie, Stonehaven.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Newspaper notice - death of William Copland.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Article in local press on the death of William Copland in France.']

Frances (Fred) Crabb, Allardyce - Machine Gun Corps
Born in Laurencekirk and enlisted in Bervie. He served in France and Flanders and was killed in action on 5th December 1916. He was the son of Mrs Betsy Crabb and the late James Crabb, 63 Johnston Street, Laurencekirk. There is a memorial stone for him in Arbuthnott Churchyard.

Robert Elrick, Brenzies Hill - 5th Battalion Highlanders
Born in Foveran, Aberdeenshire and enlisted in Aberdeen. He fought in France and Flanders and died of his wounds in France on 2nd June 1918. He was 23 years old.

John Hadden, Temple of Fiddes - The Canadians
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs John Hadden and died on 31st July 1917. He was thirty years old and had been employed by The Martinsdale Sheep Company in Montana USA.

George Milne, Millplough - Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Born at Millplough and enlisted in Forfar. He fought in France and Flanders and was killed in action on 15th October 1916.

[NOTE: Photo: 'William Middleton - notification of death.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Young soldiers in uniform. William Middleton, seated in the centre, was killed in action in 1917. He was the brother of Arch Middleton Snr, Millplough.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Robert Lemon's Christmas wishes certificate was presented to school children who had helped the war effort by sending gifts to "Our brave soldiers and sailors".']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Letter from the Secretary of State for War which accompanied the death notification for William Middleton.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Commemorative Certificate for Gunner William Middleton.']

[NOTE: Photo: '1st World War hand embroidered souvenir card from France.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Hand embroidered souvenir card.']

William Munro, Greenden - 14th Battalion Black Watch (Fife & Forfar Yeomanry) Born in Montrose and enlisted in Glasgow. He fought in France and Flanders and was killed on 10th September 1918 at Robssoy-Basse, Boulogne Ridge.

Alexander Murray, The Mains - The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Born in Arbuthnott and enlisted in Dundee. He fought in France and Flanders and was killed in action on 27th October 1916. He was the son of Mrs Murray and the late James Murray who was the grieve at Arbuthnott Mains. Before enlisting he was a draper in Montrose and Dundee. On the day he died he sent a post card to his sister saying he was alive and well. He was 40 years old.

William T Ross, Midgeloch - Royal Scots Fusiliers
Born in Kinneff and enlisted in Forfar. He served in France and Flanders and died on 25th September 1915.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Bruce Stewart, Millplough in uniform; he had emigrated to New Zealand.']

Francis Henderson Thomson, Allardyce - 4th/5th Battalion Black Watch
Born in Montrose and enlisted in Bervie. He served in France and Flanders and died of his wounds on 25th October 1916. He was 21 years old and was the son of Mrs Elizabeth Thomson and the late Francis Thomson, 68 Northesk Road, Montrose.

William Young, The Lodge - Highland Light Infantry
Born in Arbuthnott and enlisted in Hamilton. He was the eldest son of the late Sergeant Young and Mrs Young. His three brothers were also serving soldiers. He had been in the army for 5 years before the war and had been with his regiment in Ireland and India. On the outbreak of war, he was posted to Egypt and left there for France on 9th November. The last letter from him, written shortly after his arrival in France was dated 4th December 1914. He was killed on 19th December 1914. There is a memorial stone for him in Arbuthnott Churchyard.

Robert E Walker, Drumyocher - 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders
Born in Fordoun and enlisted in Laurencekirk. Wounded while serving in France, he died in England on 25th October 1914, and was buried in Brompton Cemetery. He received the French 'Croix de Guerre' posthumously, which his father travelled to London to receive.

Over 8,000 Gordon Highlanders and the same number from the Black Watch died in the First World War.

Listed as wounded 1914-1918

Robert Jessiman - Gordon Highlanders
Son of Mr. and Mrs Jessiman, Kirkton. He was a farm servant in Glenbervie.

[NOTE: Newspaper clipping]

John Ritchie
Son of Mr. and Mrs Ritchie, Gyratesmyre. He was a farm servant in the district.

Albert Mustard, Boghall
He was wounded several times.

Charles Smith
He was a crofter and roadman from the Reisk.

Alexander Hadden - King's Own Scottish Borderers
Son of Mr. and Mrs John Hadden, Temple of Fiddes. Before the war, he worked for Gavin the contractor in Drumlithie.

[NOTE: Newspaper clipping]

Prisoner of War

Gordon Elrick - Gordon Highlanders
Son of Mr. and Mrs Elrick, Brenzies Hill, had earlier been reported missing and was a POW. This news was conveyed to his parents in the same month in which his brother was killed. He was a farm servant at Lumphanan.

[NOTE: Newspaper clipping]

The following notices in the local press during 1914/15 give an indication of the support our soldiers received from the community.

[NOTE: Nine pages of newspaper articles from 1914]

[NOTE: Photo: '1st World War Red Cross volunteers in Laurencekirk along with a group of Belgian soldiers.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Christmas card from the Princess Mary - 1915.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jake Longmuir in 1st World War uniform. He married Jean Middleton from Millplough and they emigrated to Canada in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Victory Badge belonging to Normal Roberts, Parkneuk. One was given to all children at Arbuthnott School by Lady Arbuthnott in 1919. The presentation made by the Hon Muriel Arbuthnott.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Memorial Card for Alexander Adams, Bervie, killed in action at Ypres on 25th May 1916 aged 27 years. Brother of William Adams, Montgoldrum.']

1939-45 -

Roll Call of the Fallen

William McGregor Petrie, Home Farm - 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders
He was taken prisoner by the Japanese and died in a POW camp on 23rd November 1944. He was 26 years old. His name is inscribed on a War Memorial in Singapore. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs Maxwell Petrie and had a brother Maxwell who was in the "Red Berets".

George Simpson, Chapel Croft
Born at Aquherton farm, Kintore, Aberdeenshire, his parents moved to Arbuthnott around 1943, He enlisted in the RAF on 17th April 1943 and was reported missing, presumed killed, on 16th September 1944 while on an overnight raid on Keil. This was his 18th mission.

The Social Club, under the chairmanship of Mr. Andrew Blades, raised the funds to erect the Memorial to those who died in the Second World War.

Others from Arbuthnott who served in the forces include Willie Watt, from the Gobbs. He was wounded at St. Valery and later became a miner in Newcastle; Jim Finnie from Kirkton Cottage; Pat Mutch, Bamph Croft; Rev. Russell was involved in recruitment with the T.A. in Laurencekirk and was later called up. Jean Allison joined the WRENS and Harry Anderson, Denhead was in the Gordon Highlanders. He was taken prisoner at Singapore when Japan invaded in 1942 and later emigrated to Canada. Andrew Blades the school headmaster worked in Glasgow as a scientist during the War and returned to Arbuthnott in time for the start of school term in August 1945.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Jean Allison, Kennells, Arbuthnott.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mr & Mrs Andrew Blades.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Harry Anderson, Denhead, in his Gordon Highlander uniform.']

During the Second World War, as in the first, Arbuthnott farmers were expected to play an important part in the war effort by increasing their acreage of arable crops. In a rallying address to Mearns farmers in February 1941 Mr, G. H. Russell, the chairman of the Kincardine Agricultural Committee, outlined the government's demands. These included encouraging farmers to show enterprise in growing new crops, or ones which had fallen into disuse because of foreign imports; farm workers had to be encouraged to cultivate their gardens - even setting aside additional space for the purpose; farmers' sons, who may be exempt from military service, setting a good example of willingness and adaptability by signing up for the services; school children, parents and teachers being called to put up with changes in normal holidays to allow them to help with farm work.

[NOTE: Photo: 'The Scots Greys in the Square, Stonehaven in 1934.']

The difficult balance between keeping men working on farms and the need for more men in the Armed Forces ensued. In April 1941 an article on the subject appeared in the Mearns Leader where it stated that the government recognized that since food production in the country must be heavily increased it was not possible at that time to release any large proportion of experienced farm workers. A special scheme for men in the main agricultural operations was worked out which raised the age of agricultural workers being called up to 25, thereby enabling key workers on the farm to be retained. After the age of 25 they were also allowed to finish the harvest before registering for military service.

Land Army

The land army was a branch of the services. Women were drafted in to replace the farm workers who had been called up. They were supplied with their uniforms, including shoes, and to work they wore khaki breeches and tunic. Skirts were supplied for dress and they had a hat with a brim.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Maisie Greig, Home farm in her Land Army uniform, 1941.']
[NOTE: Photo: 'Maisie Greig's personal message from the Queen in 1946.']
[NOTE: Photo: 'Madge Greig, Home farm in her Land Army uniform -1941.']

Arbuthnott House female staff were called to join the land army; Madge Greig worked in Arbuthnott house gardens because the under gardener had been called up. Her sister, Maisie, was sent to Craigo beside Montrose to work in a market garden. They received a letter of thanks at the end of the war signed Elizabeth R.

Lady Mary Arbuthnott was involved in land girl placement in Ayrshire. She had a list of girls who required work, and matched them with farmers who needed help. Some of the girls volunteered so that they would not be called up into the forces. A number of girls worked in the dairies or drove the second pair of horses. In most cases they lived in the farmhouse and the farmer's wife supplied their meals.

Balmakewan, south of Laurencekirk, had a hostel because they had six land girls. There was a 'stand still' order on workers during the war, therefore once in a place you had to stay there. Sometimes the farmers' wives objected that the girls were getting too friendly with their husbands, so they were moved elsewhere. If you wanted to leave you had your employer fill out a form, or if you flitted you were fined £20. If there were too many men working on a farm some were called up. This was decided by the farm acreage.

Prisoners Of War

There was a large camp called Northill at Laurencekirk that housed about a thousand P.O.W.s. They also worked on the land and were driven to farms by lorry and collected at night. These included Italians and then Germans. The Germans were thought to be the better workers. An Italian P.O.W. called Fredo Ferrari lived at Old Cake with Mr. & Mrs. Donald Jeans. Some also came to Drumyocher and latterly a German P.O.W. stayed at Milltown. The farmers were told not to feed the P.O.W.s but farmers' wives like Mrs. Jeans often left a pot of soup outside in the steading for them.

Displaced Persons

There were also a number of displaced persons from places such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Latvia and the Balkans who came to work in the area. They were good with their hands and made baskets. From 1940 onwards Mrs Laing used to deliver 20 gallons of milk every day to a camp of Polish men beside Fordoun. She used a converted car and collected the milk from Whiteriggs. On the way back, she collected more milk and delivered it to Bervie.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross continued during the war and several members were called up to the nursing service, called the V.A.D. Lady Dorothy was with the Red Cross and had to give consent for any Red Cross function to be held in the area.


Each parish had a local committee to raise funds as part of the war effort. In order to do this in Arbuthnott, dances and whist drives were held. School concerts and drama club productions also took place. The Womens Guild turned into a work party meeting at the Manse or Arbuthnott House.

The following notices which appeared in the Mearns Leader on February 7th 1941 gives a good idea of the activities that took place.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advert for tobacco and cigarettes for prisoners of war.']

[NOTE: Newspaper article from Mearns Leader, 1941.]


Food, clothes and furniture were all rationed. Each member of the household had books of coupons. You were only allowed to buy a certain amount of food every week and when your coupons were finished you could not buy any more - legally! In July 1940 tea was put on ration at 2oz per week and cooking fats and margarine were also limited to 2oz. Sugar was cut to 8oz, but, if you kept bees you were given an extra sugar ration which in some cases caused a bit of ill feeling. Meat was also rationed; in March 1940 each person over six years old was entitled to 1/9 worth of meat a week; children under six were entitled to 11d worth. Housewives became adept at stretching out the rations with what ever came to hand. You received extra food rations during the harvest and if you kept your own pig you to hand back your bacon ration coupons. Everything from the pig was used including the bladder; which made a grand football if inflated and left to dry. To help feed others, two dozen eggs were taken from Drumyocher every week to Miss Alexander in Laurencekirk who sent one dozen to London. The other was used locally.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Fuel Ration Book.']

Petrol was also rationed. You received extra for industrial purposes such as farming, but this was only to be used for farm journeys. It was coloured pink so that it could be spotted if inspected. If you were going out and needed to use the car with the pink petrol, a common trick was to pop a calf in a sack with its head out and put it in the car. The excuse if stopped, was that you were delivering or collecting the calf. Fertilizer made from guano was also rationed and the agricultural inspector kept a tight eye on farms.

Identity Cards

Everybody had an Identity Card and you were expected to know your number.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arch Middleton, Millplough; Identity Card.']

The Army

The Army Signals Regiment took over Arbuthnott House for a few days as an Army manoeuvre to test the Home Guard. Lord Arbuthnott was in Auchenblae at a Home Guard meeting and Lady Dorothy Arbuthnott was in London at the time. Soldiers marched down to the front door and pushed past Jessie Stephen who objected strongly. The bicycle shed was used as the cipher room. One soldier gave a note to Jessie for Lady Dorothy personally. This letter was from Major Blair-Imrie, a relative of Lady Dorothy's. He was up the valley in hiding as part of the exercise as the 'enemy force'. The heavy boots of the soldiers caused lots of damage to the floors and all the public rooms were taken over. Lord and Lady Arbuthnott were only left with the library. Alan Taylor, the printer from Laurencekirk, was one of the soldiers and he stayed all night in the silver pantry.


When the bombing of cities started it was felt that children would be safer out in the country. Anybody that had room took in evacuees. 28 school age children came to this area, mainly from Dundee. The children were dropped off at the Hall and families picked out the ones they were willing to take. Three evacuees came to Arbuthnott House: Jimmy, Jessie and Williamina Welsh. They stayed at Arbuthnott for a number of years; their mother used to come and visit them. They went to Arbuthnott School, and Arch Middleton remembers befriending Jimmy. Jimmy also helped out in Arbuthnott House gardens. Mrs. Greig, East Lodge, also had two evacuees for a short time: Janette Wanman and Maretta Thomson. Most returned home very quickly. Everybody had a gasmask; the children had to take them to school with them.

In August 1940, under the Child Evacuation Scheme, Phyllis, Duncan and John Mathieson from Milltown set off on the liner "Volendam" to spend the war years with relatives in Manitoba, Canada. On the second day at sea, the ship was torpedoed, fortunately the children on board were picked up by tankers in the convoy and all returned home safely.

Mrs. Coutts, Milltown Cottages, at the age of 12, was evacuated from Glasgow to Aboyne along with five of her family. They then had to work on the farm.

Black Out

All windows had to be blacked out at night; it was an offence as well as highly dangerous to let light be seen at a window. To black out windows black material was stretched over the windows, or used to line curtains.

Bicycle and Car Lights

You had to have a good reason for being out at night after dark, because driving at night was rather difficult as car lights were taped up, so only slits were showing, and bike lights had to be kept low and half painted out.

One person remembered that during the 1st World War it became law to have a rear lamp on cycles and he got a valve for a cycle to be soldered to the front gas lamp and a rubber pipe led the gas to a rear light.

Jessie Stephen often used to cycle to Fordoun for the mail for Arbuthnott House at night. Lady Arbuthnott bought a new bicycle for this purpose.


Radios used wet batteries called accumulators and these had to be taken to be charged regularly. A van came from Bervie to collect the accumulators and take them to recharge them: you had to handle them very carefully, as they were full of acid.

Home Guard - Local Defence Volunteers

The Home Guard were not equipped or organized to begin with and only had rakes and hoes instead of guns, but things improved later. They wore tin hats and had gas masks. Arbuthnott Home Guard had to go to Bervie twice during the week and on a Sunday for training.

In August 1941 members of the Home Guard went to a three day training camp. This involved rifle drill and field training manoeuvres. They are reported to have learned more in the three days about military tactics than they had in weeks of ordinary routine work.

In 1942 Mr. Will, farmer at Mondynes was killed with a hand grenade during an exercise.

War News Items

In common with other areas all metal railings were taken down and sent away as scrap to help the war effort.

At Rickarton beside Stonehaven a German plane came down. The locals picked up the scattered bullets. One man was killed by a piece of the plane.

Montrose aerodrome was bombed, and that night Arbuthnott Home Guard joined with Bervie Home Guard to protect Bervie Bridge with whatever they could lay their hands on. Bervie Bridge was bombed on another occasion.

One plane had to make a forced landing at the Deep farm. A guard was placed on it and one of the single men going home to the Deep in the dark got the fright of his life when a voice shouted "Halt! Who goes there".

Just after the war another plane in difficulties was being directed to Fordoun airfield by Bill Innes but it came in low over Leys of Barras and crashed on a hill at Cluseburn. The pilot was killed and nothing would grow on the crash site for a number of years.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Telegram of thanks from the RAP station at Montrose to Mr Jeans, The Deep.']

17 planes attacked Aberdeen one night and locals were frightened by the sound of the planes and bombs.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Advert for Kincardine War Weapons Week.']

During the war everyone was encouraged to help by saving their money for the war effort. During War Weapons week in March 1941 Mr. A. Angus, the Savings organiser for the north-east, is quoted in the Mearns Leader as saying "that this was proving to be the costliest of all wars Britain had waged. It is appalling to think that our daily expenditure in this war is now £13,000,000 a day. Enormous as the expenditure is, our country and our Empire are rallying splendidly in support of the Government, and one of the ways by which money can be raised is the holding of a Weapons Week".

The amount Arbuthnott contributed to the scheme was £1490-2-6. This was included in the Inverbervie total of £10,307-16-6. Mr. Blades, the Schoolhouse, was congratulated for the efficient manner in which he organised the local scheme. The figure far exceeded the most sanguine hopes and parishioners had the satisfaction of knowing that they contributed at least one eighth of the sum raised in the Inverbervie District.

The total raised in Kincardineshire was £164,390-9-6. It was reported at the end of the week that "the villages and rural areas share in the credit. The small savers played their part magnificently during the week, and the success of the campaign is due to the enthusiasm of the Mearns folk who invested their money with a will".

After the war children were given a 'Victory Badge'. Arch Middleton remembers receiving one from his mother.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mitchell's Garage, Stonehaven advert.']

War Time Songs and Rhymes


Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
Mr Hitler said to me
If you want to get a gasmask free
You must join the A.R.P.

Mares eat oats and does eat oats,
Little lambs eat ivy.
A kid will eat ivy too,
Wouldn't you?

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mr Arch Greig outside the Coachman's Cottage, Home farm.']

[NOTE: Photo: Message from King George to schoolchildren]

Chapter 9


[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Church.']

The Kirk of St Ternan, Arbuthnott

A church building has existed on the same site since around 1200 and possibly before that date; there are surviving documents that recount a long running dispute between the thanes of Arbuthnott and successive Bishops of St Andrews, which was only settled by the Synod of Perth in 1206. The chancel, which was dedicated in 1242, is almost certainly the oldest existing structure in the church. The first nave of the church was probably built soon after the chancel, and rebuilt after the Reformation. In 1889 it was partly destroyed by fire and rebuilt again. Over the following 100 years the exterior has been re-pointed, the interior redecorated and modern central heating installed. To the west of the church, a slight depression in the churchyard marks the original boundary of the burial ground. Beyond this is the site of the original school, which was demolished in 1913. Maintenance of the churchyard is now the responsibility of Aberdeenshire Council.

Between the years 1471 and 1491, the Rev. James Sibbald transcribed the famous Arbuthnott Missal, Arbuthnott Prayer Book and Arbuthnott Psalter in the priest's room above the Arbuthnott Aisle (previously known as the Lady Chapel). The Arbuthnott Missal is believed to be the oldest surviving Scottish Missal, as all others were destroyed during the Reformation. The Arbuthnott books survived this period due to them being removed from the church and hidden in Arbuthnott House. They remained in the Arbuthnott family until 1897 when they were purchased by Archibald Coats, Paisley. He presented them to the Paisley Free Library and Museum where they can still be viewed today, by appointment.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Church and old schoolhouse.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. Barron and unknown group outside the Manse in 1927.']

Arbuthnott's ministers lived in the Manse at Arbuthnott until 1967 when, because of declining membership, the parishes of Arbuthnott and Kinneff became linked. A new manse was subsequently built beside Kinneff Church in 1974. By 1990 the linkages had been revised again and Arbuthnott Church became linked with Inverbervie, where our present Minister, the Rev. Alastair McKillop, now resides, and Kinneff linked with Stonehaven South Church. Originally the back wing of Arbuthnott Manse was the laundry. Today the Manse is privately owned and named Kilternan.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Letter regarding the semi-jubilee of Mr James Mutch at Church Officer in 1934.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Nellie Riddoch with Jim and Ina Stewart outside Arbuthnott Church.']

Around 1914 Sunday school was held at 10 a.m. followed by the church service from 11.30 a.m. until 1 p.m. At that time the church was lit by paraffin lamps; James Mutch was beadle, bell ringer and also the gravedigger. At the same time as Mr. Mutch was the beadle, the Minister's name was Rev. Mutch and there was also an elder called Mr. Mutch. The organ was situated in the chancel and Miss Webster from the Kirkton was organist and Margaret Mutch would blow the organ bellows for her. This was done with the use of a handle that was pumped up and down to fill the bellows with air. A small weight called a mouse hung on a string and when it reached the top it indicated that the organ needed more air and the blower had to pump furiously or the organ would have stopped. In the 1920s, the Kirkton steading went on fire during the church service.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Easter Day 1974 outside Arbuthnott Church. The group includes: Heather and Fiona Adams; Brenda Smith; Nellie Riddoch; Mrs Adams; Mrs Greig; Mabel Keilloh.']

Until 1928, communion was only held once a year on the last Sunday in June. After communion an evening service of thanksgiving was held. The Wednesday before communion was a fast day; on that day you received a communion token in church or an elder came and delivered one to you.

In the 1940s, the services in winter were held in the chancel, as it was easier to heat. To preserve heat a red velvet curtain was hung from the arch leading into the chancel.

When Maggie Stewart from Parkside was the church cleaner she always wore her slippers to do the cleaning, and one day she walked out of her slippers in a pool of honey because bees had made a comb in the rafters of the church. Containers were left under the drips and lots of honey collected.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Presentation to Rev. Barron on the occasion of his retirement in 1933. L to R: Lady Arbuthnott; Mr Carson, Headmaster; Mrs Barron; Rev Barron.']

Parish Ministers from 1850

1850-1903 Robert Moir Spence
1903-1912 Rev. Charles Dunn
1913-1920 Rev. Peter Dunn
1921-1925 Rev. John S. Mutch
1925-1933 Rev. Alfred S. Barron
1933-1945 Rev. Ambrose S. Russell
1945-1951 Rev. George A. Henderson
1951-1964 Rev. Gilbert Moore
1965-1966 Rev. G.R.M. Black
1967-1973 Rev. J.B. Deans
1974-1982 Rev. Ian Gough
1983-1986 Rev. T. Forrest-Smith
1987-1995 Rev. Connie Philp
1995- Rev. Alistair McKillop.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. John Bell Deans - Minister between 1967-1973.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. Ian Gough - Minister between 1974-1982.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Ordination and induction of Rev. Russell (centre) to Arbuthnott Church.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'St Mary's Mission Chapel, Parkneuk.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Nellie Riddoch outside St Mary's Mission Chapel.']

St Mary's Mission Chapel

An Episcopalian church referred to in old maps as St Mary's Mission Chapel was situated at Parkneuk, the walls of which can still be seen today. It is said that the church was a converted barn built by Mr. Charles Caird, a well known builder who at one time lived at Parkneuk. It is also known locally as the maids' kirk. At one time the service was taken by a Mr. Bell who walked there from Drumlithie. It is believed the church closed around 1912, although Nellie Riddoch, who was born in 1908, could remember hearing singing coming from it when she was a child.

The Fiddes District Church

[NOTE: Photo: 'The tin kirk - 1938.']

The Rev. Charles Dunn was responsible for the building of the Fiddes District Church in 1910. The kirk session records tell us that in "1909 it was proposed to erect a district Church on the North side of the parish. The site was secured and building work started. £113 came from the Rankine Fund". It was thought that would be sufficient to build the church but it actually cost £125 to build. Known as the 'tin kirk', because of its corrugated iron construction, Fiddes District Church was situated along the Reisk road towards Drumlithie where Fiddes Bungalow now stands. The first service was held on the 16th January 1910 at 3p.m. during which John Mutch Harrow was baptised. The session minutes record that in "1910 First Communion Service was held in the

Fiddes District Church" and "the Sunday School opened". Fortnightly services were held thereafter with the ministers of Arbuthnott, Glenbervie and Kinneff taking turns to conduct the services. At one time, because of the numbers attending Sunday school, it required the services of three Sunday school teachers, Miss Betsy Johnston, Dencroft Cottage, Drumlithie was organist from 1910 until 1922; she received an inscribed clock from the congregation when she retired. Miss Margaret Jamieson was organist in 1928 and later Mrs. Scimgeour, Bankhead, played as did Nellie Riddoch.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Inscription inside Fiddes District Church Bible.']

The church was only active for around 26 years as by 1936 the minutes record "Miss Strachan, secretary of Fiddes District Church resigned as she was leaving the area. No cleaner could be found and as the general situation there was not improving, the session will close Fiddes District Church in a month".

[NOTE: Photo: 'Newspaper cutting describing an explosion in the church bothy.']

The kirk session agreed with the presbytery committee's recommendation that the Fiddes District Church should be closed and the building sold. The last service was held on 20th December 1936 at 3pm. When the kirk closed, Nellie Riddoch's father bought the harmonium for her, which she treasured until her death. The building was sold in 1937 for £20 to William Lyon, Inverbervie.

Extracts from Arbuthnott Parish Church Session Minutes

1889 - The congregation was asked to vote on the issue of having instrumental music in the church. The result was 92 for and 5 against - 4 of which came from one family. One elder resigned because of the decision to have music. The organist was appointed on a salary of £6 per annum.

1900 - The Rev. Robert Moir Spence D.D. celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination and a celebratory lunch was held and gifts were presented to the Rev. and Mrs. Spence. In accepting these gifts Dr Spence concluded with the prayer:

"In the Temple above, may it be mine to be welcomed by many who have gone before, and in my turn, to welcome many who shall follow, to whom in that dear little church I have ministered here below"

Dr Spence preached for the last time in December 1902 and died in March 1903.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Inscription inside Rev. Spence's Bible presented to the church on his death.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. Robert Moir Spence - Minister between 1850-1903.']

1915 - Rev. P.A. Dunn offered to take over the charge at Laurencekirk Parish Church in the absence of Rev. J. Scott on military duty in France. The Rev. C. Dunn, his father, would reside in the parish of Laurencekirk, and they would share the work between them for the year April 1915 to April 1916.

1915 - The Rev. Dunn felt that it was his duty to enlist under Lord Derby's recruitment scheme.

1916 - Rev. Dunn intimated that his engagement at Laurencekirk had finished and asked leave to enter a somewhat similar arrangement at Fettercairn whose minister the Rev. Hunter had been called up for service as a chaplain.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. Peter Dunn, Minister between 1913 - 1920.']

1916 - The group in which the Rev. Dunn had been placed would shortly be called up and he had called a meeting to consider his leave of absence. It was agreed to appeal to the local tribunal for exemption on grounds that the parish would be left without a minister and that by the Military Act of 1916 ministers of religion were exempt. He received exemption on grounds of national interest.

1917 - By appointment of the King, a special service of thanksgiving was held. A number of the 'B' Company of the 1st Kincardineshire Volunteers Regiment was present.

1919 - August 3rd. A Divine Service was held in the Parish Church in memory of the fallen belonging to the parish. The bell tolled from 11.25 a.m. until 11.35 a.m. The Communion table and pulpit were draped with the national flag while flags of the allied nations hung from the roof. A wreath was placed on the communion table.

1924 - Miss Webster resigned as organist as, following her brother's accident, she would be leaving the area. Miss Crichton & Miss Ferrier applied for the post and were to be asked to play on Sundays 13th and 20th respectively. The congregation were asked to state their preference on slips of paper to be handed in after the service on the 30th. No mention is made of who was chosen but in 1934 Miss Crichton reported that the organ was out of tune. She resigned in 1934 after 10 years.

1928 - It was agreed to give Miss Margaret Jamieson £3 for her services as organist in Fiddes Church for the last two years as no acknowledgement had been given of her services during that time.

1933 - The Session met with the Women's Guild and agreed to the suggestion that the congregation should be divided up into as many areas as there are elders. Each elder should be personally responsible for his own area, as far as visiting the members and encouraging contributions from them.

1935 - Mrs Ethel Douglas was appointed organist at £13 per annum.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. Alfred Barron, Minister, 1925-1933.']

1937 - The session agreed to support Miss Stewart's application for a long service badge for 33 years membership of the Guild.

1940 - Miss Douglas resigned and Miss Riddoch was asked to undertake the duties of organist at £16 per annum.

1942 - This was the seven hundredth anniversary of the church and its consecration. A centenary service was planned.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. and Mrs Ambrose Russell - Minister between 1933-1945.']

"A leading part was taken by the Sunday School children in the singing of Praise, the reading of Scripture lessons along with the Minister, the repetition of the Creed and in the sung responses to the prayers. Their part was sustained with that beauty and artlessness of which children alone are capable and imparted to the Service throughout the fitting note of joy."

It was noted with interest that there was nothing in the kirk session minutes of 1942 to show that the centenary had been observed in any way at that time; the severe material distress prevalent in the parish and over the country generally as seen from parish records themselves, no doubt preventing any observance being made.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Newspaper article on the retirement of James Mutch as Church Officer after 41 years; 1950.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Newspaper report on presentation to James Mutch in Arbuthnott Hall.']

1945 - Congregation was given the opportunity of voting on women elders. Voting slips were sent to all members. The result: for 13, against 36. The session voted: for 3, against 2.

1946 - Efforts were made to revive the choir.

1947 - Mrs. Smith had sold between 400-500 Victory Calendars - proceeds to the restoration fund.

1948 - 22 children attending Sunday school and 10 at bible class.

1950 - Mr. James Mutch retired after 41 years as Church Officer. Miss M. Eccles was proposed as organ blower.

1953 - Miss H. Riddoch resumed playing the organ as Miss D. Jeans was going to college in Aberdeen.

1955 - Congregation given the opportunity to go to Montrose to hear the Rev Billy Graham, the American Evangelist.

1956 - James Stewart had started work and was no longer able to be the organ blower. James Hamilton was appointed.

1957 - Sunday school children to be taken to a film show in Montrose - Mr. Moore's treat

1960 - Mr Sam Smith offered a harmonium for use in the church on the condition that it would be returned to him if the church closed.

1961 - Mrs Smith was informed that some damage had been caused by mice to the organ gifted by them.

1965 - Praise board gifted to the church by Mrs. McDougall in memory of her husband.

1978 - Long-service certificates and gifts were made to Mr Wm Eccles, Pitcarles, elder since 1947; Miss Helen Riddoch, Dower Cottage, organist for more than 30 years; Mr & Mrs Alexander Jeans, Glencarron, Stonehaven, elder since 1934 and session clerk and treasurer since 1943.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev. G Moore - Minister between 1951-1964.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Sam Smith as a young man in the 1920s.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Long Service presentation in 1978. L to R: Wm Eccles; Nellie Riddoch; Ian Gough; Mrs Jeans; Alex Jeans.']

Arbuthnott Church Bequests

Kinloch Trust

William Kinloch was born in Arbuthnott in the second half of the 18th Century. He subsequently became a successful merchant in Calcutta and on his death there in July 1812 bequeathed to the kirk session, the sum of £3000. The bulk of his fortune was left to the Scotch Hospital in London to support those who had served in the Army and Navy.

"I do bequeath that the sum of Three Thousand pounds may be lodged in the British Funds or otherwise secured in perpetuity to run at interest and the interest annually to be paid and divided among the poor and indigent natives of the Parish of Arbuthnott, North Britain (which parish I was born)..."

The account books for the trust show that £300 was subtracted from the bequest for legacy duty, leaving the sum of £2700 which was passed by means of a heritable bond to the trustees for the Right Honourable John Viscount of Arbuthnott.

Over the years, the interest received from the bequest has been extremely beneficial for the relief of poverty of those born in the Parish of Arbuthnott. For example, for the quarter year ending August 1845 there were 55 recipients of financial support through the trust.

The Kinloch Trust is still in existence today having been amalgamated with other bequests over the years.

The Schoolmaster's Bequest

The Schoolmaster's Bequest was set up through the family of Arbuthnott as outlined in the following extract from the Kirk Session minute dated 17th May 1874:

"The moderator states that on the 14th inst. he had received from Mr Jackson as inspector of poor the sum of £111:2:3 sterling - the Parish Schoolmasters proportion of a Mortification by the family of Arbuthnott to the Kirk Session of Arbuthnott for behoof of the Schoolmaster and poor of the said Parish which sum had been held on loan from the Kirk Session by the Parochial Board from date. The moderator also stated that subject to the approval of the Kirk Session he had in the meantime deposited the said sum of £111:2:3 with the Scottish Heritable Security Company bearing interest for the next five years @ 4¾ per an."

Extract Kirk session minute 13th May 1893

"The moderator intimated that of the deposit of £133:6:8 referred to in the minute of 17th May 1874, there had been recovered from the Scottish Heritable Security Company in liquidation £74:10/-. To that amount the moderator had added £17:19/- being salary as treasurer of the Kinloch Charity inappropriated at Martinmas 1882, which with £17:11:9 of bank interest on the several items received from 16th July 1881 to 9th October 1891 amounted altogether to £112:0:9 being 18/6 beyond the £111:2:3 - the amount of the mortification by the family of Arbuthnott for the behoof of the Schoolmaster. In the meantime with the approval of the Session the money had been lodged in the North of Scotland Bank".

Further reference is made in the kirk session minute dated 11th May 1895 when at that time £100 of 3% Midland Railway company Debenture Stock was purchased leaving a balance of £5:19:5 (£6).

The session minutes of 16th September 1920 show £120 in 2½% Midland Railway Debenture Stock listed under the 'Schoolmaster'.

Later, £75 in 4% LMS Railway Debenture Stock seems to have produced twice yearly interest payments to Mr Carson at the Schoolhouse from December 1925 to July 1936.

The LMS Stock Certificate was handed over to the Secretary of Kincardineshire Educational Trust in October 1936 under section 21 of the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act 1928, and is now administered by them. There is no further activity in this fund in Arbuthnott.

Allardice Mortification

The Allardice Mortification was a small legacy received from the estate of Robert Barclay Allardice for the relief of poverty for those living on Allardice Estate. The remaining funds were passed on to the Arbuthnott Parochial Board in 1895.

Extract kirk session minute 12th January 1873.

"The property of Allardice having now being sold the Trustees of the late Robert Barclay Allardice have paid to the Kirk Session the sum of twenty two pounds four shillings and five pence sterling the amount of Mortification by family of Allardice for behoof of the poor on the Estate of Allardice. The Session agreed that in the meantime the money should be lodged in the North of Scotland Bank, Bervie - the annual interest to be lifted and applied as hitherto".

Extract from the kirk session minute 17th May 1874 (following the extract for Schoolmasters Bequest above)

"He (the moderator) had at the same time, in the same company, and at the same terms (as the Schoolmaster Bequest) deposited the sum of £22:4:5 sterling - the amount of Mortification by the family of Allardice for behoof of poor".

Extract from kirk session minute 11th May 1895 (following the extract for Schoolmasters Bequest above).

"£6 was handed over in part payment of dividend recovered on the Allardice Mortification... That the whole amount of dividend of 11/6½ per £ on said sum of £22:4:5 was £12:13:11...the said sum of £12:13:11 had been handed over by him (the moderator) to the Parochial Board."

Rankin Bequest

The bequest of Mr James Rankin, Auchendreich, after his death in or about 1875 seems to have consisted of freehold property consisting of five or six rented apartments in Bervie.

"To the Minister and Kirk Session for the time of the Parish of Arbuthnott and their successors in office by Mr James Rankin formerly tenant of the farm of Auchendreich in the Parish of Arbuthnott for Religious, educational and charitable purposes within the said parish."

Between the years 1875 and 1902 various distributions were made out of an annual rental income varying between £16 and £25. In 1904 it was resolved that the property, then needing a deal of repair, should be sold and the proceeds invested. The property fetched £255. This sum was invested in shares and subsequently in 1909 part of the investment - £113 - was realised to meet the cost of the building of the Fiddes District Church. The Fiddes Church was eventually sold in 1937 for £20.

The remaining stock was amalgamated with the Kinloch Trust around 1960 and both registered as Scottish Charities. In 1988 the stock was redeemed and invested in the Church of Scotland Income Fund.

Smith Bequest

The Smith bequest to the kirk session of Arbuthnott by the late James M. Smith Esq., Boston, USA in May 1895 consisted of £100.

"To the Kirk Session of the Parish of Arbuthnott, Scotland one hundred pounds sterling to be kept as a permanent fund, the income to be annually expended; first in cutting the grass and planting flowers on the graves of my father and mother who are buried in the church yard of the said parish, and in keeping the fence around their lot and the monument therein in good condition; and next if any annual income shall remain unexpended to distribute such balance among the poor of the said parish (widows to be preferred) no beneficiary to receive more than 10 shillings in any one year"

These requests were fulfilled for the next 80 years bearing in mind that from 1920 the District Council became responsible for the upkeep on the churchyard but not necessarily individual graves. The stock was redeemed in 1988 and the proceeds invested in the Church of Scotland Income Fund, the interest from which now goes to the Kinloch Trust.

Reid Bequest

The Reid Bequest to the Minister and elders of the kirk session of Arbuthnott by Mr W M Reid, Townhead consisted of £20.

"To the Minister and Elders of the Kirk Session of Arbuthnott the sum of twenty pounds sterling the yearly interest of which are to be expended by them for assisting to uphold and maintain the Church yard of Arbuthnott in a decent condition. I will be pleased to know that the said sum is invested in the British War Loan of this year so that our good wishes may point in two directions."

The small amount of interest seems to have been used partly for the churchyard but also for the relief of poverty during the war years. No further use of the fund was made after 1927 when the interest was paid into the Cruikshank & Suttie account at the Bervie Savings Bank. The interest now goes into the Kinloch Trust.

Cruickshank & Suttie Bequest

The kirk session minute dated 14th August 1918 includes reference to the following bequest from Mr Clark Suttie.

"The sum of £100 to be invested by the Kirk Session in National War Bonds, interest of the same to go towards the proper up keep and repairs in all time coming of the burial ground of the Cruickshank & Suttie families, in the Church yard of Arbuthnott and not less than the sum 7/6 in anyone year to be expended on the same and the balance of revenue to such purposes connected with the Church or Church yard as the Trustees think fit".

The kirk session minute dated 20th June 1926 agreed the following:

"The Kirk Session of Arbuthnott pay over to the Parish Council of Arbuthnott the sum of one pound sterling per annum for the upkeep of the Cruickshank & Suttie lairs in the Arbuthnott Church yard. This sum of money shall only be for keeping the lairs in a tidy condition and any expenses for cleaning, painting or repairing the two tombstones or kerb would be in addition".

Organ Fund

The kirk session minute dated 17th February 1919 includes reference to setting up an organ fund with interest from the Rankin Bequest.

"The moderator intimated that he had in his possession a Savings Bank Book No 2659 Stonehaven Savings Bank, Bervie Branch with a balance of £8:10:7 in hand as no former minute of Kirk Session referred to this it was agreed to minute that this sum paid over from the Rankine Bequest be for an Organ Fund (see Rankine Bequest account 1st May 1912)".

Bisset Bequest

Little is known about the Bisset Bequest except from the kirk session minute from 12th February 1924 which states:

"The legacy from the estate of the late Miss Bisset amounted, after death duties had been paid, to £17:19:2. With this sum he (the moderator) had purchased 5% War Stock to the amount of £17:2:6".

In Conclusion

It was decided at session meetings held on 12th September 1988 and 31st October 1989 that the bequests of Cruickshank & Suttie, Smith and Bisset should be invested and administered in a similar way to the Kinloch Trust bearing in mind that sometime around 1960 the Rankin bequest was amalgamated with the Kinloch Trust funds. In 1927 a similar amalgamation of funds was made between the Reid and Cruickshank & Suttie bequests which were set up for similar charitable purposes.

The session has sought to make more finance available by restructuring the investments and modernising their management by getting out of undated Government stocks that were previously the only form of stock-holding and putting the sums realised into funds that do have a term and can therefore be redeemed at maturity or being in unit trusts can be redeemed at any time. All this is possible while interest is still paid and, in all cases, the capital is secure and has a growth potential.

In 1995 the remaining capital from all the above bequests was invested as follows:

1) 5½% Treasury Stock 2008/12 - value £1117.59
2) 107 units of Church of Scotland Trust Income Fund - value £816.63

[NOTE: Newspaper article extracts here in original]

[NOTE: Photo: 'James Riddoch as a young man.']

The Church of Scotland Womans Guild - Arbuthnott Branch

The following are excerpts from the minutes of Arbuthnott Womans Guild

1913 - It was unanimously agreed that the portrait of the Rev. Charles Dunn would be hung in the Guild room in the Parish Hall.

1915 - At the Guild meeting the Sunday School children performed the Missionary Alphabet. Thanks had been received from the Foreign Missions for the sleeping suits members had made and sent to Ichax Hospital in China.

1916 - Letters had been received from nine soldiers for parcels that they had received from the Guild. Sewing and knitting was to be done at regular Guild meetings. Forty-one pairs of socks were sent to the Scottish Horse Comforts Depot.

1923 - Garments for the Sick Children's Hospital to be bought and sewn at the Guild. The President to purchase a paraffin heater for the Guild and it was to be hired out to any committee for use in the Hall.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Rev Charles Dunn - Minister between 1903-1912.']

1927 - The Guild undertook the payment of all contributions to the schemes of the Church so that the envelope collection at Communion would be available for the next congregational expenses.

1930 - Miss Munro, College of Agriculture, gave an interesting talk on Poultry.

1931 - At the sale of work in 1931 several gifts were promised for the prize draw - one of which was the Guild sewing machine!

1932 - Mrs Cruickshank, the Manse, Kinneff, gave a demonstration on wool and rag rugs.

1933 - Guild members agreed to send a regular supply of eggs to Miss Cameron, Church Sister, in Dundee for distribution in her district.

Owing to the local bus service having been curtailed, it was decided that the secretary should make arrangements for a hired conveyance to take the ladies to the Echo Meeting in Laurencekirk.

1934 - A special meeting was called to ask if it was possible for the Guild to give a loan of £5 to the Vacancy Committee. It was agreed that the £5 set aside for Guild necessities be given. Rev. A Russell said that he had been asked by Mr. Carson if the Guild would consider giving a prize to the Dux pupil of the school. It was agreed to leave it meantime. The school prize was discussed at a later meeting and it was agreed to give three prizes for Scripture knowledge - one for each division. The value of the prizes was 2/6, 2/- and 1/-.

1936 - A cake icing demonstration was given by Mrs Clark, Arbuthnott House. The cake was sold in sections and raised 4/-.

1937 - Miss Stewart was presented with a certificate and long service badge. She had been a member of the Guild for 33 years - since its inception - and had never missed one meeting. Lady Arbuthnott gave a talk on the Coronation and showed the members the invitation that had been sent to Lord Arbuthnott and her, commanding them to be present. Lord and Lady Arbuthnott then dressed in their Coronation robes and coronets.

1939 - Sale of Work to be held on 14th October.

Owing to the outbreak of war, the sale had to be postponed by one week.

December - The Guild agreed to form themselves into a War Work Guild. Various classes of work were given out.

1945 - It was decided to resume monthly meetings of the Guild in October. The monthly meetings had been cut to once a year when the Guild formed a War Work Party.

1947 - Ministry of Food to give a demonstration in January. It was cancelled due to bad weather. It was later held in April.

January and February were very stormy months and the meetings had to be cancelled.

It was decided not to hold January and February meetings next year.

Lady Arbuthnott gave a vivid word picture of her experiences while in London for the Royal wedding.

1948 - It was resolved to make a collection of waste paper for Guild funds. Milltown was to be the collecting point. Local boys would call for it when possible.

1949 - Guild meeting was held at Allardyce Castle. Mr. Rae Peter showed Fibro yarn in various stages. He gifted a rug and scarf for Guild funds. Each member received a bundle of knitting yarn. Correspondence was received re forming a friendly link with Stracathro should petrol become more plentiful; Arbuthnott might join at a later date.

1956 - The 50th anniversary of the Guild was celebrated by a church service on the 8th April. A tea party followed by a concert was held on the 12th April. Mrs Jeans cut the cake, as Miss Archibald was unable to be there.

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott Woman's Guild outside Arbuthnott Hall - 1950. Back row L to R: Mrs Garden; Mrs Jeans snr; Mrs Finnie; Mrs Stewart; Mrs Jeans jnr. Far back in doorway Miss Blackwood. Second row: Mrs McLean; Miss Maggie Stewart; Mrs Russell; Mrs Reid. Front row: Miss Roberts; Mrs Strachan; Rev. Russell; Mrs Ross.]

[NOTE: Photo: 'Right: Nellie Riddoch.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Below left: Jean Middleton (twin sister to Robert Middleton, Hareden) with her husband J. Ramsay, and children. They emigrated to Alaska.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Below right: Doug Fife, Mary and Arch Middleton at the Angus Show in 1948.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Robert Middleton, Hareden, prior to the 1st World War.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'The Reid family from the Laes. Back, left to right: David, Isabella, Charles, Ethel, James. Front: Violet, David snr, Mrs Maggie Reid (nee Middleton), Hilda, Edith, and George in front.']

Reference material consulted in the preparation of this book:

Arbuthnott Kirk Session Minutes
Arbuthnott Women's Guild Minutes
Arbuthnott Hall Committee/Community Association Minutes and Account Book
Arbuthnott School Register

Arbuthnott by George Clark Suttie
The Kirk of St Ternan by George A Henderson
The Lairds of Arbuthnott by Christy Bing

The Stonehaven Journal
The Mearns Leader
The Kincardineshire Observer

[NOTE: Photo: 'Mr Arch Greig senior being presented to HRH the Queen Mother by John Arbuthnott in 1963. Arch was grieve at the Home Farm between 1921 and 1961. When he retired, his son, also Arch, took over Grandson Ken is the current grieve.']

[NOTE: Photo: 'Arbuthnott reminiscence group in 1999. Left to right: Mrs Anderson, Mrs Fowlie, Katy Heath, Mrs Dey, Mrs Thompson, Mrs Liz Bruce, Miss Dallas, Mrs Mary Williamson, Mrs Barclay, Mrs Armatage, Mrs Black, Mrs Hall, Mr and Mrs Duncan Mathieson.']

Books held at the Grassic Gibbon Centre

Arbuthnott Parish Church:
Large Bible - (loose leather dust jacket; Fiddes Church 1910; originally Camrie Parish 1864)
Large Bible - (no inscription)
Large Bible - (inscribed Rev. Robert Moir Spence 1890; renovation of Church)
Cash Book 1886 -1982
Property Register 1957 -1988
Visitor Books 1934 -1967; 1967 -1971; 1971 -1976; 1976-1979; 1979 -1989
Communicants Roll Books 1877 -1902; 1904 -1919; 1920 -1946; 1952 -1974
Kirk Session Minute Books 1865 -1935; (including Baptismals 1889 -1912); 1935 -1959; 1958 -1982
Register of Proclamations 1856 -1978

Kinloch Trust:
Cash Book and Records 1857 -1893; 1894 -1939; 1940 -1993
Cash Book 1814 -1842; 1842 -1876
Cash Book and Records, 1876 -1906
Treasurer's Book 1861 -1965
Smith Bequest Account Book 1895 -1967
Reid Bequest Accounts 1915 -1927
Schoolmaster Bequest Accounts 1925 -1936
Rankin Bequest Account Book 1875 -1967
Record of Church Burial positions 1819 -1879 (very poor condition)
Registry of Burials 1817 -1877 (very poor condition)

Arbuthnott Hall:

Minute Book 1940 -1995
Account Book 1910-1966


Bervie and Arbuthnott Reading Society 1883 -1938
Scottish Sunday School Union 1927 -1947
Kinneff & Catterline Parochial Board Minute 1845 -1864
Kinneff Parochial Board Minutes 1864 -1874
Arbuthnott Parochial Board Minutes 1860 -1874
Arbuthnott School Register 1874 -1973
Arbuthnott School Library Book 1907 -1921
Blacksmith's Account Book 1918

Arbuthnott WRI:

Minute Book 1966 -1982
Committee Minute Book 1966 -1989

Arbuthnott family tree

At various times throughout the 'Annals of Arbuthnott' reference is made to Lord and Lady Arbuthnott. The following will help the reader recognise who is being referred to at a given time.

1860 - 1891
9th Viscount
John married to Jane
Four children

1891 - 1895
10th Viscount
John (son of 9th Viscount) - married to Harriet
No children

1895 - 1912
11th Viscount
David (son of 9th Viscount) - not married

1912 - 1917
12th Viscount I
William (son of 9th Viscount) - not married

1917 - 1920
13th Viscount
Walter (Charlie) (first cousin of 12th Viscount) - married to Marion
Two children

1920 - 1960
14th Viscount
John (Jack) (son of 13th Viscount) - married to Dorothy
No children

1960 - 1966
15th Viscount
Robert (Keith) (second cousin of 14th Viscount) - married to Ursula
Four children

1966 -
16th Viscount
John (son of 15th Viscount) - married to Mary
Two children

The following are amendments to the original text.

Page 99
Robert E Walker
The medal he received posthumously was the 'Medaille Militaire' not the 'Croix de Guerre'.

Page 111
Harry Anderson
Lived at Bankhead not Denhead.
He did not emigrate to Canada as stated. He died from the effects of being a prisoner of war and his memorial stone is in Arbuthnott Churchyard.

Page 142
Photograph of Arbuthnott Woman's Guild outside Arbuthnott Hall - the date of the photograph is pre 1945 not 1950. The exact date is unknown.

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

The Annals of Arbuthnott Part One. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 16 April 2024, from

MLA Style:

"The Annals of Arbuthnott Part One." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 16 April 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Annals of Arbuthnott Part One," accessed 16 April 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1375

The Annals of Arbuthnott Part One


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Teenagers (13-17)
General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 2001
Word count 23042
General description Local history

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Arbuthnott Community Association Reminiscence Group
Publication year 2001
Place of publication Arbuthnott
ISBN/ISSN 0953947009
Edition 1st

Text setting


Text type

Prose: nonfiction


Author details

Author id 933
Forenames Isabella
Surname Williamson
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Manager
Place of birth Nairn
Region of birth Nairn
Birthplace CSD dialect area Nai
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Arbuthnott
Region of residence Kincardine
Residence CSD dialect area Kcdn
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Farm worker
Father's place of birth Arbuthnott
Father's region of birth Kincardine
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Kcdn
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Daily life, work and home
Scots No No No Yes At work