Gladsmuir Longniddry | Gordon Morrison – interview transcript

Gordon Morrison, age c. 75, farmer at Longniddry Farm; born c 1925, married 1950.


I interviewed Mr Morrison on 18th June 2001 for approximately an hour. His wife was also present for much of the interview. Unfortunately the recording of the interview is so poor that much of it is very difficult to make out, and interested parties would be well advised to go straight to the transcription.

Mr Morrison took over the farm on the death of his father in 1946 and is still farming there. He has therefore seen sweeping changes in agricultural practices, and also in the village of Longniddry itself.

Mr Morrison is not a loquacious man, but he gives valuable insights into crops, livestock, the workforce, and ways of working in the Forties and Fifties, when the population of the farm was such that it could field a football team. He mentions farm kirns, the local smiddy, and the frolics of seasonal Irish workers in the Sixties. He also comments on the gradual encroachment of housing on “some of the best land in East Lothian” since the First World War.

I have appended a summary of the farm grieve’s diary for 1950, and 2 photostats of the diary for 9-11 January 1950, and July 17-19 1950 – see separate documents.

D. M. Robertson 2001

Gordon Morrison, farmer at Longniddry Farm since 1946. Interviewed by D. M. Robertson 18th June 2001.

DR (You’ve been farming here) as long as I remember. Did you grow up on Longniddry Farm?

GM Yes. We came here in 1932. I went to Longniddry School.

DR Your father farmed Longniddry Farm before you?

GM Yes, that’s right.

DR When did you take over from him?

GM Well, he died in forty … six? Forty-six. I left school when I was fourteen.

DR Did you go to agricultural college or anything? Or just …

GM No.

DR … straight in at the deep end.

Mrs M The Royal High School.

GM Mm hmm. Aye. And then the War came and of course we had to go to Preston Lodge … for half days … and well … I’m wasting my time here so I just leftschool and came home.

DR How old were you then?

GM Fourteen.

DR And were you running the farm at that time?

GM No, that was in nineteen thirty nine … forty.

Mrs M Father died in forty-six.

GM Aye. I left school in forty.

DR Aye, so …

Mrs M You were twenty when your father died.

DR You would be running the place at the age of twenty then?

GM Oh yes.

Mrs M There was Mr Finlayson.

GM Mr Finlayson used to be at Harelaw.

DR Oh aye. That was the artist, wasn’t it?

Mrs M That was his brother.

GM His brother was the artist. He used to come along and keep me right.

DR You would have a grieve in these days?

GM We had a grieve in these days.

DR I suppose an experienced grieve would be …

GM Oh yes, oh aye.

DR … pretty much able to do it himself.

GM More or less.

DR So if we’re thinking of when you took over, could you go through the farm year … the progression of the crops … and the work … a summary, if you like.

Mrs M You’ve got one of your diaries.

GM There’s a 1950 diary that’ll show you all that was going on, if you can read it. But … emm … we always employed about fourteen or fifteen people …here.

Mrs M (Inaudible remark about the grieve.)

DR So this is the diary of the farm work, and the grieve would write it up every day?

GM Everyday.

DR It would take so long to read this through we’d be finished the tape just going over that! What are the main differences between then and now?

GM Then and now? Now we have one man.

DR Does he live on the farm?

GM No, nobody on the farm.

DR How many cottages are there on the farm?

GM There’s four … well, now there’s these two at the bottom of course … but that’s something else (i.e.”Gwen’s Gifts and Garden Furniture”) …and the two over here, but … we have two cottages … and four up there. The Longniddry Inn, these were all farm cottages.

DR These were workers for Longniddry Farm that lived there as well?

GM The car park behind there, that was their gardens.

DR Aye, I remember that. So when you started off you had fourteen full-time …

GM Eight or nine men and three or four women. All the time.

DR And now you’ve got one!

Mrs M How many horses did you have?

GM Four pairs. Four pairs of horses and an odd horse. And then mares breeding as well.

DR Did you? So you bred your own horses. Was this the traditional way where each ploughman looked after his own horses?

GM Oh yes. Very much so.

DR How did his day go, you know, the typical ploughman? What time of the morning would he get up?

GM The horses were fed at six in the morning, and they started roughly half past seven, and then stop at quarter past eleven in these days, and lunch till one … that’sto give the horses more rest! Ha ha! And then from one till five. And quarter past eleven on a Saturday.

DR Saturday was a half day. So, these men would not just feed their horses, but groom them and everything?

GM Oh yes. Polish harness … talk.

DR Talk?

GM You used to come up at night … go down to the stable at night … and they’d all be sitting in the stable, smoking pipes and having a chat.

DR So it wasnae the case that at the end of the day you’d had enough of farm work and you wanted away home out of the road … they came back to the stable.

GM Oh, they all came back. At the weekend sometimes the Hogg laddie, he would come up and feed the horses in the morning so that they’d get a long lie.

DR So when did the last horses go? How many pairs did you say you had? Four pairs and an odd horse?

GM Four pairs and an odd horse, working.

DR Did they all go at once … or was it a gradual …

GM Oh yes, they used to all go out at once.

Mrs M No, but …

GM Four pairs and four men would go away to plough. Or cart dung or cart turnips.

Mrs M But when you got rid of the horses …

DR Aye. When you got rid of the horses did you just get rid of them all at the same time, or was it a gradual process?

GM No no. We got an iron wheeled tractor. I don’t know if you remember Adam Greenlaw? He got the tractor.

DR I remember Adam Greenlaw.

GM Remember Adam? He got an iron wheeled tractor.

DR When would that be?

Mrs M That’s when we got married … he had the David Brown.

GM … When I was working. I would probably be about seventeen. I got the first rubber tyred tractor.

DR That was the farmer’s privilege then, to drive the new tractor.

GM Ha ha! No hoods, no cabs on them.

DR Kin’ o cold job that, I would think.

GM It was a cold tractor the Brown. The Fordson was okay because you sat away down on top of the engine. And the heat of course used to come up …

DR So when did your last horse go?

Mrs M I mean, I remember, Sommerville was it? That was the stallion. That was after we were married.

GM We were still breeding the horses, when we broke one and had it for four years. Had it broken in, took it to Lanark to the market to sell, and we got fifty pounds for it. AndI thought to myself, to hang with that!

DR It wasnae worth the bother.

GM Not worth the bother. Better breeding cattle. So that’s when we stopped.

DR So it would be about fifty-five then, that the last horses went? I can remember them ploughing wi’ horses. I can remember Adam Greenlaw ploughing with a pair of horses in the wee field opposite the Prefabs there.

Mrs M I was in building (?). I helped at the harvest when they were bringing in the stooks. That was horses.

GM That was when we got married. Fifty-one years tomorrow! Ha ha

DR Aye, really? Now, somebody said that when you got married you had your reception in the granary, or the barn was it?

Mrs M We had a kirn!

DR You had a kirn.

GM It was a kirn. And the men had a holiday on the Saturday. Ha ha!

DR To celebrate the wedding. So when you had that kirn, was there music for dancing?

GM Oh yes, we used to have the Johnstons, Alec and Nicol. The Johnstons used to come. Or Chrissie Letham. Remember Letham’s band? The women used to scrub the place. We used to have kirns regularly, and then during the war we ran them for the Red Cross. We charged folk to come in. (Inaudible remark about charging from Mrs M)

DR Really? So there would be regular dances. And was it the granary, or was it a barn?

GM It was in the granary. We used to put props underneath it. The floor used to rise and fall like that. And we used to prop it all up underneath …

DR In case folk went crashing through it.

GM Aye. Ha ha!

DR How many people would you get

GM On a fairly … a hundred … about a hundred.

Mrs M And they used to come from all the other farms, to these things.

DR Aye, so I’ve heard. And they would go on till the early hours of the morning.

GM Oh yes. Oh yes.

DR I mean I’ve heard stories about folk going to kirns, and going on till five or six in the

morning, and go home, wash their faces, and back out to the fields.

GM Out to work! Aye, ha ha!

Mrs M Everybody had a kirn at the end of the harvest. It was a kind of harvest home.

DR Yes. When would be the last kirn that you had?

Mrs M Our wedding.

GM Our wedding.

DR That was the last?

Mrs M That was the last.

GM I think mainly because the Irish workers, we used to employ them, and of course they got the granary. We had to divide it up, supposed to separate the men from the women. Ha ha!

DR So the Irish workers were using the granary as a dormitory, if you like.

GM Aye.

DR So why were the Irish workers coming here?

GM For potatoes.

DR Aye. I mean, I know that, but the listeners might … How many of them would you get in a squad?

GM About thirty or so.

DR Men and women?

GM Men and women.

DR children come as well?

GM No. No. No children. They’d maybe go home with children! But no children. Ha ha!

DR So how would you get a squad like that? Was there a middle man that you phoned up or contacted?

GM There used to be what they called “gaffers”, and they would come round – were you needing anybody? Folk would say, “Oh yes,” and they got them. Well, the last lots would be (inaudible) get the squad with the gaffer, and they (inaudible) the one that fitted us. And he just walked out, and he would (inaudible) were hard hard taskmasters.

DR I think some of these Irish workers were kin’ o’ poor souls sometimes. Certainly the ones that were along there at Harelaw latterly, there were some poor looking souls …

GM They were some of the ones we used to have.

DR Is that right? And did they have cooking facilities … running water … toilets … and all that?

GM Oh yes, yes. We had the bothy on the drive there, you would pass it on the way up. That was the bothy, it had a great big cooker. It was just potatoes. That’ s all they had. Ha ha! Of course when the pub started in the village that was a terrible thing!

DR I can mind them. They used to collapse in there, and everything!

Mrs M In the Inn?

GM Aye … Oh, there’s no problem now.

DR So you must have grown a fair amount of potatoes in these days?

GM Oh yes. We had a hundred acres of potatoes in these days. None now.

DR None? Why do you not bother now?

GM Well, it’s completely mechanised. And the price of machines is … We had tattie machines, but there was nothing in the potatoes, and we lost (inaudible).

DR Really? So that’s a thing that you would have grown up until, what, twenty years ago?

Mrs M More. When the grieve retired.

GM P(?) (E?) registration on the cars. The years before that. (Exchange with Mrs M, mostly inaudible) … Stevenson stopped … we were selling them at ten pounds a ton … and he lowered …

Mrs M The grieve retired, and it was a matter of taking on another grieve or not, and (inaudible)

GM And two or three of the men retired as well and … You have in here ( i.e. in the question sheet I had sent him beforehand) about men leaving. Well, our men very seldom moved.

DR That’s what I thought, actually, as far as I could remember. But a lot of them on other farms used to. They would come and go sometimes every six months.

GM That’s right. Ah well, yes, there was a break in the term.

DR Certainly when I was a wee boy at Longniddry school there was always some floating

members in the class that were farm bairns, that kind of came and went.

So, the potatoes are a thing that you grew at one time that you don’t grow now. Is there anything else that you would have grown about, say, the 1950s that you wouldnae think of doing now?

GM Certainly we stopped growing turnips. We don’t feed the cattle turnips nowadays. The mangolds, that’s another thing. And sugar beet’s another thing, because of course the factory closed in Cupar.

DR In Cupar, aye. I can remember railway wagons the sugar beet used to lie in.

GM That’s right, aye. We used to put them on …

Mrs M And oats.

GM Aye, well, yes, we grew oats. We used to grow them for seed. But then the horses had to get oats. We had to grow quite a lot of oats to feed the horses.

DR I suppose that made a difference if you were growing your own feed. You know, you mentioned the turnips, and then the oats. Your expenses in buying things in wouldnae be so much as a farmer would have nowadays.

GM Well, like, we didn’t grow our own. We grew them for seed and then we sold them.

DR Oh, I see.

GM You always buy in new seed. Now it’s mainly barley and wheat. Barley and wheat, that’s what we grow, and rape.

DR So you may say that nowadays you’ve got three crops – barley, wheat, and …

GM That’s just about it. Just about it.

DR Is that the winter wheat and barley, you know, that you’d be sowing in the….

GM Winter wheat, spring barley. And we grow winter barley down at Craigielaw there. That’s all feeding. That goes to the pigs.

DR That’s Norman’s pigs. (GM‘s eldest son Norman, at Kidlaw)

GM Norman. We send that all up to Norman. And we use it here for the cattle as well. Mainly all winter barley.

DR During the 1950s you would have grown oats, you would have grown potatoes, you would have grown turnips, mangolds, sugar beet. Of course am I fight in thinking that back in the 1950s wheat and barley would be all spring sown?

GM Eh … winter … Wheat’s sown in the winter. Always sown after you lift potatoes.

DR Back in the Fifties as well?

GM Oh yes.

DR I’m showing my ignorance!

GM Ha ha! It’s a year in the ground, wheat.

DR Is it?

GM Uh huh. Aye. Sown first going on September … September/October, and harvested the next September/October.

DR I was just thinking about the differences in methods between then and now. A lot of your potato crop in these days would go into pits.

GM Yes. In fact you would see in that diary, men were covering potato pits, going with shovels. Aye, there was nothing … latterly we kept some in the sheds. That was a new idea to put potatoes in sheds. You laid them down the side of the walls and covered them. That was all inside work. They’re all inside nowadays.

DR So I believe. There’s no such a thing as a tattie pit. Were you ever bothered when you had tattie pits with people coming and digging their way into the end of them?

GM Touch wood, no. I know plenty people who were!

DR Aye, well, that’s why I was wondering. Aye now, that’s a thing I wondered about. When you had so many families living on the farm, were the children ever a problem? Getting into places they shouldnae have been?

GM Well … I suppose … I can certainly remember being down myself among the cattle with half a dozen of the kids, you know, and father down there with his stick, and every one of them got walloped when we came out. Ha ha! But, other than that you know, we could raise a football team here.

DR Really? Just with the men that …

GM Aye … Just with the boys of the place. A match with the Farm against the Village.

DR I suppose with the number of workers you had, and their wives, and their families, must have made a fair population here.

GM Uh huh. Oh … you know the Honeysetts … they had four boys there. The Greenlaws, they had one … two boys there. Oh, there was … ha ha … the Andersons …

DR Oh, I mind the Andersons. They were quite a crew!

GM The Andersons?

DR You were mentioning about being in the cattle there. What sort of head of cattle would you have nowadays?

GM Well, we’ve got far more cattle now …

DR You’ve got more than you had then?

GM … had then, because we breed our own. And you know we keep a hundred cows.

DR Where are they? They’re not here are they?

GM They’re here all winter, and the calves. And now they’re away up to Kidlaw to the hills.

DR Oh, right.

GM And we bring them down in November. The calves will probably be down in November

and they stay out in the Policies down in Gosford and fatten them up. In these days it was all Irish cattle you fattened.

DR Was it? So you’re breeding cattle here, and you’re fattening cattle here, so this is primarily for beef, is it?

GM Oh yes. Just for beef.

DR Aye. I mean, you’ve no dairying operation. Did you ever have any sort of dairying operation?

GM One cow! We used to keep one.

Mrs M One cow for the house.

GM A Jersey cow.

Mrs M And it worked out at three.

DR Did you milk that, or did somebody else do that for you?

Mrs M No I didn’t. Gordon’s mother said to me, “Never learn to milk the cow, because the men’ll not come back … (inaudible).”

DR Oh right.

Mrs M It was John Reid that milked the cow all the time.

GM Latterly we got a wee … an automatic machine. I mean, anybody could milk the cow, but the cow knew if it wasn’t the right person.

DR And it wouldnae …

GM It wouldnae give the milk.

Mrs M We gave all the people in the cottages on the farm the milk as well.

DR Did you?

Mrs M Aye.

GM When it was there. Thing was, the cow would go dry so you’d have to buy another one; then of course you had two cows, and before you know where you were you had two dry cows …

Mrs M We’d three!

GM … and then you had three! You’d have a flood of milk and you didn’t know what to do with a.

DR Better than none, I suppose.

GM Well.

DR So this has always been quite big on cattle, then, at Longniddry?

GM Oh yes. We’ve always had cattle.

DR I can mind you having sheep at one time.

GM Well, we used to have sheep. My father used to have sheep. When we came down from Quarryford we had sheep. But other than that, it was we let people have sheep. We grew turnips for them.

DR Right. So they would rent the ground off you to put sheep on?

GM Yes. they’d pay so much a week for sheep.

DR I can remember when I was a wee boy in Amisfield Place, before they built: Wemyss Road, I can remember sheep in that field. That must have been in the late Forties, I think.

GM These would be Dan’s sheep. There’d be turnips in there or something.

Mrs M In the late Forties? … (inaudible exchange) … Nineteen forties? No! That would be the man, what’s his name? …

GM Walker.

Mrs M Walker. Two brother Walkers. They had sheep all over East Lothian.

GM When did Dan have sheep there?

Mrs M The Sixties.

GM Anyhow, I know they got into one … Stuart Mackintyre’s garden and of course he was very irate!

DR He wouldnae be too pleased about that.

GM And Dan went down, and said, quite fortunately it was … he said it didn’t do them any harm. Ha ha ha.’

DR What about pigs? Did you ever have …

GM Yup. We used to keep … (inaudible exchange with Mrs M) … I don’t know where the …

Mrs M I gave it to Norman.

GM … (inaudible) … thing with a pig on it but it’s disappeared.

DR So these were prizewinning pigs on occasion!

GM Of course Norman’s got I don’t know how many pigs now.

DR Aye, that’s his speciality, isnt it?

Mrs M It was a pig farm.

DR You’ve always had cattle, you’ve had pigs … When would be the last time you had pigs?

GM About twenty years ago.

DR But it’s your son that’s the pigman now.

GM Yes.

DR And you bred horses at one time. And you’ve always had cattle here and you’re still in the business of breeding them.

GM Oh yes. Cattle are quite a big part of this place.

DR Just to change tack a bit … Thinking of the grain harvest; now, the grain harvest has changed a wee bit, you might say, from the early Fifties to the present day. Can you just highlight for me the differences between the grain harvest in, say, 1950 and nowadays?

GM Well, the grain used to be … when it was ready we used to cut it and stook it, which took (inaudible) usually.

DR Now, what was it cut with?

GM We used to cut it with a binder. And stook it. The binder ties it, you know? You know? Ha ha!

DR Aye. But folk listenin tae this mightnae realise!

GM And then it was carted in, and we used to have four stacks being built at the same time. And there were four pairs of horses. Two horses carting to the one stack. And the person in the field was usually a woman forking sheaves onto the cart

DR I’ve a picture of that, a photograph of that in the house.

GM There’s the binder up there. (Photo on the wall)

DR Oh aye. Now, I have a copy of that. I don’t know where I got that.

Mrs M You got it from us when you were doing something. That’s Gordon’s brother Graham there, and I think it’s Joe Honeysett.

GM That’s Joe Honeysett with his pair of horses.

DR So it was all carted in to … So you would build stacks in the farmyard.

GM And in the fields!

DR Out in the fields as well?

GM I think that was mainly done in case there was a fire, and you didn’t lose the whole lot.

DR So what time of the year would that be, because the harvest would be … Was it not later in these days?

GM August/September.

Mrs M It took longer.

GM Well, it took six weeks, we used to reckon.

DR I can remember when I was a wee boy going down the Lyars there, and there were stooks in the fields there for months, and they were sprouting and growing green up through the sheaves and everything. It must have been a particularly wet …

GM It was a terrible job sometimes when the stooks, they were wet and we’d all be sent to go and knock them all down to let the wind get in to dry them. And then we had to go and set them all up again. Ha ha!

DR So after, when the stooks had all dried out properly, and they were carted in and built into stacks; after that am I right in thinking that every now and again over the next few months you would be threshing them?

GM A travelling mill would come in.

DR Was threshing ad done at the same time, or was it just done every now and again when you got an order for grain?

GM More or less that. We didn’t do it all at once. We had a mill built in. Into the steading.

DR Aye, I’ve heard of that. Was that a water-driven mill?

GM Yes, but …

DR And was that used in your time?

GM No. It was used, but with an electric motor.

DR Ah, right.

GM We had a big electric motor put in. And we still used the water wheel. We don’t use it now … we used it … I remember using it to bruise corn and rape cake, and things like that. It was used every week.

DR So how old … that must have been fairly old machinery, then, that was in there.

GM It was a great big shaft went right through the steading, and you could put umpteen things on that.

DR That would be away before your time.

GM Oh yes. Seventeen … 1850, I think is written above the door.

DR And is all that equipment still in there?

GM No no. The wheel is.

DR But all the rest of …

DR But all the rest of …

GM All the other stuff’s away.

DR Did you just dump that, or was it …

GM No, there was only the shaft and things left, you know. There was …

DR It was a kind of thing that people would pay money to come in and see working nowadays

GM Oh, I don’t think the wheel would work because all the boards for the sluice … There’s no water in the pond now. We drained it. For safety’s sake.

Mrs M When the kids were small (inaudible).

DR Aye.

GM And we actually concreted off the water that was coming down the sluice.

DR So in the farm buildings there, there was an original water-driven threshing mill, but there was a facility to take all sorts of other machinery off that: drive shaft you used to bruise corn and other things …

GM And rape cake. You could even work … there were fanners. You used to stand and turn the handle. There were two of them, and that was one of the shafts. dressing grain.

DR But in your time that was never actually used as a threshing mill. Did you say you got the travelling mills?

GM Oh, it was used all the time, but in my day it was an electric motor.

DR Oh, that’s what you said.

GM Aye.

DR So you wouldnae get the travelling mills in here then?

GM Yes we did.

DR As well? Did you?

GM Oh yes. Because of all the barley. The one inside was only used for oats for the horses.

DR I see.

GM Then all the chaff and that was taken down among the cattle.

DR Right.

GM And usually we put some treacle in it or something, and they ate that.

DR That’s a thing. I mean, when you started, what about fertilisers? Was it mostly dung? Were you using that granulated stuff?

GM Yes, oh yes. We used that. In fact the man that sows that used to get an extra two shillings a week. For sowing the manure.

DR I remember seeing Archie Middlemas sowing manure by hand. You know, with the … what did you call it?

GM A bag.

DR A bag in front of him.

GM Aye. He didn’t have one of the ones that had … a harp or something they called it.

DR Oh aye. I’ve heard of that. It scattered it automatically.

GM Other ones, you just used to walk, and every step, you know, you could throw the manure out … and keep walking.

DR Aye. There was a kind of rhythm in doing it.

GM And that was progress in these days. Turnips.

DR Speaking of turnips, there was a lot of vegetable growing round about Longniddry; you know, sprouts and cabbage, all the brassicas, and lettuce, sybies and what have you. Did you ever go in for that side of things?

GM No, that was George Mitchell. He did all that. We never grew vegetables.

DR Did you employ female workers?

GM Yes.

DR Certainly, I know in the vegetable growing side of things there was a lot of female labour employed. What did you use them for?

GM They were used for everything! Ha ha ha!

DR Like what.

GM Singling turnips, hoeing turnips. Oh, they used to do all … they worked like men. Just like men in those days. You know Jean Honeysett in the Village – Jean Weston. She worked here for years. And there was two Youngs. They worked here. They used to wear the great big ugleys.

DR The ugleys. Of course the Miss Youngs are dead now.

GM Aye. See Alec Stuart died yesterday? [Grocer in Longniddry for many years]

DR Did he? The old characters are fairly dwindling away. Where were we? Female workers … I was going to ask about the Smiddy. Did you use Longniddry Smiddy?

GM Oh yes. Bertie (?) Chirnside. Drew Chirnside. Harry. I spent half my life down in the Smiddy.

DR I believe it was a kind of magnet for men … for laddies in the village.

GM Aye, we used to get … Well, we used to give them a hand to make horseshoes and things like that.

DR Did he give you a shot at that kind of thing?

GM You’d got a big hammer and you’d just let … And you took lead, and he had a machine for making lead balls for the catapults.

DR Oh aye! So he was aiding and abetting! I mean, it wasnae just shoeing horses. They would repair implements and gates and that kind of thing as well.

GM Anything worn on machinery, he would lay it, as we would say. Take the coulters down and he would lay them, reshape them. All the plough machinery got worn. Nowadays of course you would just buy new ones. It costs a fortune. You used to always take them down and get them laid.

DR In these days everything would be repaired … Have you any stories about the Smiddy. It sounds like the kind of place there would have been stories about.

GM I was thinking about it but ach, there’s nothing really.

DR Nothing you could record anyway! You spoke about the farm workers sitting smoking and blethering in the stable at night, you spoke about the kirns, and you spoke about a farm football team. How else would they amuse themselves?

GM Oh … I don’t know. These Irish folk used to come; they used to go up into the stackyard and just knock the stuffing out of each other, just for fun.

DR Fight for fun?

GM Uh huh I’ve seen the men carrying fifteen/sixteen stone bags of grain round the back there, and one of the women used to sit on top of it

DR Just to show off their strength.

GM Aye. They were lifting cart axles. You know, people wouldn’t believe this, carrying a sixteen stone bag of barley on your back and a girl sitting on the top!

DR So that was an Irish caper.

GM Oh yes. They were mad of course.

DR Thinking of the workers again, what was an average wage for a ploughman about 1950? (GM indicates wages book.)

DR Thirty six pounds … thirty-eight pounds. Is that a

GM That was the total. That was the wage for a fortnight.

DR Oh, that’s a fortnight’s wages £3 – 19 – 7, £3 – 1 – 7.

GM (Inaudible) John Reid, David Fairbairn (inaudible) used to stay with John Reid, Dod Hogg.

DR Oh, I mind that …

GM Remember Dod?

DR Was he kin o handicapped or something?

GM Very! Ha ha ha!

DR Well, I’m being polite there! I can mind him going about. Still, he was worth £2 – 7 – 7 a fortnight

GM A fortnight. Aye.

DR So you might say that the average wage worked out …

GM You’re away back … That’s 1937.

DR 1937. They wouldnae change that much over the war and into the Fifties I suppose.

GM Not really no. They gradually got more of course, but that …

DR They wouldnae be going up by leaps and bounds the way they did in, the 1970s and 80s.

GM Oh no. You see there’s …

DR That’s just before the War then, so you could say that an average wage worked out maybe at £1.50 or £1.60 a week.

GM A week, aye. (Inaudible) Jim Macdonald. That was the shepherd so we must have had sheep then.

DR Well, there’s a lot of familiar names there right enough … I wonder if there’s anything else I’ve missed out.

GM Holidays. I think they got about three days.

(Mrs M comes back in with dog)

DR Aye, you were talking about holidays. You said three days. Is that …

GM Three days in the year I think.

DR When? About the 1950s?

GM That’s as new as I can remember, because they used to keep a note always of the days. There’s a bit in here about potatoes. They used to get sixteen bags of potatoes a year. Over and above the …

DR Aye. As well as the cash wages? They got these potatoes. And would they get a free house as well?

GM Oh yes.

DR Was there any other perks they got?

GM Well, they got milk. We never sold milk, you see. They got milk if we had it. And if we hadn’t, of course they didn’t get any.

DR Now, the thing that I suppose is quite important is that you were the farmer on Longniddry Farm, and then when Longniddry expanded, when they started building like wildfire, you’re bound to have lost a fair proportion of your farm.

GM Yes. Oh yes. Even in my time. They lost a lot of it before we came. All the … like away along here, Cotlands and these bits are all … about thirty or forty acres away there.

DR So if you go back away before the War, then the ground that’s Amisfield Place and John Knox Road, Wemyss Road and Elcho Terrace and all that area; that would all be Longniddry Farm at one time?

GM Oh yes. Aye … Its an old map that was in here … its falling to bits but … you see that if we can get it open there … it’s all broken in the middle … but …you see that’s what they … they call that Longniddry Estate or something there.

(GM shows a plan from c. 1920s of the projected development of Longniddry. In the event most of the building proceeded differently.)

DR Oh aye, and this … This must have been back about the 1920s then, because there’s the Garden City, and there’s Elcho Terrace … and Links Road. This is forfeuing

GM It’s obviously been a plan.

DR You can see where Gosford Road is, but then these streets there, these were never built.

GM No, these were never built

DR I dare say you could say that was …

GM This is not Gosford Road. That’s the Sea road, I would say.

DR There’s the Golf Course. That’s the Coast Road. So that must be Gosford Road.

GM Oh yeah, you’re right. Sorry, yes.

DR But then all this thing here, this must have been an original plan that never came to fruition.

GM Uh huh. I know. It’s quite interesting, because that road’s never been built. And Mr Finlayson along at Harelaw, he said he remembers potatoes being right from the railway right to the sea.

DR Really?

GM Oh aye, this was a big farm in these days. (i.e. pre 1st World War.)

DR Aye, that’s just what I was thinking. What would the total acreage of that be then?

GM Oh, seven hundred acres.

DR If you’re right down to the sea, you would be right over the Golf Course.

GM Yes, before the Golf Course was made.

DR Aye, and then right up to … whatever you would call that road up at the top side

GM Aye, the Station, right up to there. We had these fields of course. I remember working in these fields down the Lyars Road before they built on these.

DR Aye. I can remember that, because when we were bairns we used to play with your bales and make camps out of them.

GM Ha ha. Aye.

DR Was that good fertile ground that you lost there?

GM Oh yes! That’s some of the best land in East Lothian. That’s been built over.

DR That’s been built on.

GM You’ll know that with your garden there.

DR Oh that’s grand soil. Aye, I always think that’s quite ironic, you know, that John Glassel destroyed the village to create farmland, and then a couple of hundred years later they destroyed the farmland to create a village, and called it after him. (i.e. Glassel Park) And it’s just the opposite of what he’d have done.

So, you would obviously have to try and get land elsewhere to compensate for what you’ve lost …

GM Oh well yes, but as you probably know, we don’t own the farm; we rent the farm from Lord Wemyss.

DR And has he given you ground elsewhere to make up for what you’ve lost?

GM Well, we have now, because we’ve got all of Craigielaw. And then of course now they’ve built a golf course and taken it all away again!

DR So Craigielaw’s all yours as well?

GM Yes, and it’s (inaudible), that land.

DR And there’s a lot of the ground in the actual Policies as well.

GM Yep. Aye, well, we’ve got a hundred and fifty odd acres of it.

DR So is all that ground in Gosford Estate – all the land that’s farmed – is all that yours?

GM No no, there’s a lot more than that John Thomson at Wheatrig has some, and Sanderson has some. And when Spittal broke up there they got some of that.

DR Aye, that’s right.

GM But other than that … You’re not making any more. You don’t make any more off the land.

DR Aye. It’s running faster, isn’t it, to stay on the spot.

GM Aye, ha ha! Yes.

DR Aye, well, I was away to ask you is there a future in farming in this area; but is that really what you’d say about it, that you’ve got to …

GM Well, I’m quite glad that I’m getting to the finish of farming really. I don’t know what’s to be in the future because there’s still talk of building a new town here. That’s still being talked about.

DR Aye, its kind of under cover. You never get anybody coming out and saying it out loud, but I’d be surprised if that goes away altogether.

GM Aye, I know.

DR Aye. That to me is total anathema to me. The day when you cannae walk out of Longniddry and be in the countryside would be a sad day for me.

Aye. That’s what I feel for the young ones coming on. It’s a sad business.

DR Well that’s it. You have sons that are farmers. Will you have grandchildren that are farmers?

GM Yes. We’ve got one. We’ve one at the moment anyway that’s just finishing the Collage. He’s going to go (inaudible) . He’s one of Norman’s boys.

DR Aye. Oh well, it’s continuing for another generation at least then.

Just to finish up, have you any stories; any amusing stories, any horrifying stories, anything at all about farming at Longniddry Farm? No?

GM Nothing I can think about. There must be plenty of them. Cattle getting out and running all down John Knox Road there.

DR Aye? Is that right?

GM Bashing over the hedges all the way down.

DR That would give them a rude awakening. When I got married and stayed at Seton Mains I the cattle all got out of the cattle court one morning. I was always keen on gardening and I’d just reclaimed this big garden and planted it all out, and the next thing, I got up in the morning, and everything … they tramped right across the garden!

GM Oh, I remember one morning going by, and this was somebody in Gosford Road had passed there and saw the cattle going into one of the gardens, a new house in Gosford Road. And we went there, and the cattle were all round the house, in the garden, a foot deep in the new lawns.


Anyway we got the cattle back out and saw whose they were – they were the Estate cattle – and we got them put back. The people in the house never even knew they’d been there till they looked out in the morning.

DR It’s maybe a good job, because they might have been the kind of people who wouldnae be used to cattle, and they’d probably be frightened to death.

Did you ever have fires or anything like that?

GM Oh yes, we used to have fires. In fact we had a fire not to long ago. I remember we had a fire at the end of the road, and the policeman came up and somebody said, oh, it was a cigarette end; and he spent two hours trying to light the straw with a cigarette end, and he couldn’t! Ha half But … I can’t think of anything you could use else. Not at the moment.Probably if …

DR Oh, as soon as I go away you’ll think of about five hundred different tales! No adventures, or strange unexplained sort of things?

GM Oh no. Not that way inclined!

DR Well, thanks very much. Now, the organisers of this Fourth Statistical Account might want to put this tape in an archive of taped material so that if people are interested they can come and listen. Is that all right?

GM Oh aye. It won’t matter.

DR Ye’ve no been miscallin anybody! Thanks very much then.