Gladsmuir Longniddry | Grieve’s diary, Longniddry Farm

David M. Robertson

Mr Gordon Morrison the farmer at Longniddry Farm has preserved a series of farm diaries kept by the grieve in the 1940s and 50s. Although the grieve is remembered by Mr Morrison as being very effective in his job, his writing skills do not display the same expertise. The work is recorded in the briefest of notes, in handwriting which is very difficult to read. Many words simply consist of an initial letter and a squiggle. It is for example debateable whether the word I have transcribed as “driving” is in fact “driving” or “doing”. “Cleaning” and “clearing” look identical, and it is sometimes impossible to distinguish between “to” and “from”, and “stook” and “stack”. Sometimes the context supplies the answer, but not always. Familiar words are persistently misspelled – “feild”, “mangle” (mangold), “bruze” (bruise), “shaing” (shawing), “saing” (sowing). It took some time to realise that entries on the lines of “10 cattle to Georgie” meant that cattle were being sent to Gorgie Market. Similarly it took a while to dawn that what appeared to be “Slater” as in “500 raily bags from Slater”, or “Roling Slater Field” refers in fact to the “station”. Interestingly, a field named “Sea lands” in a late 18th Century plan, and prounounced “Sealans” by an “auld residenter” who mentioned it to me in the 1960s, appears as “Ceiling Feild” in the grieve’s diary.

By highlighting this I do not mean to mock or belittle the Longniddry Farm grieve, but it is worth noting how a man in his very responsible position could get by on a minimal level of literacy, and worth pondering too whether the much praised thoroughness of Scottish education in the “old days” was as good as it is often cracked up to be.

What follows is a summary of the most important work done in 1950. I have omitted the odd jobs that were often done on wet days or Saturday mornings. No work was ever done on a Sunday and Saturday was a half-day. The words for 1950 were kept in a “Boots Scribbling Diary” (appropriately). On a “Memoranda” page the following employees’ names are noted: –

  • Purves
  • Honeysett
  • Black
  • Greenlaw (Greenlaw)
  • Reid
  • Mc (?) (McEwan?)
  • Ander (Anderson)
  • Mc Mcewen (?)

Grieve’s Diary 1950


(1st January was a Sunday. Monday 2nd January was a holiday)

  • Ploughing
  • Threshing oats
  • Threshing wheat
  • Shawing swedes
  • Digging swedesPotato seed sent off by rail.
  • Storing swedesWheat in bags sent off by lorry.
  • Baling wheat strawBales of wheat straw sent off by lorry.
  • Bedding cattle
  • Dressing potatoes
  • Cutting hedges


  • Ploughing
  • Driving in swedes
  • Dressing potatoesPotato seed sent off by rail.
  • Threshing oatsBags of seed barley sent off by lorry.
  • Bruising cornCattle sent to Gorgie.
  • Cutting hedges
  • Bedding cattle
  • Planting early potatoes


  • Ploughing
  • Harrowing
  • Bedding cattle
  • Bruising corn
  • Seed potatoes sent off by rail.
  • Driving out dung
  • Sowing mangolds
  • Sowing oats
  • Dressing seed barley
  • Sowing beans
  • Sowing nitre
  • Planting potatoes
  • Rolling corn, beans, hay
  • Sowing barley


  • Planting potatoes
  • Rolling corn
  • Sowing grass seed
  • Harrowing
  • Driving in mangolds
  • Driving in hay
  • Sowing sugar beet
  • Cutting hedges
  • Digging silage pit
  • Sowing swedes
  • Hoeing wheat and barley
  • Sowing manure
  • Grubbing potatoes
  • “Rubbing up” potatoes [grubbing??]

(Saturday 29th April and Monday 1st May were holidays)


  • Grubbing potatoes
  • Hoeing potatoes
  • Rubbing up potatoes
  • Sowing manure
  • Cutting thistles and weeds
  • Grubbing sugar beetCattle sent to Gorgie.
  • Singling sugar beet
  • Singling swedes
  • Scarifying sugar beet and swedes


  • Hoeing potatoes
  • Grubbing potatoes
  • Hoeing mangolds
  • Singling mangolds
  • Grubbing mangolds
  • Early potatoes sent off by lorry.
  • Grubbing sugar beet
  • Hoeing swedes
  • Grubbing swedes
  • Cutting hay
  • Turning hay
  • Coling hay
  • Ricking hay
  • Setting up potatoes
  • Lifting early potatoes(8 workers brought from Haddington.)


  • Hoeing sugar beet
  • Lifting early potatoes (8 workers from Haddington.)
  • Filling silage pit
  • Cutting weeds
  • Potatoes sent off by lorry.
  • Roguing potatoes
  • Cattle sent to Gorgie.
  • Rubbing up mangolds
  • Baling hay

(Holidays Monday 24th to Saturday 29th August)


  • Driving in hay
  • Sowing and rolling catch crop
  • Cutting weeds
  • Baling hay
  • Cutting oats
  • Cattle to Reston.
  • Stooking oats
  • Cattle to Gorgie.
  • Cutting second crop hay
  • Raking and baling second crop hay
  • Wheat, potatoes, and barley sent off by lorry.
  • Cutting barley
  • Stooking barley
  • Stacking barley
  • Combining barley
  • Cutting wheat
  • Stooking wheat
  • Stacking oats
  • Ricking second crop hay
  • Laying on dung
  • Driving in barley bates
  • Threshing barley


  • Threshing barley
  • Leading oats
  • Leading barley
  • Leading wheat
  • Barley sent off by lorry.
  • Ricking second crop hay
  • Laying on dung
  • Thatching and roping stacks
  • Threshing wheat
  • Leading in beans
  • Lifting potatoes (24 workers from Hogg.)
  • Baling hay
  • Leading in hay
  • Ploughing stubble


  • Lifting potatoes (With potato lifter.)
  • Ploughing stubble
  • Driving out dung
  • Horse sold at Lanark.
  • Laying on dung
  • Potato seed sent off by rail.


  • Laying on dung
  • Shawing mangolds
  • Storing mangolds
  • Ploughing up sugar beet
  • Sugar beet pulp sent off by rail.
  • Shawing and pulping sugar beet
  • Seed potatoes sent off by rail
  • Driving in sugar beet shaws
  • Ware potatoes sent off by lorry.
  • Dressing potato seed
  • Hay bales sent off by lorry.
  • Sowing wheat
  • Ploughing
  • Threshing oats


  • Pulping sugar beet
  • Driving in sugar beet shaws
  • Driving out dung
  • Sugar beet sent off by rail.
  • Laying on dung
  • Ploughing
  • Bedding cattle
  • Shawing swedes
  • Storing swedes
  • Threshing oats
  • Covering potato pits
  • Covering mangold pits

Christmas Day (a Monday) seems to have been an ordinary working day.