fp-1.10 Sandend and Glassaugh

Fp-1.10 Sandend and Glassaugh

Researched by Findlay Pirie



By Mary Pirie Mortimer or Mackie M.A. (Daughter of William Mortimer, M.A. Schoolmaster, Sandend. 1911 -1926) Source The Banffshire Journal Annual 1973

Sandend harbour

Many details of the everyday life of bygone days are lost forever  through going unrecorded; so I am writing down what I can remember of the day to day life in this village where I spent part of my childhood and which was then somewhat isolated. This record is bound to be rather disjointed but I hope it may be of some interest to local history enthusiasts among the older Sandend residents themselves and to students of local history  in general.

To-day, of course, the village is not isolated at all, and is very popular with campers and caravanners, as well as with day trippers. It lies less than a mile from the main road – now the A98 – approximately half way between Portsoy and Cullen. In the years of which I speak it was still referred to as the “toll road” or even the ‘turnpike’. The older road which had preceeded it had come much closer to the village. A snapshot taken from about Reidhaven shows very clearly how this road has been eroded by the sea. The section remaining to the West of the village was known as the ‘King’s Road’, referring as tradition had it to the passage along it of Prince Charlie on his way to Culloden, but more likely from its correct and much earlier designation as the King’s Highway, Via Regia.  In earlier times it had continued unbroken to Old Cullen, and, on a plan of Old Cullen in 1818, reproduced in Dr Cramond’s “Reminiscenses of Old Cullen”, the Cullen end of it is also called “the King’s Road.

Sandend School

We arrived there in 1911. My father, Wm. Mortimer (1862-1947), M.A. 1884, wishing to return to the Portsoy-Cullen area where his ancestors had lived for generations had become the village schoolmaster at Sandend and stayed there until 1926 when he retired. With very few exceptions the inhabitants were fisher-folk and closely inter-related. One of the exceptions was an elderly lady who, in the early years of that period, walked every morning across the sands to a near-by farm and returned with two pails of milk slung from a wooden yoke placed across her shoulders. This was part of our milk supply. Milk was also available from another non-fishing family, which consisted of two sisters and a brother, along with there old mother, known as “Pegsie” (Mrs Margaret McCurrach). They kept about three cows which grazed on land near the school, known as the Haugh, now used by the Seafield Estates as a caravan site. They also ran a little shop and the brother did carting, I think the shop was contained in a corner of the kitchen and at the fireside sat the old mother, wearing a mutch. I think that the indoors mutch was falling out of favour by this time but some of the older women still wore it, including my paternal grandmother who died in 1915.

The aforesaid shop was where you usually  spent your “Saturday penny” which could be eked out by buying two halfpenny worths on separate occasions. Your purchase might be wrapped in a page from a used school notebook neatly twisted into a sort of cone. By presenting your old exercise book for this purpose you could obtain a few free sweets! A favourite purchase was a slab of ‘Trecola costing 1d.

In retrospect, the years 1911 -1914 were the most interesting, for after the Great War as we called it, things were never to be the same again. Some of the men who had served in the Navy or worked in the Clydeside shipyards even married girls of non-fishing families!

In 1921 I became a student at Aberdeen University and my family left the village in 1926, so I am not competent to discuss the changes which took place after that. World War II completed the metamorphosis.

I attended the village school for 3 years, before being enrolled at Fordyce Academy in early 1914, and during that period I viewed village life almost from the inside. It was a hard life for both men and women, but perhaps in some ways hardest for the women. The years before and immediately after World War I followed a fairly set pattern. It was not an affluent village and possessed, I think, only two ‘drifters’ which could not, however, be accommodated in the local harbour. With these, or with large sail boats, the men went to the herring fishing which was seasonal. In Spring and early Summer all the able-bodied men departed to fish in Northern waters, mainly round Lerwick.

Newspapers were the only medium of communication in those days, and I can remember some of the womenfolk coming to our door to enquire about the fishing reports in the Aberdeen Free Press which was daily delivered to us by the postman. Individual catches and the price per cran wore recorded in detail every day.

October and November brought the exodus to Lowestoft and Yarmouth. At both seasons the men were followed by the single women and widows, who travelled by boat to Shetland and by train to East Anglia. They were going to the ‘gutting’. Their job was to gut the herring and pack them into barrels with layers of salt in between. The salt herring were exported mainly to Germany and Russia. One of the effects of the Great War was the loss of this market. The girls worked in crews of three. Two gutted and one packed – the tallest one. Their hands went like lightening! They wrapped their fingers in bandages to protect them from the salt. No rubber gloves then!

A few men went in winter to continue herring fishings on the West coast of Scotland, but there was no general exodus as for East Anglia and Shetland. The later collapse of the herring fishing is a subject which I am not competent to discuss, and is, in any case, one of too great complexity to be gone into in a short space, but there were several contributory causes  – the disappearance of the herring shoals from their usual haunts, the high cost of running and maintaining the drifters and the political and financial difficulties of Germany and Russia who had been the biggest buyers of salt herring before 1914.

In between these excursions the mainstay of the village was line fishing and I feel that I can speak more confidently about this, having been an interested eye-witness. The men went out in small boats in crews of four. All the preparatory work was done by the women. Early in the morning they went to the ‘scaup’ i.e. mussel-beds. These were mainly on the other side of the bay, and in my mind’s eye I can still see them walking across the sands wearing their creels which were carried by means of a broad leather band across the chest. They collected limpets also. The men, who had gone to sea about 2 a.m., returned with their catches about 8 a.m. and then the women’s work really began (how the catch was disposed of I will come to later). First, they had to ‘redd’ the lines. This was done by draping them backwards and forwards over a horizontal pole,  Hooks were suspended from the line at intervals of perhaps 15 inches – I could not be sure about the spacing. Meantime the shell fish had been removed from their shells with a sharp knife – no small task. Each hook now had to have a shellfish bait impaled upon it. But they weren’t finished yet. The baited lines had to be stowed neatly in a shallow wooden vessel called a scull, so that they could be paid out smoothly from the boat next day. I do not remember seeing any basket-work sculls though these had once been in common use.

When you think that most of these women had big families for whom they had to cook, wash and knit, you can imagine how much spare time they had! In spite of that, they kept their houses immaculate, and that without any labour saving devices. During the period of which I write, the cradle was still in universal use. It could be rocked with a push of the foot while the busy mother was attending to other household duties. By our standards, their lives were very limited but they accepted their lot cheerfully, and though they could often be very poor after a bad fishing, I do not think there was any malnutrition. Apart from the fish which they caught themselves, eggs and butter were available at reasonable prices from nearby farms, and for threepence you could buy enough vegetables to make a pot of broth Generally the vegetables came from the garden of a cottar house, and you stood by while they were pulled from the ground.

The disposal of the line-caught fish.- At the top of the village were fish-curing sheds   belonging  to Benjie Smith    As  the little boats began to return to the harbour he would walk down to see how they had fared.  If the catches were good – he seemed to come back with a more sprightly step!  Soon afterwards, the fishermen could be seen, still in their oilskins and sea-boots, carrying their baskets of fish to the sheds. Mr Smith re-sold some of the fish to a few women who ran small businesses of their own. They carried the fish, fresh, smoked or dried, round the countryside in their creels.

The method in which the fish was allocated to the various women was rather interesting, They combined to buy a given weight of fish which was then deposited in a heap on the grass nearby. The women now proceeded to arrange the fish in a circle of smaller heaps, one or more for each woman as she required. As far as possible the fish flung on the heaps in any one round were all the same size. The fish, having been divided into equal sized heaps, the women then commandeered a bystander, who, with closed eyes, held out a cap into which the ladies dropped some personal object, such as a brooch or a hairpin. The recipient now opened his or her eyes and flung one of these objects on to each heap, thus identifying a heap with its owner. This process was called ‘casting the cavels’.

One of these women, with the help of her family, was particularly successful with her business. Every morning she caught the 7 a.m. train at Glassaugh station, and travelled farther afield than the others. This was the foundation of a business which was greatly expanded in later years with the help of modern equipment, vans etc. Mr Smith’s business is carried on by his grandson in enlarged and modernised premises, but, alas, the fish has to be bought in Buckie or Whitehills, or even farther a-field.

Many houses had ‘hakes’ hanging on one of their outer walls. A hake was a wooden triangle with a bar nailed across, between the apex and the base. From this device several nails or hooks projected on which were hung split whitings to dry. They were known as ‘speldings’, and when boiled, tasted very sweetly. The barbed wire fences of the Broom farm also came in handy for the drying of speldings.

Plain wire or wooden fences were useful for drying the nets, a familiar sight after each herring season. Before the next season the nets had to be mended – another task for the women. They used a special ‘needle’ on to which was wound a length of the fine cord required. They were made of bone and often fashioned by the fishermen themselves. The nets also had to be ‘barked’. I cannot remember where this was done, but on an 1863 map two bark kettles are marked near a little stream known as the ‘strypie’.

The railway and our bicycles were our only means of transport, but after the war (i.e. the Great War)  Mr Smith and his sons, who were very enterprising, did initiate a kind of weekly bus service. By this time they had a lorry for transporting their fish, and on Saturdays a sort of box was slid on to the lorry and in this the women travelled to Portsoy to do their weekly shopping. It had a bench seat down each side and little portable steps were used for climbing aboard. I cannot remember if it had windows – perhaps there was enough light from the open end.

Through the fields there was a well beaten path to the railway station at Glassaugh. It was known as the ‘little roadie’ and has now completely disappeared. So has the station, and indeed, the whole railway line!

At the time of which I write, fisher folk wore a distinctive dress and were easily distinguishable from there farming or cottar neighbours.  I cannot remember them in anything but navy blue, except widow who were always attired in black. The women wore a loose fitting dress called a “goonie”. This was, of course, the local pronunciation of the word ‘gown’, for all nouns had ie added to them whether diminutive or not. This dress was usually made by a local dressmaker. Over it went a shawl and it was a very important part of their outfit. There were working shawls and dress shawls and wedding shawls. The shawl, too, had an important role in baby carrying. Prams were unknown. The shawl was wound round, mother and baby in a way that gave the baby good support but left the mother’s right hand free. Hats were seldom worn though one was kept for special occasions. I think they wore a lot of underwear – no central heating then and a lot of the work was out of doors. There would be semmit, sark, stays and ‘quites’ – to translate, i.e. vest, chemise, corsets and petticoats. The wide goonie could be turned up to disclose the striped petticoat but their dress was never as elaborate as that of the fishwives of Newhaven and Musselburgh. Some of the older women still wore mutches. On special occasions, such as a preaching in the school by the minister of Fordyce, these older women could look very handsome with black silk capes and black straw bonnets which were tied with ribbons under the chin and trimmed with bobbing ornaments.

The men’s most distinctive garment was the ‘gansey’ which I take to be derived from Guernsey. It bore little resemblance to the ‘fisher-knits’ which are so popular today. For one thing it was ‘knitted with ‘fingering’ wool on very fine pins – ‘size 14, I think – and on four pins up to the parting at the armpits. It did not reach much below the waist and it had a little stand-up collar, not a polo neck. These ganseys were knitted in traditional designs which were handed down by word of mouth. I wonder if anyone remembers them now. There were several of them and they had names such as the ‘rope’ and the ‘diamond’. At sea, of course, the men wore oilskins and very long-legged leather boots.

The older men often wore cheese-cutter caps and truly looked like the old salts which they were. One or two of the really old men wore little fur caps which they probably acquired when sailing on trading vessels to the Baltic States. In the 19th century the nearby town of Portsoy, of which my father was a native, had carried on a flourishing trade with these regions, in fact, when the railway first came to the Banffshire coast, it went straight to Portsoy harbour and stopped there. The tracks can still be seen. My father could remember the Westward extension being built – it was begun in 1882 und completed in 1886.

The women never stopped knitting! They knitted semmits, long drawers and very long stockings to go with the sea-boots, as well as the ganseys. All garments were seamless as far as possible and knitted, as already said, on sets of four very fine needles. The needle in the right hand was supported in a sheath, which might be a leather pad pierced with fine holes and stuffed with horse hair, worn round the waist on a thin leather scrap, or a stiffly packed roll of straw held in the waist belt. This made for comfortable and speedy knitting. Even if out for a walk on a fine afternoon, the women carried their ‘shank’ (uncompleted knitting) and as the garment grew it got tucked up under the waist belt to support its weight. The usual walk was to the Crannoch wood near Cullen, with the creel on the back, to collect kindling wood, and the knitting went too. This path was the continuation of the “King’s Road”, already referred to, which stopped at the cottar houses of the Barnyards of Findlater. The path went on through a field to the edge of the wood. Unfortunately, this field was ploughed up during the 1939-1945 war and has remained obliterated ever since. Once into the wood, it could be clearly seen that you were on the old pre-turnpike road. The dykes on its verges remain as tumble-down heaps of stones, running in parallel rows, and now overgrown with moss and ferns.

The commonest surname was certainly Smith, followed by McKay, Hay, Wood and Sutherland. Since reading John Prebble’s “The Highland Clearances” I have a theory that the McKays and Sutherlands derived from victims of the Clearances, who had crossed the Moray Firth to live in a less repressive atmosphere, and this seems to be borne out by the dates of the entries of these names in the Seafield rental books. The Smiths and Hays were there long before that. This is clear from Fordyce Kirk records as ‘transcribed by Dr W. Cramond, and from inscriptions on old tombstones in the churchyard round the remains of the mediaeval church. There were many Hays in the surrounding district, including the Hays of Arnbath, now a farm but then a small estate, between Sandend and Portsoy.

Tee-names, so characteristic of the N.E. fishing villages, were by now less in use than they had been at one time, perhaps because the population was fairly small and identification easier, but there were still a few. Maybe because the men were away so much, there were some notable matriarchs, whose names were used to identify those of their descendants, so that you got Polly’s Jock or even Polly’s Mary’s Willie and so on, unto the third generation. The said Polly was a sterling character and I hope her descendants will not mind my using her name. I well remember her presiding over a stall at a Grand Fete held at Cullen House about 1917 to raise funds for some war purpose, and I remember too, her fine looking husband to whom she referred as “oor aul’ ane”. Incidentally, married women, according to the old Scottish custom, were never known by any other name than that which they acquired at birth.

The success or otherwise of the herring fishing was a matter of the utmost importance. A good fishing meant that bills could be paid and weddings could take place. In 1914 weddings were quite a spectacle. The bride wore her best gown, and over it a very special white shawl It was draped round her shoulders and held at one side by a brooch A procession led by the bride and the ‘best man’ wended its way to the school. Immediately behind the bride and her escort came the bridegroom and the ‘best man’. They were followed by all the unmarried young folk -in couples – in their best clothes, though I do not think that all the girls wore white shawls; but they would wear the best shawl that they had.

At the school the minister would be waiting to tie the knot- and then there would be the feast and the dancing. The food was prepared and served by the older women and relatives, who also provided the crockery and cutlery etc. Outside the school door the children waited  patiently  to  be handed the left-overs. The bride was pregnant more often than not. This was an accepted social custom. Times were often bad so why get married until necessity intervened. The couple usually set up house in a room sub-let to them by anyone who had a room to spare, until such time as a house became vacant.

In summer, courting was done on the braes west of the village and in winter in an outhouse or shed lent by a relative or friend.  With nets and lines to be stored, most people had outhouses, but in the poorer cottages the smaller end room was sometimes used for this purpose.  The commonest house design was the ‘but and ben’ room known as the “closet”, all the rooms being equipped with box beds. Some houses had attics, but as far as I remember, only one house had an outside stair leading to a net loft, a type commonly seen in Portknockie, Findochty etc.

The results of the season’s fishing might also decide how leisure time was to be spent. If good, some men would walk the two miles to Portsoy in the evening to have a drink at the Shore Inn but over-indulgence was extremely rare. “Revivals” tended to take place after a bad fishing, though I am sure that this was quite unconscious, and they provided a useful emotional outlet. Fisher people are, or were deeply religious, being so often at the mercy of the elements. It is a moving experience to hear a fishermen’s choir singing “Eternal Father, strong to save”. A few were members of the “Auld Kirk, i.e. the Established Church of Scotland, or of the U. F. Kirk, but these churches did not really meet their requirements. Some were “Brethren” and met regularly in the Old School. They and others held evangelistic meetings every Sunday evening in the new school and these were well attended. Once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, the Auld Kirk or the U.F. minister, both from Fordyce, held a sparsely attended service in the school, Sandend being, of course, in that parish. I am sure that every house contained a copy of Sankey’s Hymns, and most took in that weekly publication – the “Christian Herald.”

The education provided at the village school was, I suppose, very elementary, but most of the fishermen who passed through that establishment can write a good letter and many are well read. Some of the older boys got introductory lessons in Navigation, my father having taken courses in Aberdeen for that purpose. Sex education – about which we hear so much today! – was provided at an early age by the older girls to the younger ones, and I daresay that went for the boys, too. In a small crowded community, waging a battle for its existence, the realities of birth and death are commonplace. Infant mortality was relatively high, I think, and kept the population at a stable level.

Most funerals took place to the old Churchyard at Fordyce, now closed, and I think I am right in saying that, pre-1914 at least, the coffin was usually carried the two miles on two spokes still used in Cullen cemetery 1973, by four men at a time taking it in turns. A day or two before, a relative of the deceased would open the door of each house and call out a “bidding” to the funeral, addressed only to the male members of the household. Women never attended funerals. The said churchyard has been for many years in a sad state of neglect, but on a recent visit I was delighted to find that considerable restoration work was being carried out, thanks to the County Council.

I hope my contemporaries in the village will forgive me where my recollections are at fault. Some are still there and their hospitable welcome is a heart warming experience. Some have found their way to other parts of the country, and, some alas, are no more. The new village of council housing between the village and the main road is not necessarily occupied by fishing. families. Many of the houses in the old part of the village are now used as holiday homes, presenting a dead look for many months of the year. The younger people are tending to move to Buckie where there is a harbour for their boats and a school for their children.

I wonder if the 80-year olds envy the modern fisherman his affluence. Even if they do, they must rejoice that the days have gone when hard work often brought little material reward.



Researched by Findlay Pirie


From the book “Banff and Buchan.  An Illustrated Architectural Guide”

Glassaugh Windmill:  -Early 18th. Century.   An impressive landmark: a three-storey, tapering stone stump sitting on a wider circular plinth, earning itself the unsubtle nickname of ‘cup and saucer’.   Built by General Abercrombie of Glassaugh, at one time Depute Governor of Stirling Castle (and on the losing side of the Battle of Ticonderoga in the American War of Independence) it is under gradual restoration by the Banffshire Coast Society.


The Windmill at Glassaugh (Authorship unknown)

Glassaugh Windmill

This unique structure was so well and solidly built that it has withstood the storm and stress of at least 218 years without showing much deterioration in the stonework, except in the unusual substructure. Above that are the three floors of the mill proper. The cap with its sails, probably disappeared in the first half of the 19th century.   If it was still in use up to that time   I have not been able to find out   the coming of steam power would certainly put an end to its usefulness. The neighbouring water mills (references in Rent books etc. indicate that there were two survived until1875 when the first Glenglassaugh distillery was built on their site). Incidentally that distillery used water power for a long time, for the operations later powered by electricity, and in the office of the present distillery there hangs an interesting painting of the old distillery. Fortunately, also shown in this painting is the windmill, in slightly better shape than it is now, 100 years later.

The mills, both water and wind, were known as the Craig Mills and were on the estate of Glassaugh. This estate belonged to the Abercrombies (cadet branch of the Abercrombies of Birkenbog/Forglen) from about 1658 till 1823, when it passed to their descendants, the Duffs of Fetteresso. Some of the papers of this family are in the Scottish Record Office (ref. GD 105) and I have searched them for information about the windmill. The earliest reference that I have found is in a letter, written on 23rd August, 1761, from General Jas. Abercromby to his eldest daughter who was staying at their London residence in Golden Square. He complains of the weather – they had had a tempest of wind which had almost blown off the pompon of the windmill which was only set up yesterday. This presumably refers to the cap, the movable wooden structure above the tower, which held the gearing, connecting the sails to the mechanism for driving the millstones. This does not prove that the windmill was built in 1761 , but when Lady Lessendrum and her two daughters called on him, he took them down to see the  “Miln” and entertained them with two plates of “apricocks and plumbs” which makes one think the windmill was still a novelty. Whether this little feast took place at the mill or back at the house is not clear. At this date the General would be about 54 and would be devoting his energies to his estate, his military career having come to a somewhat inglorious end at the battle of Ticondecoga in 1759, when his forces were routed there.

Very little exists in print about Scottish windmills. In the proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1964) there is an article listing 33 windmills in Scotland. The writer admits that he has not seen all these mills and bases his description of the Glassaugh one on information received from Messrs. J. McNaught and and J.Reid of the Banffshire Field Club. The information must have been fantastic, since the writer concludes that the mill was a turret post mill built in the late 18th century or the early 19th.  It is, of course, a tower mill, a completely different type of structure, and is correctly, though briefly, described in the Listed Buildings of Fordyce parish. It may be that the cap did not have to be rotated manually to make the sails face the wind, because, in 1745, an English millwright had invented an automatic method of facing the sails to the wind.

What makes this tower mill different from others is the thick extra walling at the ground stage. It must be about ten feet high and five or six feet wide. My first theory was that it was to provide buttressing in case the four wide arched opening should weaken the support for the upper storeys, but the walls are so thick that this seems hardly likely. Having now read some books on English wind-mills, I realise it was a platform from which it was easier to manipulate the cap and sails.  Most English tower mills of that period had a kind of wooden gallery or walkway all round the outside of the tower at about a third of its height, for this purpose. Later  tower mills were higher because new types of sails became available.  Stones were in plentiful  supply at Glassaugh, so it would be sensible to build a stone platform.  We know from the old Statistical Account, written in the 1970’s that the windmill was built on a pre-historic outside of the tower at about of its height, for this purpose. Later tower mills were higher types of sails became available.

Statistical Account, written in the 1790s, that the windmill was built on the site of a pre historic burial barrow, which consisted of a huge cairn of stones, mostly from the seashore, 50 feet in diameter and14 feet high. It contained a stone coffin, with bones and a deer’s horn, and it is tantalising to think that this pre historic monument has disappeared, above ground, at any rate. When the Account was written there may still have been old people around who could remember the dismantling of it in order to build the windmill, and there can be little doubt that many of the stones are incorporated in the thick walls. In the interior, the door and window openings are lined with bricks from which an expert might be able to make some deductions about the date of the building.  They are very dark in colour and somewhat purple looking. With the General’s English connections, it is possible that the designer, if not the builder, came from the South. Local masons would not be likely to have expertise in this field.

The four arched entrances were wide enough to admit a horse and cart, and there are still a few old people in Sandend who can remember seeing the necessary equipment for hauling sacks of grain from the carts to the upper floors, which by this time were being used as a store for the distillery. When the windmill was in its heyday the equipment would have hoisted wheat or oats to the top floor to be fed into the hoppers which conveyed the grain to the millstones below. At the first floor level, doorways open on to the platform and on the outside of the walls at this stage some strong iron rings, the purpose of which probably had, something to with moving the cap, or furling the sails. I have not been able to find out whether product of the mill was flour or oatmeal.   Flour was certainly made at one of the Craig Mills.  This is clear in a note from the General, in 1773, to lower the price of his flour, because of the great import of London flour and the lower wheat prices. The account entries show that they had customers from a wide area, and they also milled “outsucken” wheat.

Alfred Barnard, in his book ‘Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom” (1st  p, 1887), describes the windmill as forming the entrance to Glenglassaugh Distillery but this is not correct. It stood at some distance from the old distillery, but the track from the distillery to Glassaugh Station went right through the windmill, by the North and South arches. One imagines that this was the route of a much older track from the hamlet at Craigmills to the hamlet at Glassaugh. The smiddy was at Glassaugh and presumably, at one time, an inn as well, for the little shop which used to adjoin the smiddy was known as the Black Jug, and I cannot think of any other explanation for this name. In living memory, a hostelry called the Red Lion stood between Claylands Croft and the Mains of Glassaugh cottar houses, and it may have been the successor to the unremembered Black Jug.

A painting of Glassaugh house as it was in the 18th century, is in the possession of Mrs. Arden, Colly Farm, Tetbury, Glos., and this shows in the distance the sails of the windmill, which makes an interesting memento of its active life. Meantime the windmill is in private ownership and not accessible by the public, which may well prevent it from being vandalised.


Aberdeen Journal, Monday, 29 July 1794: -

Farm and Mills in Banffshire to be Let.

To be let for the space of 23 years, and entered to at the term of Whitsunday next, or sooner.

The Farm and Mill of CRAIGMILLS, in the Parish of Fordyce, and County of Banff, situated upon the post road leading from Portsoy to Cullen, distant about 2 miles from each of these places and near the village of Sandend, consisting of 53 Scotch acres arable, of an excellent clay soil, and 15 acres of pasture land.  Upon the farm is a windmill for grinding wheat, and there are water mills for wheat, barley, and oats, with large commodious granaries.  There is also a very complete set of houses for carrying on a distillery.  The dwelling house consists of six fire rooms, with a good kitchen, and pleasantly situated upon a rising ground commanding a view of the sea.  The offices, which are a convenient distance from the house, are extensive and commodious.

The farm is admirably well calculated for any gentleman who wishes a country residence, and to a position who understands the management of the flour mills, it would be a very desirable situation.  There are also Lime Kilns adjoining the farm.

Proposals may be given in to George Robinson, Esq., Writer to the Signet, Queen Street, Edinburgh, Arthur Dingwall Fordyce Esq., Commissary of Aberdeen, and Provost Robinson at Banff.

James Halket at Craigmills will show the farm.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, January 26th, 1916: -

DEATH OF MR. ALEX. MACDONALD, ENGINEER, PORTSOY – It is with deep regret that we record the death of Mr. Alexander Macdonald, engineer, and agricultural implement maker, which took place suddenly on Thursday at his residence, 22 Durn Road, Portsoy.

Mr. Macdonald was a native of the parish of Fordyce, having been born at Blackjug (Glassaugh), where he learned the blacksmith trade with his father.  It is now 38 years since he and his brother, the late Bailie James Macdonald came to Portsoy and started the now well known business of Messrs. Macdonald Brothers, Engineers, and Agricultural Implement Makers.   To be exact the foundation of the firm was laid in 1878, and as a result of the united effort and inventive genius of the partners their career has been one round of success.  Twice the business premises were changed, and on each occasion more extensive buildings had to be erected.


Banffshire Reporter, March 12th 1875: -

Glenglassaugh Distillery – This important work, which has been in the course of construction for some time, is now rapidly drawing towards completion, and would have been in active operation weeks ago had it not been for the very backward state of the weather.  in the course of its erection, the work, like all works of the kind, has excited a good deal of local interest, and has been well inspected by many people of the district ; but a short description of it may not be without interest to a number of our readers who may not have had an opportunity of seeing it for themselves.

The buildings, we may state, occupy the site of the old meal mill and kiln of Craigmills, (Note: – Not to be confused with “Cup and Saucer” windmill nearby) but extend further south and north, and occupy a much larger area than these and all the small houses which adjoined them did.  The site chosen shows considerable forethought and the architect ( Mr. Melvin, Elgin) appears to have taken full advantage of local facilities.  In the first place, there is an ample command of  water-power.  In the second the fall in the ground is so great that there is about 40 feet betwixt the level of the floor on which the malt is made and the floor of the bonded warehouse, so that, with except of the manufactured spirits, everything must be said to go down, down, and further down by gravitation, so to speak.

Our notice would be incomplete without stating that the projectors of the distillery are the Messrs. Morrison, Turriff, and our townsman, Colonel Moir.  As we have already indicated, the plans were drawn by Mr. Melvin, Elgin; the contractor for the mason work was Mr. A Barclay; for the carpenter work, Mr. W. Duffus, Cullen; slater and plumber work, Mr. Geo. McDonald, Portsoy; plaster work, Messrs. McIvor and Younie, Cullen and Elgin; stills, Mr. T. Wilson, Portsoy.  The cast iron work is from Johnstone’s Foundry, Elgin, with exception of the mashing machine which is from Banff Foundry; and the millwright is Mr. Petrie,


Census – Parish of Fordyce – 31st. March 1851

Census for Craigmills

Census for Craigmills

These entries appear in the census between the entries of Linkbraeheads and Dunnideich.   It would appear that there was a farm there by the name of “Craigmills” and that one of the mills was occupied and working at the time.

Note: – There were three mills at Glenglassaugh.  One driven by wind, now known locally as the “Cup and Saucer” and another two situated near the burn, driven by a water wheel, which have been demolished.


Banffshire Reporter, Friday, April 16th 1875: -

GLENGLASSAUGH DISTILLERY – THE START – We announced in our last that the works at Glenglassaugh were now in such a forward state that if no hitch took place, the first “browst” would be brewed there this week, and we were right.   Having to be there on business on the forenoon of Tuesday last, we were so fortunate as to be just in time to witness the start, which took place in presence of Messrs. Morrison, Turriff, two of the partners of the company.  As we have so recently described the whole work, we have little to add on that head, further than to say that there is still many odds and ends to finish up both outside and inside; but the working parts are all ready and in full gearing.   Those who know anything of either brewing or distilling must know that to mash – supposing the malt to be ready – is the first part of the process.   Accordingly, all being in readiness, the mashing machine, which is driven at a very high speed, was set in motion, and the mashed malt and water began to flow into the mashing tun.   So powerful is this machine that about 160 bushels of malt were mashed in from fifteen to twenty minutes and it may easily be conceived that once it has wrought for some little time the same work may be done in a shorter space.  But there was not a single hitch in the working of the machinery.  From the mash tun the first wort would be run into the under back from which it would be pumped up to the coolers.    This is the only instance in the whole process in which anything has to be pumped up or carried up.   From the cooler the wort will descend to the fermenting tuns and so on to the wash still, and it was expected that the malt which was thus mashed on Tuesday forenoon would be whisky in bond by Saturday, the quantity mashed being expected to yield about 350 gallons, but only the lightest of the barley in store had been used.   Glenglassaugh Distillery may thus be regarded as fairly in operation.


(Book1.10/ Sandend & Glassaugh)

2 Responses to fp-1.10 Sandend and Glassaugh

  1. Alison Smith

    Thank you for this fascinating article. I am a direct descendant of Samuel Boyde and am now piecing together my family history. Many were the picnics we enjoyed at Sandend,

    • Elna McSevney

      I am also direct descendant of Samuel Boyde and Margaret Wright.
      Would be happy to share any information I have.

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