Dornoch Historylinks Image Library

Group photograph Embo School c 1946
Group photograph Embo School c 1946

Monochrome photograph of Embo school children c 1946, taken at the school.

Front row: Hugh Docherty, David Ferguson, Annabell Watt, Ray MacLeod, Flora Fraser, Catherine Ross (Post Office), Una Fraser, Pat Cumming, June Davidson, Ann Mackay, Hectorina Mackay, George Mackay, George Fraser.

Middle row: Hugh Ross, John Mackay (King), Jessie Joan Grant, Sheena Davidson, Margaret Mackay (King) Billy Swanson (Coull Farm). Alastair Ross.

Back row: Donald Swanson (Coull Farm), Peter Swanson (Coull Farm), John Calder (Headmaster's son), Joe MacDonald, Alastair Fraser and Teacher Miss Johnston.
Picture added on 22 February 2011 at 16:10
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Hidden Gems
Please be advised that all of the Swansons in the photograph were from Embo Farm and not Coull Farm.

Many thanks for your comment - Administrator
Added by Calum Swanson on 23 February 2011
Oops. Calum is of course correct. The Swanson boys were from Embo Farm and not Coull Farm. How I made such a mistake I do not know as I often saw them at that farm when I visited there in the late 1940s and early 1950s to buy milk and get the odd swede turnip. Swede turnips were sweet and very pleasant to eat raw, especially if they had been exposed to a few nights of frost in the late autumn.
On one such visit to the farm in the school summer holidays my young brother George,I and two other Embo boys (one might have been Davie Ross and the other Jimmie Sutherland) went there to buy milk. I think that it must have been 1952. Normally milkman Willie Wright from Dornoch Dairy brought milk to Embo for sale in his van but Embo Farm milk was said to be creamier and it was cheaper. On our way to the milking byre we came across a group of tinkers camped at the edge of a cultivated field on the farm. I think that these tinkers had the surname MacFee but for some reason unknown to me we called them "MacaFees". We then saw that there was a group of their children of our age group playing there and as was our habit we sat on the wooden field gate and exchanged insults with them. Our insults consisted of us calling them “fauties” and they calling us “Embo Fishers” and something about that blessed buoy that we allegedly stole! This insulting went on for some time until we suddenly noticed that some of the tinker boys a few years older than us had managed to almost reach our gate by moving secretly through the whin bush hedge that bordered the field. Knowing that those who swear and run away live to swear another day we took to our heels closely followed by these boys. We ran so fast through the whin bushes towards Cronc Hill above Embo Railway Station that we did not even bother to run round the whin bushes but mostly went straight through them. On our arrival at the top of Cronc Hill we were exhausted and covered with whin bush thorn injuries and lay on the tar to recover. As we fought for breath and attended to our injuries we realised that George was missing. After a long strategic wait we went looking for him and found him well hidden but safe in a large whin bush near the gate that we had been sitting on.

The story does not end there however. The next day George and I were sent back to Embo Farm to buy milk again. We went alone. After a very cautious reconnaissance we saw that the tinkers were still camped at the same spot. We then took a very long circuitous route and arrived at the milk byre and bought our milk. The milk was as usual warm and straight from the cow and we carried in it large Cruickshank’s of Buckie lemonade bottles. A full bottle cost three pennies each and of course the milk was not pasteurised, homogenised or any other “ised” as is done today. As we were going towards the back of the byre to take the path back to Embo we saw the same group of boys who had chased us the day before approaching us but luckily they had not seen us. We then ducked into a large patch of nettles and hid there unseen. We got badly stung by the nettles and were of course humiliated at having to hide in such a way. We then listened quietly as the boys got closer while all the time thanking our lucky stars at finding such an excellent hiding place. We then heard one of the boys ask the others if they should check on how the clocking hen on her eggs was getting one. As these words were spoken we saw to our horror that not a yard from us was a proud fat hen sitting on a large clutch of eggs and newly hatched chicks. Just then one of the tinker boys entered the nettles and shouted in glee to his friends that he had found not one chicken but three! We were then unceremoniously grabbed and taken to the disused water mill nearby and forced to enter the large stone trough in which the water wheel turned. Luckily the sluice gate above the wheel was closed and only a small amount of water stood in the trough. Finally after much threats of violence and the odd wet clod being thrown at us we were allowed to get out of the trough, recover out milk bottles and make our way home. Of course there had been a lot of humilating begging on our part!All in all it was a good lesson for us and I never remember us being engaged in confrontations with the tinkers after that, nor did we ever barrack them again. It was just not worth it.

Added by Kenneth Mackay on 07 March 2011
The date must be wrong as I am in it and in 1946 I would only have been 3years old. I must have been at least 5 or 6.

Many thanks for your comment, I will amend the date to 1949 - Administrator
Added by Rina Ayling (nee Hectorina Ayling) on 19 January 2012
The teacher is my late mother's cousin Christine Johnstone. She married Raymond Hadley who was stationed for a time in Dornoch with the RAF and moved to Dudley.

Many thanks for your comment and the additional information on Miss Johnstone - Administrator

Added by Robert Wickham on 30 September 2012
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Hidden Gems

Newspaper extract of Naval Reservists departing from Embo StationDornoch HotelChambered cairn at EmboClubhouse and Old 18th Green, Royal Dornoch Golf CourseNew Embo Lifeboat September 1886