Skip Navigation To Main content

Born: Mary Murray 1911 Gorebridge

I wis a right keelyI was born in Arniston, Gorebridge on the 3rd of January 1911. I had a big house; two rooms up the stairs and a parlour downstairs. My dad worked in the sawmills and we moved to Newmills when I was a toddler. I had five brothers and one sister. I was in the middle.

I went to Dalkeith High School on Croft Street. I had to walk to school, it was about a mile. I didn’t like the teachers laterally. Miss Potts was a terrible woman, she made us terrified. She wrote a verse up on the board, wiped it off and said “Mary Murray tell me the verse.”

Climbing on the roof, ah wis wildI couldn’t say a word. She used a pointer and poked it in my ribs. I was always getting the stab because I couldn’t say anything, and I wasn’t the only one. I spent most of my time crying in the playground after being strapped. At home we used to all play rounders, and we used to run across near the Unicorn and jump the wall to watch the falls.

I was 14 when I left school. I didn’t want to go to a higher grade because I wasn’t a scholar. My brother worked in a carpet shop and the overseer said he had a fine weesmall job for Mary up in the shop. I put the labels on the carpet, in the end I worked on a machine. I didn’t get paid much because every time we made a mistake we didn’t get paid. I also worked at theCollecting money for the fever and diphtheria hospital fever and diphtheria hospital up at Whitehill. My mum was friends with the matron, so I became housekeeper. I enjoyed that for about a year. I did the washing and ironing. I was fifteen. It closed down so I had to come home. It was a job getting work in those days. My mum sent me to Edinburgh to get a job, but I was feart to go in the shops. I got a job as a maid in Lugton for Mr. and Mrs. Stewart. She was an artist and Mr. Stewart had an iron mill in Musselburgh. It was a big house. I was supposed to do the cooking at night and I’d never cooked in my life! I stayed there for 9 years. I went to the Bonnyrigg dance halls and had many boyfirends. One worked in the saddler’s shops and we went together for a while, but I still wanted to go to the dancing.

Archie senior, Archie Junior and meI often thought I should have married him, I broke his heart. I got a name for always having boyfriends, but there was nothing in it. I was 24 when I went with my husband Andrew Crooks, he was 20 and a stud groom. He worked with the Clydesdale horses. He said he wouldn’t get married until he’d saved a £100 for furniture, but when the war started and the sirens blew we found a house, and he said we should get married. We did get all our furniture for £100 on George Street in Edinburgh! We lived on Wester Cowden farm, stayed there for 60 years and celebrated our diamond wedding up there. It’s all new flats now. We got married in Cranston on 22nd September 1939. My husband tried to get in the Air Force but they sent him back to work and said they’d call him up when they needed him, but he was never sent for, so he got to work on the farm. Family and Friends On 16th October 1940 I had my son Andrew Murray Crooks, people thought I was pregnant with getting married so soon but I wasn’t. I was well most of the time but I didnae half like eating plums I used to like eating plums a lot . What a bother I had having him! I wasn’t pushing. I held back instead of pushing, we didn’t know much in these days. My waters broke on the Saturday and I had him on the Monday. The midwife said not to have anymore children because I was too narrow, there was no caesareans in those days. I didn’t work again after that, I stayed at home and looked after my son and my father in law who lived next door. He was a miner. I had plenty to do with two houses. Housework was difficult, we had stone floors.

Archie and me with our Austin 16When Andrew retired we enjoyed ourselves. We would put the car away and get on the bus to Edinburgh quite a lot, and walks with the dogs. We lived at Bruce Gardens. I used to love sitting on the phone and phoning everyone.

My son brought me a parrot from Sierra Leone. I had it for 30 years. I cleaned it out every morning, it liked apple so I gave it one everyday! Polly was the parrot’s name; he used to say ‘Polly put the kettle on!’ I had two budgies. My husband died in 1999. At Christmas time he went out for a walk in the cold, and I think he got a chill. He was in the Edinburgh infirmary and got pneumonia.

Me in ma younger daysAndrew and MeAndrew Murry Crooks my son and me

I’m happy now, I have to be. I have nothing to worry about.When my family leave, I’m looked after well here at Archview lodge.




Back to top

information for screen reader users or keyboard users.To return to navigation please press F5 key

Adapted by Iain Tait