Edinvillie and Ben Rinnes Edinvillie - A Brief History

The area surrounding Edinvillie including Ben Rinnes has been home to settlers since prehistoric times, there is evidence all around the area of hut circles, cairns and field systems. A prehistoric flint flake knife was discovered on Ben Rinnes and there have been many cairns discovered on Meikle Conval, even an Iron Age fort on Little Conval.

Edinvillie in the snow
Edinvillie is also recorded as a possible site of a medieval Manor and Barony, recorded as part of the 'Castles, Manors and Townhouses' Survey 1991. The same survey pinpoints ruins dating back to medieval times (and in certain places, even earlier) at most of the properties that are still homes and farms around the district: Upper Blairnain, Boginduie Croft, The Mill, Blackstank, North Polduie and Whitehouse to name but a few.
Edinvillie was purchased, as an estate in 1886 by John Findlay, the Laird of Aberlour, from the Earl of Fife. There used to be twenty four crofts on the Beatshach just above Edinvillie until the 1880s when the Laird, John Richie Findlay, cleared the Beatshach to create a grouse moor. All of the crofters were evicted and one resident, Jack Middleton, refusing to leave his croft had his croft demolished around him as he sat inside. These were known locally as the Speyside Evictions. The Beatshach and Meikle Conval still house the ruins of many of these crofts.
Shearers Cottage on the BeatshachList of the tenants of the Beatshach 1851- 1853

Click on the image to view the list of tenants on the Beatshach during 1851 - 1853. The list shows the amount of land, arable, pasture and common land rented out to the tenants and the revenue raised. The image far left shows the ruins of the croft rented by 'Widow Shearer' No 10 on the list. click to view.

Madge Gordon Croft on the Beatshach
Two more buildings from the 'clearances' - Madge Gordon's croft ruins on the left and a small croft on the right that has been slightly renovated for animal sheltering
Benrinnes pdf fileThe link between Edinvillie and Benrinnes Distillery can be traced back to 1829 when the first reference to a Peter McKenzie was recorded as the licensed distiller. According to local tradition, the distillery was located near Whitehouse Farm until it was swept away in the Great Flood of 1829. The present site was built on in 1835, extended and altered until approximately 1896 when a rather destructive fire demanded a remodelling and rebuilding project.

Diageo, the present owners of the Benrinnes Distillery have provided an historical insight into these facts through a publication from 1982 out of their own archives, which can be dowloaded in P.D.F. format by clicking the image to the left. This document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.
Edinvillie SchoolPrior to the Education Act in 1870 Edinvillie had two schools, one was in the village which had an earthen floor & a thatched roof and the other was situated at Whitehouse, but as a result of the Education Act a new school was built and opened on the 5th February 1875 and was to remain open for two hundred and fifty years.
An entry in the school log book (1874 - 1911) dated December 4th 1874 reads: "There has been no regular school here for some considerable time. Children consequently very far back, principally in Writing and Arithmetic. Not more than three or four have any acquaintance with Geography, Grammar or History."
The entry for February 5th 1875 reads: "On Tuesday made our exit from temporary school to the new school. Teacher permanently appointed on Thursday. Messrs Fleming, Stewart & Edwards, (members of The School Board), visited the school in order to see what was required for the efficient conduct of the school." There are regular entries in the log book referring to boys leaving school for "spring work, herding, harvesting, turnip planting, potato planting and peat cutting" throughout as they were required at home to assist in the normal running of the crofts.

Edinvillie Children 1902  Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1902 - 1905
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Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1902 - 1905
(note in the righthand picture a small boy on the front row still unshod!)

A soup kitchen was erected in May 1890 to feed the children a hot meal whilst attending, the Laird provided rabbits, local farmers donated potatoes & turnips and the children performed annual concerts to raise the funds for these hot meals. The first hot meals being served from December 12th 1890 until April 10th 1891 and carried on being served usually between December and April each year.
One such performance, in March 1905, to raise funds for hot meals saw a 'crowded house' and was an 'unqualified success' raising £12.00. The Schoolmaster wrote 'Large takings indeed for a little country parish like this' Further additions to the school over the next few years included another blackboard and a world globe in 1881. The School Board provided half of the funds for a piano in 1896 & the children performed a concert to raise money for the other half. A library was later added in 1905.

Unknown date  Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1922
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Edinvillie Schoolchildren, lefthand image an unknown date, righthand image 1922

Edinvillie School's first Christmas treeNovember 20th 1896 entry to the school log tells of a "falling off in the attendance of scholars due to the presence of a steam threshing machine in the district for most of the week". This was obviously quite a rare sight and a treat for the local children and adults alike.
The children received New Year gifts regularly from Mr Findlay, the Laird, and were treated to an annual picnic at Aberlour House. On the 9th November 1900 the children were treated to 'entertainment' in the Fleming Hall by Mrs Findlay on the occasion of one of her daughters' marriage.

Other entertainment was rarely seen, although there are entries in the school log referring to visit to The Manse for a 'Magic Lantern Show', children absent from school because of a travelling Ventriloquist, Bostock's Menagerie and the school closed for a picnic and bonfire on Ben Rinnes to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. School was closed in 1893 to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of York to Princess May and also on September 23rd 1907 for the King's visit to Aberlour.

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Bonfire on Ben Rinnes  Bostocks' Menagerie C.1900
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations bonfire on top of Ben Rinnes
and a rare glimpse of the exotic in Bostock's Menagerie (click to view)

Names of scholars who attended irregularly were taken by the School Attendance Officer who sometimes visited the homes of missing scholars, occasionally returning to school with the odd boy in tow. In June 1901 the School Board made the decision to prosecute any family that kept the scholars at home. In August of the same year the parents were warned by letter of this decision, attendance average for that week rose from 75% of scholars to 91.2% and remained high for the next few months when it started trailing off again.

The parents were again threatened with prosecution in November 1902 and again the attendance levels rose, the authorities had quite a battle with the local crofters over the years as the older children were expected to help out with the sowing & harvesting of the crops. It was a difficult scenario for both sides but invariably the threat of prosecution won out and the scholars attended.

Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1930  Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1940

Edinvillie Schoolchildren 1930 and 1940
(click to view)

The weather seemed quite harsh in the winters of the late 1890's and the attendance was often dependent on the weather. The average school role was 98 scholars and during times of extreme weather the attendance quite often dropped to only one scholar, as a result the school was regularly closed for days due to 'violent & raging snow storms', 'country roads blocked with snowfall' and non attendance of scholars. The first mention recorded in the school log book of a snow plough clearing the 'country roads' was in 1904.
There is also an entry referring to the temperature inside the school as being so cold that 'all of the inkwells froze' and 'it was so cold the scholars could not hold their pens'. Evening School was opened on October 25th 1893 in an effort to 'suit the needs' of the community, it met every Monday & Wednesday evening. The grants to run the schools were awarded on the number of scholars & the scholastic ability meeting the standards set. In 1892 the grant awarded to Edinvillie School was £86.7/-6d and slowly dwindled in 1903 it was £ 78.4/- and in 1904 £73.16/- 9d. The Evening School, in 1894 was granted £9.3/-6d but a year later was only granted £4.12/-6d.
There were health issues within the community with epidemics being regularly recorded of:- Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox, Influenza Scarlet Fever and Whooping Cough and the school was closed during January and February 1902 by medical certificate for an outbreak of Typhoid Fever in the village, not to mention the standard coughs and colds that went through the school like wildfire on a regular basis.
Below are the two pages of the School Inspector's Report, dated 13th May 1895, which shows the School Board are not at all impressed with the attendance record of the school, to the point that the grant payment was to be withheld until an explanation was made. An entry on September 25th 1905 shows that the attendances of the older children was still a huge issue for the Schoolmaster, he writes:- There are 13 boys away "Beating" for grouse shooting. Should be stopped, as it is not good enough. Attendance during the Harvest is bad enough without being made worse in this intolerable manner'

School report entry page 1  School report entry page 2

In 1922 there were over two million homes in Britain with electricity and by 1939 there were eleven million homes with power but it took until 1951 to reach Edinvillie, until this time paraffin lamps were the order of the day. As the National Grid grew and expanded Edinvillie ceased to be too far from the civilised world for mains electricity to reach, the rest, as they say, is history.
There were several outlets for various provisions in the 1930s in Edinvillie: The Mill would charge wet and dry batteries and also sold paraffin. During the 1940's and 50's a van from Dufftown sold milk and fruit, this was a particular favourite with the children as they could exchange their ration coupons for sweets once a month. Milk could also be purchased from the Smiddy, down by the ford.
The last ever Edinvillie School photo 2000 The school caught fire on 25th June 1959 as a result of a painter's blow torch and the newly built Community Hall became substitute classrooms until the school was ready and re-opened on the 12th October 1959, the hall continued from then on to be used as the school gymnasium.
The bell tower was removed after the fire as it was so badly damaged, leaving just a small flat area where it used to be.

One of the highlights for the children of the school in the 1970's was the annual picnic on the Beatshach, although there were some moans about the trek up to the Beatshach being rather wearying on little legs. The G.P. room, inside toilets and a kitchen were added in 1974 and the first computers were introduced towards the end of the 1980s. The decision was made to close the school on the 15th November 1999 at the end of the summer term & was sold the same year. The local children were, from then on, sent to the schools in nearby Aberlour.

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