Norman Edwards Photos

Norman contacted Kemnay Community Council on 24 January 2017 offering to donate some of his photographs of Kemnay/Kemnay Folk in the 1920s and 1930s, to the community.  Norman being the grandson of Henry J Edwards who was the bank manager at Kemnay until 1953 and then retired to Coreen in Bridge Road – both his father, Harry, and aunt, Jean, were brought up in Kemnay and went to the Academy and then Aberdeen University.  He spent many happy holidays, often extended holidays, with his Grandad and Grandma between 1951 and 1969.  His Grandma died in 1978 and he has only visited the village twice since then and he now lives on the Isle of Man.

The photos are mostly, if not all, taken by G Cruickshank who had a photographic studio in the village.  The photos include the Shakespeare plays which used to be performed by the school pupils in the Kemnay House woods, the opening of the tennis courts in 1924, and various other subjects.

Norman provided the following notes on the photos as follows:

  1. The gentleman in the white suit, who also appears in a few other photos, is the original owner, or was an early owner, of the hardware and general household goods shop which is now Co-Op Food in the square on the corner of St Bryde’s Road. I used to know his name but have completely forgotten it.
  1. The theatrical events were the annual performances of Shakespeare plays in the woods of Kemnay House.
  1. The gentleman pictured alone and in academic/clerical outfit may be the inter-war period headmaster, J Minto Robertson who had a profound and positive effect on my aunt Jean and my father Harry, and was apparently much respected. I cannot find any definite photographs of him to confirm that, though, so I may be completely wrong

I’ve also enclosed a photocopy of some material collected by my grandfather on ‘the Kemnay Strike’, which may be of interest to you.  I fit into this story because between 1951 and 1953 I lived in the Bank House with my parents and grandparents. In 1953 we moved to Aberdeen and I regularly visited Kemnay, probably every other weekend, until we moved to England in 1957. At one point, I spent several months in Kemnay. I had several friends in the village, including the son of Peg Brown (whose house is now a Chinese takeaway, I think) and the son of the station master, Mr Pratt.

Kemnay has a very fond place in my heart, although it is much changed since the 1950s when it was a small village of ca. 600 people. I last visited in 2004.  My two sisters and I are delighted that these photographs are returning to Kemnay.

Norman also provided six family photos and the notes below correspond to the first 6 photos in the gallery.

  1. My grandfather, Henry J Edwards, back row centre, with the very bald head
  2. My grandfather, Henry J Edwards, far right with hat, raincoat and stick
  3. My aunt, Jean McGregor Edwards, front row, 3rd from the left wearing the Egyptian (?) head dress.
  4. My aunt, Jean McGregor Edwards, in black at the rear, slightly blurred
  5. My aunt, Jean McGregor Edwards, front row seated (not one of the two at the front), 4th from the right wearing a light coloured dress.
  6. My aunt, Jean McGregor Edwards, seated the front row wearing an all black long dress.

Biographical Notes


Born in Lumsden in 1893, he worked in the old North of Scotland Bank before enlisting as one of the original members of the Tank Corps in 1915. His military history is another story altogether. On demobilisation he rejoined the Bank and was based at Portsoy before transferring to Kemnay as the accountant in 1921 and then manager from 1924. He retired in 1953 and he and his wife Jeannie moved from the Bank House to Coreen in Bridge Road where he died in 1963, aged 69. My grandmother stayed at Coreen until she became too infirm to live alone and moved to live with my parents in England in 1975 where she died in 1978. Both are buried  in Kemnay kirkyard.


Jean was born in 1919 and attended Kemnay Academy where I think that she was the first female Dux. She went on to study German at Aberdeen and shortly after graduation was recruited to work at Bletchley Park where she worked in Hut 6, translating intercepted and decoded Luftwaffe messages. In 1945, my father Harry (born 1923 in Monymusk) was at the University of Aberdeen studying medicine. Jean wasn’t sure what she was going to do now the war was over but liked the look of his course so studied medicine. Shortly after qualifying she worked at Stracathro Hospital and then joined the Royal Canadian Air force as a doctor. On her return to the UK she became a school doctor in Leigh, Lancashire until she retired. She died in Bolton in 2000, aged 81. Both she and my father are commemorated on my grandparents grave although neither is buried there as they both died in England.

Additional Information
The house with the monkey puzzle tree is definitely not Coreen, which was a single-storey bungalow, pebble dash with 2 bay windows at the front and was built in 1953, on land which was sold to Grandad by Mrs Beattie who lived just down Bridge Road in the last house Bridgend (demolished to erect 10 flats 2006-2007), on the right  just before the bridge. The garden at the rear extended round behind Norman Lawrence’s garage (a large corrugated iron shed) and he was always very keen to buy either the garden or Coreen or both so he could expand. When my Grandmother finally became too infirm to live alone, in about 1975, I think, she moved down to live with my parents in Warwickshire and my father (Harry) and aunt Jean cleared Coreen and sold it to, if I remember correctly, a pilot who was working out of Dyce.
Among other people I remember are Bob Yeats the butcher, Pickfords (or ‘Pickers’ ) paper shop, Bunty’s shop on the corner of the square, and Troups which I think was the chemists, as well as ‘The Old Miller’ and his friends sitting in their usual spot on a bench outside the Post Office, as well as The Raws down by the quarry, with a very old couple – Sandy Alexander and his wife – still living above his sett-cutting workshop.

The house in Bridge Road “Coreen” and adjacent Garage has since been demolished and would appear to have been replaced by the house named “Kardale”

The 6 family photos were returned to Norman as requested and the remainder of the photos are in the possession of Kemnay Village Hall Management Committee.

See Also

General History

Kemnay Kirk Strike