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The Bruce Family, Broomfold, Kinnoir

(Contributed by Irvine and Philip Bruce)

Bert (Robert) and Ella Bruce married on 19 April 1947 and that year purchased the farm of Broomfold midway between Cobairdy and Kinnoir School. Post war, times were hard and without a car for the first 18 months, Bert cycled to Huntly mart and then took a lift home in the float with purchased stock.

A mobile grocer, fish and clothing sales vans would visit the farm and sometimes Broomfold eggs as well as butter and cheese made by Ella were used for barter.

2-3 farm staff were employed initially as bachelors who stayed in the farm “chammer” and who were fed by Ella. In 1955 Bert built 2 semi-detached cottages and over the following 21 years only 3 families lived in the cottages as Bert benefitted from loyal staff.

Bert was an outstanding farmer and, in particular, he was very proud of his excellent new potatoes which were sold locally to shops and chip shops in Huntly. He was also renowned for his beef cattle which were sold at the Huntly Cattle Market and were much sought after when they came under the auctioneer’s hammer. Local butcher, Forbes Raeburn, used to make sure he bought Bert’s prize winners from the Xmas show and even in 2017 the picture of one of the prize winners remains on display in the shop in Huntly!  Huntly housewives completed the circle by making sure that, at some point over Christmas, they had a steak dinner from the Christmas prize winner from Broomfold and Forbes Raeburn!

Bert and Ella had two sons – Irvine and Philip – who had a memorable childhood in Broomfold. Both benefitted from excellent schooling from Mrs Baird and her staff at Kinnoir School from 1954 till 1963 when they moved to Gordon Schools Huntly. During the school holidays there were often pals at the farm to help with picking tatties, feeding lambs etc. for pocket money. Both Bert and Ella made Philip and Irvine’s friends very welcome and their hospitality –whether in the form of a steaming cup of Hot Chocolate on a cold morning or a lift to the football match in Huntly or Aberdeen -  were  much appreciated by all.

The 1950’s were the heyday for summer evening football for men and part of a grass field at Broomfold was kept short for Kinnoir FC to compete against other teams such as Forgue, Marnoch, Rothiemay and Glenbarry. Competition at these matches could be intense and the support very partisan. On one occasion three bus loads of New Pitsligo supporters arrived to support their team and, when the referee made a decision which seemed to favour Kinnoir, they took to taunting him with verbal abuse and threats. Whether these were meant to be serious or not, the referee was happy to get home safely that night!!

Whether the football was top class or not was not the point as the occasion and the entertainment provided was great for the rural community. The evening highlights for the youngsters at the matches was when Joe Borzoni’s ice cream arrived!

Bert’s enthusiasm for football was clear to see and he was asked by Jimmy Roy to help with Huntly FC which at the time was struggling financially. Bert became the chairman and worked with the farming community to raise funds from sales at Huntly Mart and holding Barn Dances at Cairnie.

Bert was known to offer farm vegetables as a win bonus and he was delighted when Huntly won the Bells Cup in 1973. Unfortunately, not long after that, Bert suffered some ill-health and had to withdraw from his active support of the club but his enthusiasm and positive contribution were sorely missed.

Bert and Ella sold Broomfold in 1976 and moved into Anderson Drive in Aberdeen where they lived a long and happy retirement.

Irvine became a livestock specialist latterly based in Insch and is married to Hazel – they have one son George and a grandson.

Philip moved to England to work with ICI and is married to Elaine – they have a son and daughter and three grandchildren.

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