Work and Commerce



Up to the 1960s most farms practised someform of mixed farming i.e. they grewcommercial as well as “fodder” crops. The main crops sold off the farm were wheat,barleyand potatoes. The fodder crops wereoats, turnips and grass/hay.

During the depression in farming in the 1920sand 1930s much of the arable laid was laiddown to grass. Crop production only started increasing again with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 (“Dig or Plough forVictory”).

Cattle kept in the area increased and wereeither reared locally or were bought in as“stores” e.g. from highland Perthshire, to befattened and later sold at Perth market onMondays, when local butchers bought theirmeat “on the hoof”.











Fishing Families

Many families in Abernethy and District were traditionallysalmon fishers. The same surnames appear down theyears from the late 18th century right up to the present timewhen salmon netting is all but ended.The importance of salmon fishing to the community isindicated by the following figures:

In 1796, 40 men from the parish crewed 20 boats fora wage of 6s6d per week “with what trout they catch”. By the 1850’s 70 men “were at the fishing, having recourse to the loom during the winter months”.Wages had risen to circa 15s per week.

In the 1901 census 58 men were classed as salmon fishers and wages had risen to 21s 6d per week.Numbers of fishermen began to drop after 1900 as operating fishing stations fell from over 100 to under 20 by 1970’s. Wages had, however, improved to £12per week in 1965.It is ironic that a male-only occupationis now represented by a woman fisher at the last netting station on the Earn and Tay, namely Mrs Nan Jarvis at Ferryfield.

Some of the fisher families are listed below.Kemps; Scobies; Doigs; Haggarts; Ramsays; Powries;Scotlands; Betts; Jarvises; Wilkies; Johnstons.


Soft Fruit (Fruit pickers seen in Station Road, with Castlelaw in the background)

Apples, Pears, Plums and Damsons in the Abernethy Area

  1. Most gardens had a fruit tree, normally a cooking apple (Codling, Bramley Seedling or such) or dessert e.g.Beauty of Bath, Irish Peach.Since this museum opened in 2000, awareness of Scottish ‘Heritage’ varieties has grown (eg. Bloody Ploughman), and there has been an attempt to restore some orchards in the Carse of Gowrie. Most of the private orchards once common in Abernethy have disappeared, but in the 21st century fruit trees area gain being planted in the village for the benefit of thepublic.
  2. A few pear trees also
  3. The ‘Big houses’ e.g. Ayton, Carpow had a wide rangein walled gardens–a wide selection ofapples, pears,plums as well as peaches and apricots (sometimes inspecial greenhouses).
  4. Commercial fruit growing was limited to the following:
  • (a) John Sandilands-The Orchard, planted late C19th
  • (b) Alex Sandilands-Marylea, planted 1902
  • (c) Andrew Haggart-Earndale, planted c 1900-1910
  • (d) Thomson-Cordon Farm, planted late C19th
  • (e) John Saunders-Thornbank, planted c 19105. Main production was apples, mainly cooking but with afew dessert varieties e.g. Beauty of Bath, James Grieve,Charles Ross.Main cookers–Grenadier, Lane’s Prince Albert, BramleySeedling.Plums–mainly Victoria but also Czar (purple) andWarwickshire Drooper (yellow).Pears–Conference, Louise Bonne de Jersey, Pitmaston Duchess, (oldest Scottish pear orchard at Lindores Abbey,varieties unknown).


Shops and businesses

Abernethy was once a typical Scottish village, self-sufficient in all goods, with carry out fast food, a baker, bank, corner shop (above), drapers and the famous Tower factory works. Many details of the shops and businesses that once occupied the village can be found in the museum,