Throughout history, Moray has stimulated a strong sense of entrepreneurship and innovation. People often made their living working for family businesses, many of which were established as a result of Moray’s fertile agricultural land … from food, drink and textiles, Moray has been a manufacturing powerhouse for centuries, with Elgin becoming a strong focal point. But it had to start from small beginnings … just one idea and being brave enough to go for it!
One of Elgin’s less conspicuous but interesting properties was home to one such entrepreneur. ‘Jock Inkson’s House’ is better known today as 92e High Street in Elgin. Some of you will remember this property as quirky shop premises in the more recent past but, like so many other town centre properties, it was originally built for residential purpose. During the early 19th Century, it was part of the Fife Arms Close, which later became known as the Picture House Close. Jock was seemingly a colourful character, well known for building up a successful fruit and vegetable business … all from his well-kennt horse-drawn cart. While he managed to store his merchandise in the large basement area of the property, there was no room for his faithful horse, which was carefully tethered in stables close by at the entrance to South Street. The stables were eventually replaced by the Lido buildings, across from the site of the Picture House, built in 1926 with a seating capacity for over 700. Seemingly, the people of Elgin saw one of the first talking pictures in 1930.
As Elgin spread its reach beyond the central core of the medieval town, new streets and lanes were gradually created. It is interesting to see so many of them called after not just the great and the good of the town, but also those memorable characters who made their own indelible mark on local heritage. Jock’s memory lives on in the naming of Jock Inkson’s Brae, just off Old Mills Road – another reminder of those who remain engrained in the fabric of our town.
Elgin Museum has been a great source of valuable information in investigating this and other areas of Elgin’s rich history. We are grateful to local author, Jenny Main, and to the Museum’s volunteers for allowing us to access their fascinating collection https://www.elginmuseum.org.uk