Cairneyhill Mink Part 3

Dear blog reader

Here is the 3rd and final (unless I find any other curiosities about this Cairneyhill business) part in my mini-series on mink in Cairneyhill ….




At the Rawlence’s smallholding at Burnside, Cairneyhill,near Dunfermline, is a sight that would turn any woman green with envy.

Scrambling about behind the wire of roomy cages are a score of little animals that might have strayed out of a Walt Disney cartoon.

They range in colour from a rich dark brown to black. They have bushy tails, a perky expression and a waistcoat of slate-blue fur.

They’re minks – fur coats on four legs valued at £300.

Ex WAAF, Miss Norma Rawlence, is the boss here. She looks after her valuable livestock with special care, although at the moment mink farming is a sideline.

Norma Rawlence feeds a tit-bit to one of the minks.

Norma has to devote most of her time to the ordinary business of the smallholding. Her only assistants are her two brothers, Ted and Bill. They are employed at Crombie with the Admiralty and don’t have a great deal of time to devote to the work.

It was Bill’s idea to start breeding mink. A pal of his in the navy told him how to go about it.

At the beginning of their venture the Rawlence family bought six female and three male minks, each costing £25.

So far they can’t say it’s been a paying proposition. But they hope the next few litters will recoup them.


A ‘Courier and Advertiser’ reporter, who called at Burnside, found Norma feeding what she calls ‘her dears’. But they’re very fierce and must be handled cautiously.

‘We’ve all had bad bites’ said Norma ‘but nothing serious’.

‘I can’t say we’ve been very lucky so far with our stock’ she added.

‘Minks breed only once a year. Only two of the first litter of 13 survived. And when I saw the second lot I could have cried – 14 males and one female.’

‘We sold the males – each pelt bought about £5. But naturally we want females to increase our stock’.

Fortunately minks are cheap to feed. They love such things as fish heads and vary their diet with fresh vegetables.

Norma says that at one time about 70 pelts were required to make a fur coat. But now that coats are longer more are required.

Before the war a mink coat cost anything up to £1500. Today you may have to give as much as £4000.

Mink never goes out of fashion. When a man makes a fortune he buys his wife a mink coat. This keeps up the price.

Queen Victoria started the mink fashion. She wore a mink coat on her honeymoon.

And how about a mink coat for Miss Rawlence herself? Norma ‘couldn’t care less’.

3 thoughts on “Cairneyhill Mink Part 3

  1. Lovely photograph! The lady in the picture is my aunt Norma. She was married to Willie who was a blacksmith at the Rosyth naval base. Bill Rawlence was my dad. He was a submariner during the Second World War. He often mentioned the mink farm along with a potato crisp factory which the family also tried to set up after 1945. Apparently they secured a contract to supply the Naafi at the Rosyth base. Sadly that failed as well!


    1. Hi there. How very nice to hear from you. I found your family’s business spirit absolutely fascinating. Very entrepreneurial. Best wishes. Jacqueline.


  2. The lady in the photograph is my aunt Norma. Norma was married to my uncle Willie who was a blacksmith at the Rosyth naval base. Bill Rawlence was my father. He was a submariner during the Second World War. He often mentioned the mink farm as well as the family’s attempt to set up a potato crisp factory around the same time. Apparently, they had secured a contract to provide crisps to the Naafi at Rosyth!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: