Former children's homes in Scotland


This website has not delved too deeply into former childrens homes in Scotland as several resources (see below) seemed to be doing the job already.


However, if you would like to share memories or ask questions about Scottish former children's homes, you would be very welcome.


And we also feature messages about homes in Scotland on our message board which you are welcome to browse and add to.



Can anyone help?


Jane asks: "I am wondering if you have any details of a childrens home that was in Irvine in Scotland in 1966/7? Do you have any information about the possible name and whether any records from that time have survived. I have no idea where to start in seeing if records still exist. Any help would be fab."


Please email if you know anything of this home. Thank you!



Finding your records in Scotland




If you are interested in trying to find your records of your own time in, you will first need to establish in which council area your children's home was in.


Different councils do things differently but a next step is to make a subject access request to the council. For more details on this, check out our page here


Subject Access Requests are for any information or data a council may hold about an individual so it is important to stress on the form that this is about time spent in care and give as much details about dates and places as you can.


You have a legal right to see any 'data'or information that the council holds about you. However, there may be legal reasons for this being withheld (eg. it names other family members) or the records may have been lost over time.



Scottish Councils


This is a list of Scottish Councils as they currently exist. The list includes the Council's main website homepage and also the link to making a subject access request from that council.


Please be aware that while I have taken great care to find the apppropriate link, these are external websites and so I have no control over any changes that the website may make over time. 


Aberdeen City Council

Making a Subject Access Request


Aberdeenshire Council

Making a Subject Access Request


Angus Council

Making a Subject Access Request


Argyll and Bute Council

Making a Subject Access Request


City of Edinburgh Council

Making a Subject Access Request


Clackmannanshire Council

Making a Subject Access Request


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Western Isles

Making a Subject Access Request




The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry


The Socttish Child Abuse Enquiry is still underway. Full details can be found on the official inquiry website:


Please note: the site includes case studies and reports which are extremely disturbing.


If you have been affected by abuse in children's homes, you might want to ensure that you have some support available before you read it. (In Care Survivors Service Scotland has a free helpline - see below)


If you want to contact the enquiry, these are the details while the Inquiry is running:


By post to:

PO BOX 24085, Edinburgh, EH7 9EA


By telephone at:

0800 0929 300



Former Children's Homes in Scotland


The Scottish Chld Abuse Inquiry has named specific children's homes in Scotland in its reports so far. These are listed below.



Aberlour Children's Trust



The Trust ran several children's homes at different times including:


Aberlour Orphanage, Moray ( founded 1875, closed 1967)

This comprised a number of houses (at least 8) plus a nursery, hospital facilities and a farm. This mirrored the cottage homes styles of children's home that was common in England and Wales in this period.  The orphanage also had a holiday home on the coast -  Hopeman, Moray, opened 1935 . A new nursery was built in 1953 called the Princess Margaret Residential Nursery School. While the orphanage could accommodate 450 children initially, fires in 1931 and 1937 caused so much damage that the number of beds was reduced to 300 or 350.



Aberlour Orphanage recently featured on the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?
Details can be found on this page.

Following a similar pattern in most homes in England, the 1960s saw a transition in the Trust from the large orphanage to small 'family' homes.

When the orphanage closed in 1967 there were the following small homes:


Aberdeen (three homes)


Bridge of Don







Other small homes were founded over the next couple of decades.


For information on accessing records, please go to the Aberlour website (see below)



Quarriers Village



Quarrier's Village, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire

Quarriers was founded in 1871 by philanthropist William Quarrier, who made his fortune by starting  as a pin maker. He first called his philanthropic endeavours the 'Orphan and Destitute Children's Emigration Homes' which illustrates the importance he placed on migrating children abroad. Between 1872 and 1938 Quarriers arranged for more than 7,000 children to be sent abroad mostly to Canada, with some going to Australia. The organisation has since apologised for the harm this did to these children. Latterly, the organisaton called The Orphan Homes of Scotland.


We have a page here about child migration.


The village was a self-contained community included 40 children's cottages, a church, a school, a fire station, workshops, and working farms not unlike the cottage homes model which was common in England during the same time. The Homes continued until late into the twentieth century.


To access records, please visit the Quarriers website (see below)



The Sisters of Nazareth 



The order ran orphanages in Scotland:


Nazareth House, Aberdeen 1862-1983

Nazareth House, Kilmarnock 1891-1981

Nazareth House, Cardonald 1902-1885

Nazareth House, Lasswade 1931-1984


(For more on Nazareth House orphanages, including accessing records, please visit our page on this)









During the second World War, Barnardo's (Dr Barnardo's as it was known), acquired some large houses (around nine) in Scotland in which to evacuate children from high risk areas of England.


After the War, they moved towards using some of these houses, and some others the charity acquired, for Scottish children in their care.


Post-War, Barnado's had the following children's homes: 


Blackford Brae, Edingburgh

Balcary Home, Hawick *

Redholm, North Berwick

Cloan House, Auchterarder*

Haldane House

Comlongon Castle, Dunfriesshire*

Castlemilk, Dumfriesshire*



* These were originally evacuation homes for English children


Most of these homes closed in the 1970s with some continuing until the 1980s.


For information about accessing records, please see our page on Barnardo's





Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul



The order accommodated around 20,000 children in Scotland between 1864 and 1999.


Smyllum Park Orphanage, Lanark 1864-1981


Bellevue Children's Home, Rutherglen 1912-1961


Please see our page on this order for informaiton about accessing records.




Martha Frew Children's Home



The link below wll take you through to a blog of memories about Martha Frew Children's Home, Dunfermline.


Martha Frew Children [external site]


Aberlour Orphanage

Aberlour Orphanage, Moray (around 12 miles south of Elgin) took in children from 1875 to 1967, although the charity bearing its name still operates today.

For information about Aberlour Orphanage and access to records, please go to the website of the present Aberlour Children's Charity. [external site]

The Orphan Homes of Scotland

William Quarrier, in the 1870s, established a village of homes in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire (15 miles south of Glasgow). 

The work to support children continues under the name 'Quarriers'.

For information on accessing records and the history of the homes, please visit the Quarriers website.

Annual reports from the Oprhan Homes can be found at this page on the Golden Bridge site. [external site]

A massive resource of photographs exists at The Golden Bridge site which looks at child migration from Scotland to Canada (including from the Orphan Homes and Barnardos) between 1869 and 1939. [external site]


In Care Survivors Service Scotland

In Care Survivors Service Scotland (ICSSS) provides a variety of services to anyone over 16 years old who experienced any form of abuse while in a formal care setting as a child.

Services include:

  • Counselling
  • Advocacy
  • Free helpline
  • Befriending
  • Access to records database

Free helpline

 0800 121 6027

 Monday to Friday 9am-11am 


Poor Law in Scotland

A colection of copies of Poor Law Magazines has been digitised and is now available in searchable pdf format. Makes for a very interesting read.

See the collection here. [external site]




Children's Homes in Scotland:

reclaiming lost childhoods


Gudrun Limbrick of this Former Children's Homes website was invited this September to give a presentation in Glasgow about the work of this website.


The event, held at the University of Strathclyde was entitled 'Reclaiming Lost Childhoods' and Gudrun was joined by a speaker from the Australian children's homes web resource Find and Connect, a number of Scottish initiatives and a number of care leavers.


This was an excellent opportunity to share the learning from this website which has grown enormously over the last couple of years and a great chance to talk with care leavers and organisations in Scotland to talk about sharing information on former children's homes in Scotland.


Some of the organisations and initiatives represented or mentioned at the event are listed above. 

Andrew Kendrick, of the University of Strathclyde giving the welcoming address to the Reclaiming Lost Childhoods conference