Ancestry UK

Sheriff Watson's Female School of Industry, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

In October 1841, a School of Industry was founded in Aberdeen by Sheriff William Watson to provide education and training for boys involved in street begging, vagrancy and petty pilfering. On 5 June 1843, Watson opened the Female School of Industry, an institution on similar lines for girls, which occupied premises at Long Acre. On 19th May 1845, the establishment relocated to 61 Loch Street, Aberdeen.

In 1846, the Female School became embroiled in a dispute between different religious factions in the town. The School's management committee, which was dominated by members of the Free Church, decided to bar the girls from attending services at the Established Church in the town's East Parish. Sheriff Watson, himself a member of the Free West Church, voiced his support for the committee.

A split resulted, with the Free Church faction removing all but three of the girls to temporary accommodation in part of the Free South Church School on Charlotte Street, and adopting the name Sheriff Watson's Female School of Industry. The other group continued in operation as the Aberdeen Female School of Industry.

In June 1847, the Sheriff Watson's School moved to 9 Denburn Terrace. In around 1854, with £700 raised by Watson's supporters, a property was purchased at 165 Skene Street West, where the School — becoming known as Sheriff Watson's Industrial School — continued in operation until about 1893. Unlike several other institutions in Aberdeen, the establishment never became a Certified Industrial School to take children placed by the courts.


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