Ancestry UK

Ayr Ragged / Industrial School, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

A Ragged School was established in Ayr in 1848 and subsequently occupied premises on Carrick Street, Ayr. On 13 October, 1855, the establishment was certified under Dunlop's Act to operate as a Reformatory (later reassigned as an Industrial School), allowing it to receive children placed under detention by magistrates.

The School site is shown on the 1860 map below.

Ayr Ragged and Industrial School site, Ayr, c.1860.

An inspection in 1863 recorded about 90 children in attendance. There had been several useful additions to the buildings, providing a large separate dormitory for the boys, and an enlargement of the playground. It was noted that single bedsteads had not been provided for the boys. It was suggested that sleeping the boys two in a bed this offered no advantage as to room, and many disadvantages as to supervision and ensuring good conduct and decency. The matron of the school at this date was Mrs Beattie and the schoolmaster Mr Gow. In 1865, the two married and Mr Gow became resident in the school, taking on the role of superintendent. He died in 1868, however, and was succeeded by Mr Scott, with Mrs Gow continuing as matron. Mrs Gow retired in April 1870 and Mrs Scott then took over as matron.

In June 1873, the inmates comprised 75 boys and 21 girls, the majority being voluntary cases. The boys' industrial training included gardening, tailoring, net-making, wood-chopping, and paper-bag making. Greenhouse and stove plants are were also being raised. The girls were employed in domestic pursuits and in knitting and netting. Du to the limited accommodation, many of the children slept out. It was now proposed to remove the boys to their own premises a little way out of the town, with the girls remaining at Carrick Street.

The plan came into effect at the end of 1876 when the boys were transferred to a property on St Leonard's Street, Ayr. On 14 December 1876, the Carrick Street site was certified to accommodate up to 50 girls. Mr Scott moved with the boys to the new premises and the matron at Carrick Street was now Miss Eliza Smith, with Miss Mary Bell as school-mistress. In June 1877, there were 45 girls at the school, of whom 41 were under detention.

In 1884, Miss Helen Addison replaced Miss Smith as superintendent. Miss Jane Moir was now school-mistress, Miss Imrie was sewing-mistress, and Mrs Martin was laundress. Five or six of the bigger girls worked in the laundry. The remainder did the housework and assisted in the kitchen. All were taught sewing and knitting. All the clothes were were made in the house and a good deal of washing was taken in.

Miss Laing became superintendent in 1888. By 1896, she had been succeeded by Miss Brown. An inspection that year noted that the girls performed daily half-hour Swiss drill exercises and went for a walk twice a week. Numerous treats, in the way of visits to entertainments and excursions, were organised. At least twenty of the girls went out freely on messages or in connection with the laundry. Plans were now in hand to transfer the school to a new building in a more rural situation.

The move took place early in 1899 when the girls moved to their new premises at Belmont Avenue, Ayr.

The Carrick Street building no longer exists.


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