Ancestry UK

Industrial School for Girls / Balgay School / Parkview School, Dundee, Angus (Forfarshire), Scotland

Prior to 1896, the Dundee Industrial School for Girls was housed in premises at Ward Street, Dundee, which were originally shred with the Boys' Industrial School. By the 1890s, the growing unsuitability of the location led to plans being made for a move to more spacious accommodation in the countryside. A site was acquired on Blackness Road, Balgay Park, Dundee, plans produced by local architects, Messrs James Maclaren and Sons, and building work began in May 1894. The foundation stone of the new building were laid on 17 September 1894. The premises were formally accredited to operate as an Certified Industrial School on 2 June 1896, accommodating up to 100 girls, aged 6 to 16 years at their date of admission. The girls moved to their new quarters on 24 June.

The main building was in the form of a hollow square, 164 feet long and 160 feet deep. The site is shown on the 1900 map below.

Dundee Industrial School for Girls site, Dundee, c.1900.

Dundee Industrial School for Girls, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Mrs Mitchell, the matron at Ward Street, continued in the same post at the new location. Other staff initially comprised the teacher, Miss Sime; assistant teacher, Miss Craig; sewing mistress, Miss Mitchell; a house mistress, and a cook.

An inspection in 1899 recorded 121 inmates in the school, including one voluntary case and eight out on licence. The senior girls were receiving special instruction in cookery from a duly qualified teacher. They had also had a course of lessons in laundry work. Some were being instructed in dress-making. Musical drill with dumb-bells was carried on regularly but the gymnasium was not being used as well as it might and it was recommended that a qualified instructress should be engaged to attend once or twice a week to take the girls through various useful exercises. Walks were taken twice a week, and there had been various picnics and other treats during the year. The school was well supplied as regards means for recreation. Croquet and lawn tennis could be played on the grass. and there were now various little garden plots for the girls to cultivate.

Mrs Mitchell departed on 15 September 1906 and was replaced by Miss M. Davidson. She left 11 October 1907 and was succeeded by Miss Margaret J. Ross. A mark system was now in operation in the classroom, giving awards for good performance. A library was added to the school courtesy of Mr James Coates.

In 1933, the establishment became an Approved School, one of the new institutions introduced by the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. Renamed Balgay School, accommodated up to 120 girls, aged from 6 to 16 years at their date of admission.

During the Second World War, the premises were taken over by the military and the school was evacuated to Balnaboth, Glenprosen, Kirriemuir, Angus. In 1943, it was noted that the establishment provided practical instruction in cookery, laundrywork, needlework and housewifery. The headmistress was now Miss C. Gray.

The 1968 Social Work (Scotland) Act aimed to bring Approved Schools in Scotland under the control of local authority social work departments. As a result of a title in a list drawn up by the Scottish Education Department, Balgay became referred to as a 'List D' school. Following a decline in numbers being placed at the school, it finally closed in 1983.

The premises were subsequently occupied by the independent Parkview School, providing secondary education and residential care to boys with behavioural difficulties. Parkview in closed 2009 and in 2013 the buildings were converted to residential use.

Former Dundee Industrial School for Girls — entrance lodge, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Dundee Industrial School for Girls, 2017. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Dundee Industrial School for Girls, 2017. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Dundee Industrial School for Girls, 2017. © Peter Higginbotham


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