Ancestry UK

West Parish / St Cuthbert's Industrial School, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

The St Cuthbert's (or West Parish) Industrial School was established in 1847 and occupied premises at the south side of what was then Tobago Street, Edinburgh, later becoming 75 Morrison Street. Unlike a number of other similar institutions in the city, the school appears not to have provided residential facilities or become a Certified Industrial School.

The school site is shown on the 1852 map below.

West Parish / St Cuthbert's Industrial School site, Edinburgh, c.1852.

The establishment subsequently transferred from the property fronting directly onto Tobago Street to a building at at its rear.

The school closed in 1902. An account at that time recorded that:

The school was instituted by the kirk-session of Cuthbert's in 1847 and was stated in their records to have been for the "Christian training of children who on account of the poverty and carelessness, if not worthlessness of their parents were otherwise left altogether untaught and abandoned to beggary and vice." In accordance with that intention, the school has all along been conducted on the lines of providing, not only for the secular education of the children of the parish, but for their religious and moral training, and for the supply of their physical wants. One of the features of the school's operations has always been the providing of daily meals for the children in attendance. Although at the outset, and for many years thereafter, it was no doubt great benefit and means of good, latterly it was questionable whether that was the case. Although spoken of as an industrial school, it was doubtful whether it was ever entitled to the appellation. The children were certainly taught to sew, but the only industry actually carried on was the splitting of firewood as a source of income; and after being placed under Government inspection in 1885, the provisions of the time-table of the day school did not allow of such industrial work being continued. An effort had been made by engaging the services of more highly-paid teachers to secure results on a level obtained by the ordinary Board Schools, but the recent reports H.M. Inspectors had not been favourable to the continuance of the higher standards, and for years pupils competent for standards above II. had been passed to the Board schools. The attendance had materially diminished, and now included only very young or very backward children, and in those circumstances the expediency of closing the school had been brought under consideration. Another circumstance which pointed to the adoption of that measure was that children from different quarters were brought together having the depressing experience common that their parents were either unwilling or unable to support them and in their enforced association learning but too easily look upon a position of dependence on others for their daily bread as quite an ordinary condition of things. It had been resolved not to reopen after the approaching of summer holidays. The question had thus arisen the disposal of the funds belonging to the institution, revenue from which, roughly speaking, amounted at present to £275. It was proposed that they should be applied to paying all the expenses connected with the winding up of the school and to handing over St Cuthbert's Kirk-Session for investment as a capital fund to be entitled St Cuthbert's Mission, that the operations which had hitherto been conducted in the school might be carried on, with the exception of secular education. These operations included a work society and clothing club, and number of classes. The trustees also desired to make provision for a hall for divine service, a gymnasium, and sowing-room. The invested funds, exclusive other assets, amounted to £7,600.

The buildings no longer survive.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.


  • None noted at present.