Ancestry UK

Industrial School / Ballacloan / Dalmeny, Ramsey, Isle of Man, Isle of Man

The Ramsey Industrial School began life in the winter of 1862 as a short-term Ragged School for destitute children, founded by Miss Susannah Gibson, daughter of a local shipyard owner. In 1863, the gift of a plot of land on Shipyard Road, North Ramsey, by a Mr Callow, together with other financial contributions, led to the erection of a more permanent establishment. An 1863 directory described the aims of the new institution, which initially was restricted to girls:

An Industrial School has just been erected at North Ramsey, but at present no master is appointed. The object of the founders of this institution is the instruction of those children who have been entirely neglected by their parents, or prevented by other circumstances from partaking of all other means of instruction and improvement. In cases of extreme destitution, it is intended to provide food as well as education. The object chiefly in view at present is the rescue of poor girls for whom, if left without a home, (as is the case in many instances,) there is absolutely no rescue and no hope. These girls will be trained to habits of order and industry, and every way fitted for domestic service. The school will be supported by voluntary contributions. The number of children received will, therefore, depend upon the amount of the subscriptions. With the exception of two very little children, whose extremely destitute condition first suggested the idea of the school, no provision at present is made for boys. It is, however, to be hoped that the institution will meet with that patronage it so justly deserves, so that in a short time not only the poor girls, but the most destitute of the male children may be received, clothed, and educated within its walls. We need not dwell on the benevolence of the founders, in bringing into existence an institution so noble in its object and so beneficial in its results; yet, we doubt not but in after years, many there are who will look back with a grateful eye on the originators of this institution, as being the instrument of redeeming them from a life of darkness and ignorance, and raising them to stations in life quite unattainable but for the good-will and kindness of the benevolent and esteemed founders of the Ramsey Industrial School.

It should be noted that although the establishment was referred to as an Industrial School, it was not in the same category as the Certified Industrial Schools operating elsewhere in the British Isles that house children placed by there by magistrates' courts.

Following her (by now bankrupt) father's death in around 1870s, Miss Gibson lived in the School, acting as its Superintendent, with Miss Anne Sprainger appointed as Matron. In 1871, there were eight boys and three girls in residence, with ages ranging from 5 to 14.

In the late 1870s, when Miss Gibson's health was failing, her aunt — a Mrs Gibson of Newcastle — bought her a nearby property known as Ballacloan on what is now Windsor Mount. Miss Gibson took up residence in the house and an annexe, referred to as the 'cottage', was erected for the children. Following her death in June 1880, the home was taken over by the National Children's Home (NCH).

In 1884, the home was listed as accommodating 38 girls, who were taught needlework and dressmaking.

It is said that in its early days, when the home was short of funds, Ballacloan decided to offer baths to the public. Unfortunately, it appears that no-one in Ramsey was willing to admit that they needed a bath, and the idea was soon scrapped.

Residents of Ballacloan, Ramsey, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Residents of Ballacloan, Ramsey, c.1908. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1917, the home was expanded by the addition of another property in the area called Dalmeny on Cumberland Road. The girls moved into Dalmeny while the boys stayed at Ballacloan. In 1920, the total capacity of the home was seventy children.

Children and staff at Ballacloan, Ramsey, c.1908. © Peter Higginbotham

Ballacloan was closed in 1956 while Dalmeny, now a mixed home for 24 children, remained in use for several more decades.

All three of the home's locations still exist. Dalmeny now forms part of Ramsey Cottage Hospital while the other two properties are now private residences.


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.

  • Action For Children (formerly the National Children's Home). Can provide access to their own records for individuals who were adopted through the charity or who resided in one of its homes. Help also for those searching for family history information.


  • Bradfield, William The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1913, Kelly)
  • Curnock, Nehemiah The Story of the Children's Home (C.H. Kelly, 1901)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Horner, Francis Shadow and Sun (Epworth Press, 1920)
  • Howard, Philip J Philip: a Strange Child (Dalkeith Publishing, 2007)
  • Philpot, Terry Action For Children (Lion, 1994)
  • Walpole, Cecil F. Golden Links (Epworth Press, 1941)
  • Thwaites, William Thwaites' Isle of Man Directory (1863, Sheffield Publishing Company)