Ancestry UK

Rothesay Industrial School, Rothesay, Bute, Scotland

The Rothesay Industrial School began life in 1857 as the town's Ragged and Industrial Schools, located at 27 Mill Street. An inspection in 1864 recorded that there were about 60 boys and girls in attendance, of whom 17 were lodged and about 20 others partly fed, the rest of them being day scholars each paying a weekly fee of 3d. for instruction. The premises were found to be clean and in good order, not very large, but convenient and capable of extension if required. It was said that Rothesay attracted a large number of vagrants, and many children were left to idle and beg about the streets.

On June 24th, 1864, the establishment was certified as an Industrial School, allowing it to receive children sentenced by the courts to a period of detention. The School was licensed to accommodate up to 120 children, aged 6 to 14 years at their date of admission. General charge of the inmates was taken my the matron, Mrs Duncan, with the schoolmaster, Mr Ferguson, attending only during the day. Initially, the industrial training consisted of gardening and wood cutting for the boys, and needlework and housework for the girls.

In 1866, extensions to the buildings included an additional dormitory for the boys, a girls' workroom, and a small dormitory for the younger children. A garden was under cultivation. In 1867, the matron was recorded as Miss Duncan, and the master as Mr Tayler, succeeded in 1868 by Mr Ross, and then by Mr Ormsby in 1869. Mat making, tailoring, and teasing hair for upholsterers had now been added to the boys' training. The girls now also did knitting and made and repaired the school clothing. Additions to the buildings now provided accommodation for the superintendent to be resident and Mr Ormsby was joined by his wife as matron, with Miss Duncan becoming schoolmistress. The Ormsbys remained in charge until 1876, when Mr Owen Milne and his wife took over.

The School site is shown on the 1863 map below.

Rothesay Industrial School site, Rothesay, c.1863.

In 1889, Rothesay became a boys-only School and the girls then in residence were transferred to other establishments including 19 placed at the Newton Stewart Industrial School for Girls in Wigtonshire. The following year, a swimming bath was built but no means of heating heat had been provided so it was of little use.

In 1892, an inquiry was held into allegations of 'irregularities' by the superintendent, Mr Milne, including claims of cruelty and neglect towards the children under his care. Milne was acquitted of the more serious charges, but while the School was under the charge of a temporary superintendent, all discipline was lost and the management committee resigned the certificate. The School was closed in January, 1893.

The School buildings were subsequently used as a hospital but no longer survive. A modern house now occupies the site.


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