Aberdeen Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
A Nazareth House was opened in 1877 at Clarence Street (now 34 Claremont Street), Aberdeen, providing accommodation both for the elderly poor and for destitute and deserted children. The building, constructed in grey granite, was designed by Ellis & Wilson, with construction of the central section thought to have begun in around 1871. The side wings were completed in about 1881, with a the addition of a mortuary chapel and enlargement of the wings in 1890. Later additions included a block at the north-east in 1900, and a convent building and chapel.
The location and layout of the site in around 1923 is shown on the map below.
On August 3rd, 1877, the property was officially certified as an Industrial School for up to 100 Roman Catholic girls committed by magistrates to a period of detention for reasons such as vagrancy or neglect by their parents. Destitute and deserted boys were also housed at the establishment in the more usual orphanage arrangement.
As well as basic classroom education, the girls were occupied in the work of the house including cleaning, cooking, and washing the clothes and linen. They were also taught needlework and knitting, and made all their own clothing. In 1884, the School was managed by a Superioress and five Sisters, together with some assistance in the laundry.
The official capacity of the Industrial School was increased to 130 in November 1902, and to 150 in September, 1909.
In around 1933, the girls' establishment became one of the new Approved Schools introduced by the 1932 Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act to replace the existing Reformatory and Industrial Schools. In its new role, the Aberdeen School as it was now called, housed up to 150 girls aged from 7 to 16.
In 1943, the headmistress was Sister Mary Aengus. The practical work at this date included cookery, laundrywork, dressmaking and housewifery.
Following Scotland's 1968 Social Work Act, the School was redesignated as a 'List D' School.
In recent years, the property continued to operate as a residential care home for the elderly. In 2014 it was converted into flats.
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.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
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