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Industrial Asylum and Reformatory for Girls, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

A Trust was set up in 1844 by Mr Harvey of Beedlieston for the reformation of females of dissolute habits in Aberdeen. Initially, the Trust supported an existing establishment, the city's Spital Penitentiary. In June, 1859, new buildings were opened on Mount Street in Aberdeen as a reformatory for 'women of bad habits'. In 1862, the establishment was closed and the premises rented to a new management for the rescue of girls under 16. Prior to this, girls under 16 convicted in Aberdeen had to be sent to a reformatory in Edinburgh or Glasgow. The new institution, known as the Industrial Asylum and Reformatory for Girls complemented the city's existing Oldmill Reformatory for Boys.

In March, 1862, the new premises were officially certified to accommodate up to 30 girls, aged from 10 to 16 at their date of admission, who had been sentenced to detention by the courts. Girls who were judged by the management committee to be neglected or in moral danger were also received.

The location of the Mount Street establishment is shown on the 1871 map below.

Industrial Asylum and Reformatory for Girls, Mount Street, Aberdeen, c.1871.

In its early annual reports, it was recorded that:

The object of the Institution is to provide, first, a middle place between the Prison and Society, for the reception and reformation of girls who have fallen into Crime, and also, Secondly, a place for the reception and training of neglected and destitute Young females, who, in the judgement of the Directors, are verging towards Crime. The Inmates are so Educated as to fit them, on leaving the Institution, to gain their livelihood by the exercise of Some honest Calling at home or in the Colonies; And it is the aim of the Institution to impart to the Inmates Knowledge and Skill, and to inspire them with those motives of Conduct which Can alone enable them afterwards to discharge their duties toward God, themselves, and Society. With this view they are taught, the truths of the Christian religion, as Contained in the Bible, from the Bible itself, with the — Reading, writing, Arithmetic, the rules of Grammar and geography, and Singing, at the discretion of the Directors. Sewing, house-work and other useful employment. It is the duty of the Directors and Matron to aid in providing suitable employment for the inmates, when ready to leave the Institution, and also thereafter to maintain Communication with them in relation to their Subsequent history. The management of the Institution is vested in a body of twenty-six Directors — Sixteen of Whom to Consist of the Trustees acting under the Deed of Trust of William Harvey in Beedlieston of Dyce, bearing date 17th June 1844, and the remaining ten to be elected by Subscribers to the funds of the Institution at their annual meeting. A Donation of £5 shall give the Donor a right Continued

The girls were given training to fit them for domestic service and the institution had its own working laundry. They were also kept fit with a range of physical drill exercises.

There were periodic outbreaks of trouble at the Reformatory. In 1898, six of the girls absconded while out at church. All were returned, although two had reached as far as Dundee. In the same year, five girls combined in destroying some customers' linen which had been sent for washing.

The Reformatory was closed in 1901. From 1902 until 1921, the premises were occupied by the Aberdeen Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. In the 1970s, a confectionery works operated on the site. The buildings no longer survive and the site is now occupied by modern flats.


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