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Glasgow Industrial School, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland

On 3 April 1846, a meeting was held in Glasgow attended by representatives of the Town council, the parochial boards of Barony, Govan, and the Gorbals, The Town's Hospital and the Night Asylum. Its subject was the establishment of industrial schools in the city. A report by the convener of the council committee, Andre Liddell, proposed that provision needed to be made for three classes of youth: those who had been convicted crime and had been in prison, but who were now found wandering the streets as idle vagrants; second, those who has not been convicted nor in prison, but who were associates of the first class, and known to the police as having no lawful employment, and no visible means of support; third, youths not so degraded as either of the two classes, but who, from the poverty or neglect of parents or other relatives, received little or no food, and no education whatever. Each of the groups, suggested Liddell, should be kept in separate schools.

The Glasgow Industrial Schools Society was formally instituted in March 1847 and opened its first premises in July of the same year. Initially, two halls were leased in the New Night Asylum for the Houseless, at 71 North Frederick Street, in which a school for boys and a school for girls were opened. A third hall, for use as a workroom, was added in the following January in premises which had been previously occupied by the Glasgow Parochial Board as an Industrial School for Pauper Children.

A meeting of the Society in May 1848 were told that the attendance at the schools had steadily increased, eventually reaching the point where new applicants had to be refused admission. The average attendance during that month had been 283, comprising 156 boys and 127 girls. Of these children, 54 were under 7 years of age, 115 between 7 and l0 years, and 114 above 10 years. A large proportion of the scholars were either orphans, or children of parents who, from accident or bad health, were unable to work. Many of them had been brought in by the police for begging en the streets, and it had initially been found that this was the only way that such children could be induced to attend the schools at all. On weekdays, the children were in school from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. The daily timetable included five hours devoted to instruction and religious exercises, and 3½ hours to working, and 2½ hours to meals and recreation. After worship, breakfast was served at 8.30 a.m., dinner at 1.30 p.m., and supper at 6.30 p.m. On fine days the children were sent out to walk for an hour, accompanied by a superintendent. On Saturdays they were dismissed at noon, and before leaving school each child received a ration of bread. For a time, the children bad been taught on the Sabbath in the school rooms. However, that mode of instruction had been found inconvenient as well as laborious to the teachers, and irksome to the children. Gratuitous church accommodation had then been provided, and the children now attended Divine Service twice every Sunday. On that day they were sent home about 5 p.m., after receiving supper. Very few of them had received any education before entering the schools, only about 1 in 7 or 8 being able to read. Their religious and moral culture had, for the most part, been wholly neglected. In proof of this, the first party sent to church consisted of 49 of the best behaved among the girls. Of these 31 had never before been in any place of worship. At night, the children returned to their own homes. where they were urged to put into practice the system of order and tidiness they been taught at school, Orphans, or those with no home to go to, were lodged at the expense of the Society in the houses, generally, of respectable widows, with no more than four permitted to lodge in the same house. No attempt had yet been made to teach the boys any regular handicraft trade and they had been chiefly employed in picking cotton waste or teasing hair. The girls had been taught so sew and knit. Since the schools had been opened, a total of 320 boys and 247 girls had been admitted. It was felt highly desirable for the Society to possess its own buildings of their own and an application had been made to the Committee of Privy Council for grant for this purpose.

In 1850-51, thanks to funds under a bequest in the will of James Murdoch, the Society was able to erect new premises a site at 61 Rottenrow (or Rotten Row). The new building was designed by Mr J.T. Rochhead in the 'old Scotch' style of architecture. Because of the slope in the ground, the new building was two storeys high at the front and three at the rear.

In 1853, the staff of the School comprised: John Wilkie, teacher and superintendent of boys; assistant, John McLaren; master of work, William Johnstone; Mrs Johnstone, matron and teacher of girls; assistants, Mrs Robertson and Miss Young.

On 10 March 1855, the establishment was formally certified under Dunlop's Act to operate as a Reformatory though was subsequently redesignated as an Industrial School. The premises could lodge 130 children, with an additional number attending on a daily basis.

The School site is shown on the 1858 map below.

Glasgow Industrial School site, Glasgow, c.1858.

An inspection report in 1859 recorded that the School was 'very useful and efficient' but criticised the classroom teaching. It noted that the large proportion of children under sentence of detente (72 out of the 118 boys, and 46 of the 98 girls) was in strong contrast to the situation at other Scottish establishments. Industrial training for the boys consisted of tailoring, shoemaking, and paper-bag making, and a band had been started; the girls were occupied in laundry, needle, and house work. The boys were now supervised by Mr Ross, and the girls by Miss Taylor.

In 1862, the daily attendance at the School was nearly 200, of whom about 90 were under detention. All the children were fed by the School, and some of the voluntary inmates were also clothed and lodged. Additions had been made to the premises including work rooms, master's apartments and two new school rooms. Following the death of Miss Taylor in 1863, Miss Todd was appointed matron, with Mr McPherson now the superintendent.

In 1867, severe overcrowding at the school resulted in the girls' school-room being used as a dormitory, while many of the boys were lodged in part of the buildings formerly occupied as a girls' House of Refuge on Parliamentary Road. Plans were also made for the construction of additional premises at Mossbank, where over 400 children were moved into temporary accommodation in 1868. It was then decided to turn Mossbank over solely for use of the boys, with the girls being returned to Rottenrow which became a girls-only school, still in the charge of Miss Todd.

Re-organization of the School following the departure of the boys included their taking over of the boys' playground, while the old girls' playground being used as a drying ground for the laundry. Their industrial training continued to revolve around household work, washing and needlework, with many of the girls being taught to use a sewing machine. As well as making all their own clothes, the girls produced many of those required at Mossbank and also did all its washing. Before discharge, some of the girls attended a school of cookery for lessons. An 'infant' class was now established with nearly 50 of the youngest girls who were only capable of very elementary instruction.

After being connected with the School for 20 years, Miss Todd resigned in 1878 and was succeeded the assistant matron, Miss Jessie Wallace.

It was recorded in 1880 that amongst the girls' sewing work was an order for one of the lines of American steamers, making and hemming 3,000 sheets. In the same year, a large house was rented on the coast where girls were sent in batches for a fortnight at a time for a change of air. Following outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox, scarlet fever and enteric fever over previous years at the School, it was decided to relocate the establishment from its city location to a healthier situation in the countryside. The move to the new site, located at Maryhill took place in the summer of 1881.

The old premises were subsequently occupied by the Rottenrow Day Industrial School.


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