William Quarrier, successful Glasgow shoe retailer, began caring for orphaned and destitute children in Glasgow in the early 1870s. He, himself, had experienced a very impoverished childhood, a situation which he overcame through hard work, determination and Christian faith.
Realising large institutional orphanages offered little in the way of a home environment to children in their care, Quarrier determined from an early age to set up a children's village, where poor children from the towns and cities of Scotland might enjoy a new life in cottage homes, under the supervision of house fathers and house mothers.
With the support of a growing band of committed supporters, Quarrier was able to purchase land at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, some 15 miles south west of Glasgow, and began to set up the Orphan Homes of Scotland (now Quarriers).
Over the next 20 years, the Orphan Homes developed as a self contained community comprising over 40 children's cottages, Mount Zion Church, a large school, a fire station, workshops, farms and other facilities. William Quarrier also opened the first TB sanitarium in Scotland next to the village and set in train plans for a care facility for people with epilepsy, which opened in 1906, three years after Quarrier's death.
The Orphan Homes continued operating much as Quarrier had begun until the late 1970s to 1980s. During the 1920s and the 1930s, over 1,500 children lived in the village at any one time. In total, between 1878 and the mid 1980s, over 30,000 children were cared for in Quarrier's children's village.
Major changes in childcare practice and legislation caused a drastic reduction in the number of children cared for in Quarriers Village during the 1970s and 1980s. Over the ensuing years, and particularly since 1993, major changes have taken place in Quarriers in respect of the range of services it provides and where they are provided.
Watch a film 'Til We Meet Again' was made by young people who live in Quarriers Village today. It was made possible through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Golden Bridge
Stories of migration, photos and Quarriers' Narrative of Facts can be found here:
The Golden Bridge - Child migration from Scotland to Canada from 1869 to 1939