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William Quarrier

Glasgow Caledonian University, Research Collections, Heatherbank Museum of Social Work

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William Quarrier

William Quarrier (1829-1903), founder of Quarrier's Homes for orphan children.

Born in Greenock, Quarrier had personal experience of child poverty. His widowed mother moved to Glasgow when he was five years of age and he had to work long hours in a factory. Later, he was apprenticed to a shoemaker and by the age of 23 he had his own successful business.

A committed Christian, Quarrier was deeply moved by the plight of the many destitute children who slept rough on Glasgow's streets. His first enterprise was to organise the ragged shoeblack boys who worked in Glasgow's railway stations into a smart uniformed Shoeblack Brigade. He acquired premises to house some of the boys and gave them basic education. He planned to set up homes, but not on the lines of the vast impersonal institutions which were set up as the orphanages of the time.

In 1871 Quarrier opened his first home in Renfrew Lane. This was followed by several homes in Glasgow, culminating in the City Orphanage in James Morrison Street, which accommodated 100 boys and gave temporary care to a further 100 boys and girls. Quarrier bought a farm near Bridge of Weir and in 1878 he opened the first of his cottages which were eventually to provide homes for 500 children.

Reference: Heatherbank Museum of Social Work, print 591

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow Caledonian University, Research Collections, Heatherbank Museum of Social Work

charities, children's homes, City Orphanage, orphanages, orphans, pauper children, poor relief, Quarrier's Homes, Shoeblack Brigade

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