Quarrier’s Home

About the Author

Name: Marie Forbes

Title: Solicitor - Historic Abuse/Litigation

Email: marie.forbes@verisonalaw.com

Telephone: 023 9298 1000

April 27th, 2022

Quarriers Home in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire was established by the Quarriers Homes Charity.  William Quarrier founded the Orphan Homes of Scotland, now Quarriers Home, in 1871.  The Quarrier’s Home project took the form of a village, intending to give children the care they needed in a setting as close to a normal family life as possible.  Approximately 30,000 children passed through the doors of Quarriers Home.

Whilst the Home was opened with the best of intentions, over the last 20 years it has become clear that something went drastically wrong.  During the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry evidence was given which showed a history of systemic abuse against a large number of children throughout their time at Quarriers.  Evidence was also given about sexual abuse against numerous children and the issue of a paedophile ring was raised.

The Inquiry found that children were subjected to physical abuse, humiliation and cruelty.  Children were beaten with open hands, knuckles and implements.  Children had carbolic soap forced into their mouths.  Their heads were forced into toilet pans and water then flushed over them.  Children were force fed.  They were subjected to abusive punishment routines including isolation in cold dark places.

Many children did not find the warmth, care and compassionate comfort they needed and instead they lived in fear and were made to feel worthless.

Complaints by a number of survivors of abuse at Quarriers Home led to at least seven former Quarrier’s employees being convicted of offences which took place between 1955 and 1981 including:-

Alexander Wilson

Wilson, former housefather and known as “uncle Sandy” was jailed in 2004 for seven and a half years after being found guilty of 15 charges including assault and sexual abuse relating to six former residents and two members of staff at Quarriers Village.

Joseph Nicholson

In 2001, Nicholson, a social worker known as “Uncle Joe” was jailed for two years for sexually abusing a 13 year old girl over a prolonged period.

Mary Drummond

Drummond was sentenced in 2002 for charges of cruelty.  She was accused of locking up children as young as five in a broom cupboard and outhouse, forcing children to eat their own vomit and mentally torturing the children with stories of a bogeyman she nicknamed BAW BAW.

Samuel McBrearty

McBrearty was jailed for 12 years in 2001 for repeatedly raping two young girls and indecently assaults on a third young girl.

Ruth Wallace

Former houseparent Wallace was found guilty of assault and wilful ill treatment of children between 1971 and 1981.

John Porteous

Branded “the Beast of the Belltower”, Porteous was jailed in 2002 for abusing two boys at Quarriers between 1969 and 1977.

Not only were children subjected to abuse, in some cases they were ripped away from everything and everyone they knew.  More than 7000 of the children at Quarriers were emigrated by the Quarriers organisation between 1872 and 1938, mainly to Canada and Australia.  The Chief Executive of Quarriers said “we apologise to children migrated through Quarriers and to children who suffered abuse following migration”.  She also stated “vulnerable children were sent away and we recognise that some also suffered physical and emotional abuse, including sexual abuse”.  Child migration programmes continued until at least 1970 and the total number of children sent abroad by Quarriers is not clear.

In a statement read out to the Child Abuse Inquiry, Quarriers said it acknowledged that children “were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse”.  It said “it acknowledged that abuse occurred across generations at Quarriers Village”.  A frank apology was offered on behalf of Quarriers by their current Chief Executive.

Following the findings of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry the Scottish Government have set up the Scottish Redress Scheme.  The purpose of the Scheme is to provide a redress payment to people who were abused in care as children before 1 December 2004.  Survivors of abuse sustained at Quarriers Home will be able to make an application for redress, subject to eligibility.

Our lawyers have a great deal of experience of dealing with redress schemes having acted for hundreds of survivors in the Lambeth Council Redress Scheme and they are already assisting a number of clients in making their application to the Scottish Redress Scheme.  If you feel you may have a claim of would just like to talk to one of our lawyers about your experiences at Quarriers Home, please contact us today on 023 9298 1000 or email us at connect@verisonalaw.com.  For more information on making an application to the Scottish Redress Scheme click here to see our helpful guide to making an application.