Having slept on it again the architects’ meeting was perhaps not as daunting. They’d read the blog and could sense the fear. They reassured me that the building is in good condition and will need minimal repairs, not insignificant repairs but not everything needs sorted for the building to open. Guess we need to find that base level and a path to new things. I knew that was the journey but had forgotten the first bit in the overwhelm of the second. They also said that feeling frightened showed we were thinking about it. The term they used that has floated to the front of my memory or consciousness of what we have is a ‘seaside pavilion’ – for performances and community assembly not a town hall carrying out civic functions. Let’s let that percolate and see what it becomes.
Interesting detail that came out the report: the original building, Inverey House dates from before 1840. In 1893 it was bought by John Christie and after inheriting money he set up three female orphanages, the first of which was Inverey House. By 1901 there were fifty girls, two assistants and a matron living in the house as well as a nurse being employed. They extended to build a new playroom and laundry/washhouse in 1903 which is now Lothian Dance Academy so you can imagine Miss Morag was excited by that news and the discovery of the original drawings for her building.
With regard to the industrial schools the report states:
‘Created in the nineteenth century, Industrial schools were related to reform/borstal schools but, rather than being sentenced to one after a crime had been committed, they tended to act more as a form of orphanage, with children either being removed from their families or taken from a situation of vagrancy or destitution and given the opportunity of vocation education. During the course of the 19th century, the definitions between reform and industrial schools became more blurred, especially as many were, like Inverey House, privately run charitable establishments. The general principle was one of teaching discipline and technical skills. For females this would consist of skills suitable to get work in domestic service or be suitable ‘for the matrimonial market’.
Often industrial schools were run as little more than centres for slave labour, often using the ‘immoral background’ of the older girls and women as reasons or excuses for abuse. At Inverey House, from the age of the girls, it appears more likely that the school acted as an orphanage type school, with the ages running from 8-14, and containing several sets of siblings. Although very little is recorded about life here, the will of John Christie (and its contestation) suggests that it was not the worst of its type. His family had contested the will in which he had left money for further expansion of his childrens’ homes: “Mr Christie ordered more expensive furniture for the home at Tenterdean than his own house- the furniture was of a kind not suited for an orphanage”.
Jennifer’s blog 19th June