“Justice For Children Fights For Truth And Justice For The Quarriers Orphan Homes Children Of The Past”
Quarriers Orphan Homes Village is in the Inverclyde council area and the historic county of Renfrewshire in the central lowlands of Scotland and it lies on the northern slope of the Gryffe Valley 7 1⁄2 miles (12.1 km) south-east of Greenock and around 15 miles (24 km) west of the city of Glasgow.
Quarriers Orphan Homes Village was founded as the Orphan Homes of Scotland in 1876 by Glasgow shoe-maker and philanthropist William Quarrier on the site of the former Nittingshill Farm as Quarrier had a vision of a community allowing the young children in his care to thrive in a countryside environment and housed in a number of grand residences under a house-mother and father or a cottage mother and cottage auntie..
For many passing Quarriers Orphan Homes looks like a beautiful place for any child to be brought up but for many children looking out this was a different story and as Jayne and I have our own stories to tell we wanted to find out exactly how someone that had not been brought up in Quarriers Orphan Homes but knew a little about Quarriers Orphan Homes would now feel when they knew the true story about the good times along with the sexual and physical abuse many children suffered being brought up as one of Quarriers children so Jayne and I from Justice For Children and being Quarriers children ourselves along with Andy Peacher invited Neil McKechnie from the Fresh Start Foundation to visit us and find out the truth behind the stone walls of Quarriers Orphan Homes.
When visiting Quarriers Village Children’s Homes for the first time with Sandy and Jayne, I had in my minds eye a feeling that it would have the outward impression of being cold, institutionalized, grey non-descript buildings, I suppose like an arrangement of traditionally constructed school-type industrial buildings, together with prefabricated modular huts.
I could not have been more wrong.
I was taken aback to find an expensively constructed stone cottage village, centered around an impressive and foreboding central church with tall bell tower within sculpted and well maintained gardens.
This was like a kind of Brigadoon on a grand scale.
Quarriers Village looked to me more like an expensive private school campus or buildings from Oxford or Cambridge Universities.
It appeared to me to have everything to cater for the needs of the children with its own hospital, a doctor, a dentist. My understanding is that the children were kitted out in their Sunday Best clothes too.
It occurred to me that nobody, based on their first impressions, could ever believe that Child Sexual Abuse could have been committed here such is the respectable veneer and the apparent idyllic surroundings in which the children had to grow up but maybe this is precisely why because nobody would believe a Quarriers Homes child who reported these heinous sexual assaults.
One other thing I seen on my visit was the extent of the Quarriers graveyard and at this I was shocked and appalled and according to a cast iron sign on an adjacent wall hundreds of children were buried there and where once the children’s grave’s were individually marked these identity markers have since been removed which begs the question why would anybody do such a thing?Then, as if to rub salt into the wounds former Quarriers staff and shareholders were buried next to the children with their graves marked with expensive gravestones.
Fresh Start Foundation.
Well that is Neil’s story but we have been fighting for many years for our brothers and sisters of Quarriers Orphan Homes and today our fight still continues but is the truth still being hidden by Quarriers when they tell many adults who spent time in this orphanage as children and who go back to this orphanage to see there records that no records can be found of them like Sandy has been told but one thing we have done is put some of these abusers in front of a judge but there again is justice being carried out so we will let you decide on this as you continue reading.
The first abuse case came to court in 2001 when former house-parent Samuel McBrearty was jailed for 12 years (later reduced to 10 years) after being convicted of repeatedly raping and indecently molesting two girls over a seven-year period.
In 2001 Joseph Nicholson 74 known as “Uncle Joe” was jailed for two years for abusing a 13-year old girl during the late 1960s.
In April 2004 John Porteous brother-in-law, Alexander (“Sandy”) Wilson, 61 another former house parent was jailed for seven and a half years for sexually abusing girls in his care.
And Mary Drummond 73, was put on probation for three years at Greenock Sheriff Court on cruelty charges, dating back to the 1950s and l960s.
The most recent case involved Ruth Wallace a former house mother at Quarrier s who was placed on probation for abusing kids in her care 30 years ago.
Sentencing the 72 year old spinster Greenock sheriff John Herald branded her conduct as “inexcusable”. Wallace had been found guilty after a trial of four counts of assault and three of wilful ill-treatment of children dating from 1971-1981.
But many of the victims who testified against Ruth Wallace know that they will never be able to put their Quarriers years behind them.
One woman “Linda” told how she has an everlasting impression of her four years at Quarriers and how she caries it with her and no matter how hard she tries to verbalise it she cannot convey the feelings of utter helplessness hopelessness terror fear and despair that she felt being in the care of Quarriers.”
Linda added: “Our family background was one of abuse as my dad was a violent schizophrenic who would regularly beat my mum who was Scottish to a pulp, and put her in hospital. My three sisters and my brother often had to go into care for our own safety.
If we had come from a stable, ordinary background, it would have been more obvious to us and to other people that we were being ill-treated at Quarriers. But because we were already traumatised we assumed that what happened at Quarriers was normal. The things that Ruth Wallace did and say to us hurt us still hurts to this day.
Linda alleged that one task included being ordered to get out of bed early in the morning to scrub a shed floor with toothbrushes. On other occasions she alleges she would be invited to share Wallace’s bedroom and would lie awake all night terrified. “There was never a day went by that somebody did not suffer in some way whether it was by being humiliated or beaten. You felt for the other people who were experiencing it but your over-riding feeling was,”Thank God it’s not me”.
“I don’t want to say that my time there was all bad as we had some good times there but most of the times I enjoyed it was when we were outside the cottage. There was a huge park with a pond and in the summer there would be groups of us getting up to all sorts of activities there. If it hadn’t been for Ruth Wallace, Quarriers would have been a lovely place to be.”
“My sisters and I never spoke about the things that had happened to us apart from incidents that had involved one or more of us. Two of my sisters made statements for the Ruth Wallace trial and there were things in them that I had no knowledge of. The thing was we knew at the time that each of us were all suffering in some respects but we just didn’t talk about it.”
‘Jane another former resident told how her years of hell in Quarrier s only ended when she left Quarriers.
Jane was one of those who testified against Ruth Wallace during the trial she found herself in Quarriers as a result of serious physical abuse by her mother as she was hospitalised for five months with multiple fractures. Jane said there have been a number of trials over the years but in my opinion the public does not realise the extent of the things that went on there, because we’ve never had an opportunity to talk about it.”
Even at the Ruth Wallace trial we were only allowed to answer the questions that were put to us and as one of the other victims has put it to me the jury only got a flavour of the horrors that we went through being sent to Quarriers.
Well now you know how life was like for some being in the care of Quarrier s and that of someone who came along with Jayne and I to find out for themselves the true story of being a Quarrier s Orphan Homes child and yes to this day I still suffer from depression and I still wake up screaming of the night my childhood ended but we at Justice For Children will continue to fight for all victims of child abuse as it is not just about us but for every child that has walked in our shoes and know the everlasting effects of child sexual and physical abuse.
Recently Quarriers Orphan Homes admitted that they knew children in there care were being abused and also gave a public apology.
Now we at Justice For Children have to find out why Quarriers removed the gravestones of 345 little children who were laid to rest in the graveyard at Quarriers and so far we have managed to get Quarriers to investigate this and we are having a meeting set up for January 2018 for Quarriers to meet with Justice For Children so we can work together to resolve our ongoing concerns and hopefully have every child’s gravestone replaced.
From Jayne and I and Andy and Joanne and everyone at Justice For Children we would like to thank our good friend Neil from the Fresh Start Foundation for coming along and giving his view on his visit to Quarriers Orphan Homes.
Also to everyone that is giving Justice For Children there support we also thank as it is only by linking together as one truth and justice can and will be done.
Sandy Smith, Jayne Taylor, Andy Peacher and Joanne Peacher,
Justice For Children