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Kilmacolm, Balrossie School

Orphanage (19th Century), School (20th Century)

Site Name Kilmacolm, Balrossie School

Classification Orphanage (19th Century), School (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Sailors' Orphans' Homes; Sailors' Orphans' Society Of Scotland

Canmore ID 267749

Site Number NS36NW 74

NGR NS 34260 69238

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Inverclyde
  • Parish Kilmacolm
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Inverclyde
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Architecture Notes

NS36NW 74.00 34260 69238

NS36NW 74.01 34248 69286 Annex

NS36NW 74.02 34184 69246 Ornamental Building

NS36NW 74.03 34224 69215 Ancillary Building

Site Management (22 July 2004)

2-storey, roughly rectangular, Scottish Renaissance orphanage with gothic details. Piended roof with prominent gabled section to centre. Stepped principal frontage with towers, gable, oriel window and buttresses; 2 single-storey service wings extending from rear; bay windows to side elevations. Roughcast render over whinstone rubble with painted red sandstone ashlar dressings. Base course; deep bracketed eaves. Raised long and short quoins and window margins; predominantly stone-mullioned bipartite windows.

Built as an orphanage by the Sailors´ Orphans Society of Scotland. This was the first orphanage to be built by the society, and previous to its completion the society had housed its orphans in rented accommodation. Money for the building was donated by ´several donors´, including one anonymous benefactor who gave £3500: the deliberately obscure inscriptions on the Girls´ Villa and garden building are probably the monogram of this person. The architect of the building is given in the Glasgow Advertiser article as H and D Barclay, but as Hugh Barclay died in 1892, this is probably the sole work of his younger brother David. The Barclay brothers specialised in school design, and were responsible for a large number of schools in and around Glasgow, including Glasgow Academy; their most prominent building, however, was Greenock Municipal Buildings.

The orphanage was designed to house 82 boys and 32 girls. The principle building contained accommodation for 50 boys in the left wing and 32 boys in the right wing, each wing forming a separate house with its own dormitories, dining room, playshed and other accommodation. The central tower contained administrative offices, with stores on the ground floor and a water tank at the top. The large gabled section that runs through the centre of the block contained a large hall for assemblies, services, teaching, and other similar activities. Girls were housed separately in the villa to the North of the main building. (Historic Environement Scotland List Entry)

The site is understood to have been purchased by Glasgow Corporation in 1962 and converted for use as a residential care home (The Herald) for children.


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