William Quarrier and the Quarrier Homes
 

 William Quarrier (1829-1903), was the only son of Annie Booklass and William Quarrier, a ship's carpenter who died of cholera in Quebec in 1832. Thus at an early age young William became acquainted first-hand with deprivation, his mother taking in sewing and he working as a messenger boy to make ends meet. William also worked at fixing heads on pins for a shilling a week, and as an apprentice to a shoemaker in which trade he later set up his own business.

An active and devout member of the Baptist Church, William married Isabella Hunter - his then-employer's daughter - in December, 1856, and they lived at 5 Douglas Street, Glasgow. His shoemaking business grew and by 1864 he had three shops.

 The turning point in William Quarrier's life came on a November evening in 1864 when he was confronted by a crying child selling matchsticks. William remembered how he had felt as a small child trying to make ends meet:

"...when a little boy, I stood in the High Street of Glasgow, barefooted, bareheaded, cold and hungry having tasted no food for a day and a half and as I gazed at the passers by wondering why they did not help such as I, a thought passed through my mind that I would not do as they when I got the means to help others."

 On November 30, 1864, William wrote a long letter to the Glasgow Herald "...which described the poverty of the City and proposed a `Glasgow Shoeblack Brigade'." This would be a self-help system for young boys. There then followed a News Brigade and a Parcel's Brigade which joined to become The Industrial Brigade. The object was to provide regular employment, encourage self-help and promote a feeling of self-worth in the children. So it was that he opened mission premises in James Morrison Street, Glasgow, and soon began disposing of his businesses in order to dedicate more time and money to the children.

Other schemes Quarrier had included a Widows Help Society, a Street Boys Lodging House or Night Refuge, and a mission for abandoned women, thieves and discharged criminals. He continued his endeavours with friends with a "Tell Glasgow " campaign advertising the need to help such that in the first 10 months some 2,137 children were given lodgings.

The first home started November 18, 1871, at 10 Renfrew Lane, Glasgow and was followed by a girls home at Renfield Street. Rapid growth saw further establishments in 1872 for lads at Cessnock, Govan, and girls at Newstead and Elm Park. In April, 1876, 40 acres of land was purchased for 3560 at Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire which became the "Orphan Homes of Scotland" at Bridge of Weir, opened September 17, 1878. Here up to 30 children were housed in each cottage with a "mother and father" where they were taught about self-reliance and received a good education in the village school.

William Quarrier was acquainted with other social benefactors and became involved in sending children to Canada. Between 1870 and 1936 some 7,000 children were relocated where they were mainly employed as farm labourers.

 William Quarrier sent the first children on board St. David which arrived in Quebec on July 17, 1872. He first used Annie MacPherson's Marchmont Home in Belleville, Ontario as a distribution point and later established his own receiving home Fairknowe in Brockville, Ontario. He and Annie MacPherson both insisted (unlike Dr Barnardo) that the child's guardians gave their consent before a child could enter his Home. In 1925, Quarrier's relocation to Canada ended and children were then sent to Australia.

 The first home started November 18, 1871, at 10 Renfrew Lane, Glasgow and was followed by a girls home at Renfield Street. Rapid growth saw further establishments in 1872 for lads at Cessnock, Govan, and girls at Newstead and Elm Park. In April, 1876, 40 acres of land was purchased for 3560 at Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire which became the "Orphan Homes of Scotland" at Bridge of Weir, opened September 17, 1878. Here up to 30 children were housed in each cottage with a "mother and father" where they were taught about self-reliance and received a good education in the village school.

William Quarrier was acquainted with other social benefactors and became involved in sending children to Canada. Between 1870 and 1936 some 7,000 children were relocated where they were mainly employed as farm labourers.

 William Quarrier sent the first children on board St. David which arrived in Quebec on July 17, 1872. He first used Annie MacPherson's Marchmont Home in Belleville, Ontario as a distribution point and later established his own receiving home Fairknowe in Brockville, Ontario. He and Annie MacPherson both insisted (unlike Dr Barnardo) that the child's guardians gave their consent before a child could enter his Home. In 1925, Quarrier's relocation to Canada ended and children were then sent to Australia.

 Time has since moved on and Quarriers today provide a multi-million pound range of social services with outreach programmes for children, young people, the disabled and families, which aim to enhance their lives. This all from the awareness and philanthropy of one man who knew what it was to be cold and hungry.

Read more at http://www.quarriers.org.uk/whoweare.htm

Next : The Rev Thomas Guthrie and the Ragged Schools.

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