The Church of Scotland opened the Robertson Orphan Home for Girls, in Queensferry, in 1898, in a house in East Terrace.
The original Robertson Orphan Home was established in 1875 by the Rev, Dr William Robertson of New Greyfriars, in the ‘Vennel’ and the children attended the New Greyfriars School. It remained there until his death in 1882. After her father’s death, Miss Gertrude Robertson took over the responsibility for the funds and for the management of the home.
It was thought the home, in the ‘Vennel’, was too close to the girls old homes and a decision was made to move further away so their friends wouldn't be able to "waylay them" on their way to and from school.
Between 1882 and 1898 the orphanage moved several times, from the Vennel, firstly to Wilfred Terrace, Piershill. This home prospered through funding support and a second flat was opened in Drum Terrace, off Easter Road. Both had facility for 12 girls. In 1887 a large house was secured in Mayfield, off Easter Road, and the two orphanages united there happily for 5 years until the house was pulled down for redevelopment. The home then moved to Pilrig Street, Leith.
Another 5 years passed and it became clear that the running of the home was too much responsibility for one person, namely Gertrude Robertson, (who later died of Cerebral Hemorrhage in 1900, aged 51.).
The Church of Scotland's "Committee of Christian life and work" agreed to take over the running of the home with the approval of the General Assembly. As the first institution of the kind undertaken by the Church of Scotland, it drew considerable interest. The new departure by the church was originated in 1896 when in spirit of self -examination the General Assembly reviewed their responsibility to the orphans and the friendless. It was hoped that this was to be one of many such orphanages throughout the church.
When the lease on the Pilrig house ran out, a house with a large garden was taken in South Queensferry, situated in the High Street (East Terrace) and overlooking the Forth.
Adapted for the purpose of the children’s home, the rooms were bright and airy and suitably furnished to provide accommodation for 20 orphan girls. The new home was opened in Queensferry in 1898. A Miss K H Davidson was initially appointed as superintendent of the institution.
In the 1901 census, an Annie Anderson was the Deaconess Superintendant of the home, with a Margaret Falconer, from Linlithgow, listed as ‘Head’ of house, occupation, a Boot Merchant, there with her family, two daughters and a young Grandson. There were two servants – sisters from Inchmarlo, Aberdeenshire ( former girls?) and a Cook. There were 16 girls listed, 11 born in Edinburgh, 2 born in Leith, one in Moffat, one in Falkirk and one in Greenock, this included two sets of sisters.
The house was sold by the proprietor in 1904 for building purposes, so after great searching, a suitable house was found in Musselburgh which was formerly used in connection with Loretto School and was in every way, suitable and it was opened in Hamilton Place, in 1905. Senior girls were trained in house work "to qualify them for domestic service". This home was still in operation, in No’s 12 – 16, High Street, Musselburgh, in the 1930’s with a Miss A E Brown as Matron.
Musselburgh High Street, c1905. Image with permission from Peter Stubbs, edinphoto.org.uk
Image, Dover ( not home featured) Orphan home for Girls, c1926. olddovorians.tripod.com