Our history

1874 a proposal is made

Miss Macpherson Grant of Aberlour writes to Canon Charles Jupp asking him to be her personal chaplain. He declines at first but she persists, promising to fund the construction of an orphanage with a church, rectory and school.

1875 aberlour orphanage founded

Burnside Cottage beside the Lour Burn opens its doors to four “mitherlessbairns” and the Aberlour Orphanage is born.

1877 miss macpherson grant dies

The sudden death of Miss Macpherson Grant slows the development of the orphanage and puts its future in doubt.

1882 mr grant to the rescue

Mr W Grant of Wester Elchies leaves a legacy of £8,000 enabling land to be purchased to construct a bigger orphanage, and for St. Margaret’s Church to be completed.

Over the next few years further residential blocks (1902), a laundry and an isolation hospital (1906) are added.

1885 the jupp sales

Affectionately known as the Beggar of the North, Canon Jupp works tirelessly, travelling hundreds of miles, to preach and appeal for support and funds for the orphanage. In 1855 he starts annual jumble sales in the village. Known as Jupp’s sales, they attract shoppers from across the north of Scotland, raising thousands of pounds for the orphanage.

1907 - 1953 the royal visits

With the Royal Residence of Balmoral relatively close by, Aberlour orphanage was lucky to receive a number of Royal visits. In 1907 Edward VII visits the orphanage followed by Edward VIII and Queen Mary in 1922. Years later, in 1953 Princess Margaret opens the Princess Margaret Residential Nursery School, an extension of the orphanage at the Dowans.

1911 end of an era

Canon Jupp who held the strong belief that every child has the ability and right to grow up and flourish in society regardless of origins, passes away in 1911. Having spent time at Clay Cross in Derbyshire and at St Nicholas Episcopalian Church in Newcastle, he experienced poverty first-hand, once encountering a family living in one room furnished only with a mattress.
When the boys wing of the orphanage was completed shortly after his death, it was named in Jupp’s honour at the behest of his successor, Reverend Walter Jenks.

1914 - 1918 & 1939 - 1945 war

Aberlour orphanage, a community in itself, was affected by the outbreak of war.

In November 1924, the warden, staff and orphans joined together to dedicate a war memorial to those who had fallen in the Great War where 62 old boys were lost.

Just over 20 years later, the Second World War would see additional names added to the war memorial.

The memorial can still be seen in the grounds of St Margaret’s Church, Aberlour.

1928 wolfie becomes warden

Reverend C A Wolfe (affectionately known as Wolfie) is appointed warden and quickly gains a reputation throughout Scotland as a champion for the orphanage. He becomes a father figure to hundreds of children and the riving force for changes to the orphanage.

1931 fire!

Fire tears through the orphanage in 1931 and again in 1937, destroying some of the buildings. An appeal for funds is made by Wolfie in the national press, leading to the construction of a new boys wing which opens in 1939.

1935 holiday time

Up until the 1930s, children in the orphanage were treated to an annual trip by train to Lossiemouth. This changes in 1935, when a holiday home is opened at Hopeman, Moray.

1958 warden leslie appointed

After many years, Wolfie retires and the Reverend C W Leslie is appointed warden, at a time when institutional upbringing is becoming viewed as old fashioned.

1959 & 1960 wolfie honoured

The London Gazette announces that Wolfie is to be awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours, 1959.

1960. Wolfie is given a tour of BBC Television Centre in London and is surprised by Eamonn Andrews and the big red book for This Is Your Life.

1962 a change of direction

Under the guidance of Mrs M E Craven and followed by Mr R Church, small houses in the main cities of Scotland are developed, allowing children to live in a homely atmosphere in communities.

1965 this week

In 1965, the ITV documentary series This Week films at Aberlour orphanage, highlighting some of the issues surrounding social care at the time.

1967 closure, but a lasting legacy

The policy of building family homes proves successful and the difficult decision is taken to close the orphanage in 1967.

1969 the aberlour trust

Aberlour moves its headquarters to Stirling, and the role of warden is replaced by the Aberlour Trust Director and the governing body is constituted.

1978 the aberlour child care trust

A new constitution is drawn up, creating Aberlour Child Care Trust and offering greater flexibility to respond to the needs of children.

2002 the aberlour memorial garden

BBC Scotland’s The Beechgrove Garden comes to Aberlour to develop a community memorial garden on the site of the orphanage, incorporating its old clock tower. The garden was supported by Mr Liddell in memory of his wife Ethel, a former resident of the orphanage.

2012 the one show

The Aberlour Orphanage is featured on BBC’s The One Show in a touching segment where Professor David Divine revisits his childhood home and house mother.

Dowans Hotel pictures

2014 paintings uncovered

The owners of The Dowans Hotel in Aberlour uncover some beautiful paintings and murals on the walls of their new bar and restaurant, which was once the Princess Margaret Orphanage Nursery school. Read the full story.

aberlour today

At Aberlour, we believe that all children deserve to flourish. We are there for children, young people and families across Scotland, helping transform lives for the better.
We listen: Our services are tailored to help each child, young person or family to be the very best they can be. We support them to overcome significant challenges like growing up in and leaving care, living with a disability and dealing with the impact of drugs and alcohol on family life. We offer support at the earliest opportunity: Giving children the best possible start in life is at the heart of everything we do.
Our vision is to transform the lives of the children and families we work with and, through this, contribute to building a fairer and more equal society.