Vertical gradient.
Latest News
Letters & Opinions
Scottish Child
Abuse Inquiry
Scottish Law
Scottish Human
Rights Commission
Abuse Review
Jersey Abuse
Northern Ireland Redress Scheme
Ireland Abuse
Kerelaw Abuse
Media Archive
William Quarrier
Children's Files
Jan McQueenie
BBC "Secrets
or Lies"
Support Groups
Former Boys And Girls Abused logo
Mount Zion Church
Former Boys And Girls Abused
Reflections 20 years after publication of extracts from Jan McQueenie's book "Along Life's Narrow Way"

By Alison Goodall, Scottish Sunday Mail, 2004.

Extracts from Along Life's Narrow Way the autobiography of Jan McQueenie, Scottish Sunday Mail, 27/05/1984.
Part Two of Jan McQueenie's story Scottish Sunday Mail, 03/06/1984.
Response to Jan McQueenie's story Scottish Sunday Mail, 03/06/1984.

Jan is elderly now but has lost none of her sharpness which shone through when we first met. She is articulate in every sense we are deeply indebted and grateful to her for giving us permission to use her account of life in Quarriers Homes and to reproduce some extracts from her book "Along Life's Narrow Way", which she was writing but had not completed when she was contacted by Anna Magnuson and the Sunday Mail all those years ago.

Following the publication of the extracts in the Sunday Mail on the 27th May and the 3rd of June 1984 Jan informed us when we met in Scotland in 2004 that she was overwhelmed by information and letters from people all over the UK and a few from abroad such as Canada. From literally hundreds of individuals who had spent all or much of their childhood "in care" and others who had been in contact with other unfortunate people who had also suffered in institutions such as Quarriers Homes.

Jan added that she could not possibly give an account of all that she was confronted with, and some of the other former children of Quarriers Homes have felt the need to hide their sad and horrific past. Here are some extracts from Jan and Doris & others accounts of their time in Quarriers Homes. Some names, including those of the house parents have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals involved.


Lilian spent six and half years in the home in M/s J cottage although now a widow in her sixties, Lilian is a nervous gentle little creature who is full of the unhappy memories of her time spent in Quarriers Homes.

Lilian was a bed–wetter and was severely beaten and thrown into a bath of cold water in summer and winter. After one such incident she was dragged out of the bath and thrashed until she "passed out" When she woke up she was in the Homes Elise Hospital she had injuries to her back, legs and a broken arm. She remained in the homes hospital for many months. From that time onwards Lilian had weakness and pain in her back and legs.

Lilian was not only deprived of physical health but she can recall the seemingly endless days and nights of terror.

One night when the children were aroused for the routine toileting at approximately 9pm Lilian's bed was wet. She got the usual thrashing and plunged into a bath of cold water, she remained in that bath till the morning. Lilian was six years old at the time.

Lilian had a sister who kept running away when she was brought back she was thrashed and beaten and given all sorts of punishments including the cold bath and the standing in the dark all night in a outhouse at the back of the cottage a favourite punishment of the homes down the ages.

There was a limit as to how many times a child could challenge the system and in fact if those in power felt that they had they could invoke the final punishment which was to have you placed in another institution such as a borstal or a remand home which they did at there own free will.


Mabel is now in her forties. That she reached this age at all is a miracle for twelve years her brother and two sisters were in the homes.

Mabel's little brother lived in a boys cottage as during this period boys and girls were segregated in the homes. For many years Mabel has had to have ongoing psychiatric treatment due to the withheld terrors and torment she endured in the homes.

Strange to say Mabel does not mention any direct physical abuse to herself but can recall in vivid detail the abuse her brother and sisters and others endured in her cottage and other cottages.

She can remember how her sister was sexually molested in the grounds of the homes and when she reported it no action was taken Mabel's sister has never forgotten this incident and has subsequently had two nervous breakdowns.

Mabel's older sister left school and went to work in another cottage she reports how she witnessed a girl of four years old was grabbed by the houseparent and stripped naked and thrashed and finally made to stand naked in a corner with her hands on her head for all to see. If see dropped her hands she would receive additional punishments.

Mabel's sister reported this incident to someone in authority in the homes, but she was removed from this cottage after reporting this incident of abuse that she witnessed and sent to work in another cottage, this was a warning to her that she was not to report anything untoward that she saw in future.

Mabel's brother spent a few years in a cottage run by Mr and Mrs M.C. Jan says that even when she was at school a few years before Mabel's family came into the homes she used to hear dreadful stories about this couple especially the male houseparent.

If any of the boys ran away in this house they were belted mercilessly to a pulp. Sometimes Mr M.C. would tie them to a door or bed by their penis and announce try running away now! Mabel's brother ran away three times and received this sadistic punishment.

Doris Black

Doris is a tall elegant well groomed woman in her fifties she is a successful business woman. She blends well into society and is able to communicate with all walks of life. There is no outward sign of the torment, beatings and humiliations that Doris suffered in the homes.

Doris was the only child of a broken home and at the age of four was sent to Quarriers Homes and remained in the homes for fourteen years. At no time did her parents visit or indeed anyone else.

She says that she must have paid the price of her parents sins a thousand times over. Doris recalls an incident when a girl of 11years old was belted by this particular housemother and the head matron at the same time.

It was practice for other children in the cottage to sneak to the location where the punishment was being brutally administered on a child by the houseparents. Doris recalls this incident and she counted in horror the amount of strokes of the belt this young child received she lost count at 130. Doris recalls this particular incident because like her self this child never received any visitors either.

When Doris was just five years old Mrs B (who appeared to be a widow) caught her dropping a piece of grizzly fat on the floor. Mrs B made Doris stand in front of everyone else and made her eat it as the sickness rose in her mouth Doris willed herself to swallow the fat, sickness and all. Fear made her do it as to have failed in such a position with others being shown you knew that if you failed to obey the punishments were greater as the houseparents saw this as a challenge to their power and rule.

Following the "Fat" incident Mrs B placed a piece of fat in Doris soup every day for a week and Doris had to ensure that she swallowed this fat and she willed herself to do this.

Many times Doris could not sit down due to the thrashing she had received for the most trivial of things.

Deep down Doris holds a deep resentment and some bitterness for the treatment received at the hands of care workers who were suppose to care for her. This though has not stopped her from showing the same determination she had as a young girl to succeed in business.

One day as a punishment Doris was made to stand in front of all in the cottage and repeat "I am nothing, I have nothing and when I leave this place I will be nothing".

This is a prime example of how house parents tried their utmost down the ages in the homes to break the will and the spirit of some of the children. The same punishment occurred to my sister who had the courage to stand up to them.

One summer day when Doris was sitting outside of the cottage on the lawn, she was about seven years old. She sat wondering yet again where her own mummy was and when she come and save her from this horrible place and take her home but to no avail. She picked up a three leave clover putting it to her face she wished a wish about her mummy.

Suddenly Mrs B appeared from no where and gripped her by the back of the collar and dragged her inside. The little girl was accused of eating a sourock (an edible weed which many children chewed unobserved) Mrs B forced Doris mouth open but even though she found no sourock or grass Doris was beaten senseless.

Doris will never forget that beating until her dying day or the injustice of this incident and others like it. She had told the truth and was beaten senseless for it.

"Guttersnipe" was a word very familiar to many of the children in Quarriers Homes as this and many other derogatory words were hurled at the children by some of the very employees supposed to care for them. Some house parents would often remark "you were found in the gutter and you will end up there".

As a child Doris never received any toys or books to call her own any gift she received disappeared a few hours later unless her gift was mittens, bible or a cookery book. She did not have the anticipation of owning anything which she could call her own.

On Christmas day one year Doris was asked to clean out and light the agar in the kitchen Doris for all her efforts could not get the range to kindle. "I was battered with a poker, and the made to scub all the kitchen floors on my hands and knees. Later in church that morning Doris received a gift from under the tree "1001 Household Hints", how ironic Doris thought.

One day at school the nurse asked Doris what age she was Doris unsure replied I think I am twelve I do not know when the nurse made some inquiries she was able to confirm Doris's birthday and the date it fell on.

Doris remained in the same cottage for fourteen years under a cruel and harsh dictatorship The only time she left was when she had to do obligatory work in the laundry/drapery which all the girls had to do to earn their keep.

Doris like many children before and after her who endured this cruelty did not end up in the gutter which is testimony to her strength and character. In fact Doris and the rest who managed to make it in the wider society when they left Quarriers Homes lifted there heads high and made a full contribution to society and made a good life for themselves despite the cruelty and abuse they had suffered in Quarriers Homes.

How Doris made it is incredible after having so many violent beatings it was not easy for her to be trust. into the outside world leaving an institution which drummed into her everyday how thankful she should be and perverting and indoctrinating gods word into their souls.

It is no wonder though she bares some resentment and bitterness at the treatment she received at the hands of those supposed to care for her.

Sadly many other children did not go on to make it in the wider world and have ended up in various mental health institutions with various problems associated with what occurred to them as children in Quarriers Homes the indelible scars remain for ever within them.

Other male adults have ended up in prison institutions as the violence perpetrated on them as children they have gone on to do this to others.

To follow – more extracts, and we will reveal how Quarriers Homes senior management tried to suppress Jan and Doris's story!

homeemail us

Contact us for help and advice by email at