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Highland Orphanage - Culduthel Road

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14 hours ago, IBM said:

i was looking at an old map of Inverness last week and noticed the Highland Orphanage which I didn't know about and doing a bit of investigation tonight found this.......... every day is a school day :smile:


A little bit more, in case you or anyone else are interested.

The Orphanage was at 71 Culduthel Road.  If you are going up Culduthel Road away from the town centre, the driveway is on the left, about 200 yards after the right hand curve at the bottom of Temple Crescent.

It is two conjoined buildings in an L-shape. The first was opened in 1877, the second in 1887.

It closed in the late 1950s, and the 18 or so children still there were transferred to Carroll, on Island Bank Road.

I have never investigated the history of the Orphanage. I have heard that, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it wasn't a happy place - but I have also heard the opposite.   I used to know the well-known town Councillor Tom McKenzie, who lived in Hilton, but I don't think I knew at the time that he was a child of the Orphanage.   Perhaps some of our elder citizens here - Scarlet or Jock Watt - know more about it?

One of my earliest memories is sitting in my grandparents' house on Daviot Drive, which overlooks the site, and seeing the children streaming out of the schoolhouse in the Orphanage grounds.

In the late 50s, the Orphanage was converted by a local builder - Campbell, I think - into 9 flats, and the schoolhouse was converted into two semi-detached houses.  As part of the deal, the same builder also put up the two blocks of flats which constitute Drynie Terrace, just over the wall from what was now called Culduthel House.  We moved into one of the flats in either 1960 or 1961, before I started school in 1961.  My mother moved out in 2008, so she didn't quite make 50 years.

The flats varied in size, but most were spacious, with good-sized rooms and high ceilings.  We were in an upstairs flat, so we also had loft space running the length of the flat - which we converted into rooms, including a bedroom for me - and also some basement space and a double garage.  When my mother moved out I took three months off work to remove nearly 50 years' worth of accumulated possessions and arrange a move to a much smaller flat - and I needed most of that three months!

There was a communal area of grass at the front of the house, which was great for small games of football. It was surrounded by bushes and trees - great for climbing.

As you will see from one of the photos below, not all of the residents cultivated their gardens, so as a consequence there was a great deal of safe space for us kids to play in.  I used to hop across the wall - or through it, when there was a big hole in it - into the field in Daviot Drive, to join in with the football game that was usually under way there. Future Caley player Ritchie Mackay and his older brother Brian (keeper for Lossiemouth, IIRC) were regulars there.

Another who moved into a newly-converted flat was Maude Anderson (although probably still unmarried and thus Maude Yuill), who was a physics teacher in the Academy. To say she was bossy is putting it mildly, but she was OK as a neighbour, and her husband Ian was a lovely man.  Guitarist Tommy Torrance, well-known on the Inverness music scene, lived with his wife Wilma in one of the flats at the front for a while. The only other resident of note was, for a year or two, Malcolm Slater, who played on the wing for Caley and won the league with them in 1970-71.

There are three photos of the front of the house at https://her.highland.gov.uk/Monument/MHG15455     They appear to be copyright Highland Council, so I haven't reproduced them here.

There is an absolute gem of a film at https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/1535  , showing a gigantic chocolate Easter Egg being taken from Mario's shop on Eastgate, and delivered to the Orphanage.

The two pictures below are from the mid-70s, showing the front and then the back of the house.




Our flat was the very last one upstairs at the right-hand end of the house.  The single window was at the top of the stairs, the windows on either side were in what would now be called "reception rooms", and, at the back, overlooking Temple Crescent, were two double bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom.

Below are a couple of our own photos. The first is from about 1986 or so.  The second one shows the view from my loft bedroom - some of the gardens cultivated, some not, Drynie Terrace on the left, the garages constructed from the Orphanage playground shelter, and Daviot Drive straight ahead.  Beyond that is what I will always think of as "new" Hilton - it was cornfields when we first moved in.





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Very interesting s-c.  The back of the orphanage abutted Daviot Drive, as you said, which was one of our main playgrounds for many of us Hilton lads in the 50s.  We used to call it Daviot Oval in the summer months when cricket was all the go, but also used it for football too, with jackets for the goalposts.

Re Tom McKenzie, he was a great friend of my parents, and visited us regularly, once a week in Dell Road, for a cuppa and whatever cake my Mam had  recently baked.  I never knew he was a product of the orphanage.  Maybe my parents knew, but never told me, as I was adopted, and but for their kindness in 'taking me in', could well have ended up there myself.

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  • 3 years later...

Here is an old photo from my wife’s family (I have cut out the family members) which was taken in 1954 from the rear of 16 Drynie Avenue before the flats were built in Drynie Avenue. It shows a bell tower on the orphanage. The photos online that I can find don’t show one. Any idea?


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IBM, I don't recognise that at all.  I would have said that that is not the Orphanage.  It certainly doesn't look like any part of the building as I remember it, and it doesn't look like any of the photos above. 

The Orphanage grounds had a substantial wall all round them, and I don't see that.  There appear to be two fences with a lane between them, running obliquely between the photographer and the building, and that looks odd to me too.

There was a schoolhouse in the grounds, which had a small rectangular opening up on one of its walls, facing into the grounds.  It was filled in when we moved in, but I had always assumed that that had been where the bell was.

I could well be wrong, of course, and I would be very interested to see any other pictures that you have.


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It is the orphanage, if you look round the back on Google street view the door on the south side of that bit of the building has been filled in and the front of the building has changed since Mario delivered the easter egg.  My thoughts are the tower was above the old front door and was removed when it was converted to flats.  I will keep looking and asking to find out more.

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