If you have children missing from their family home in the 1921 census, especially in Glasgow, it may be worth widening the search to include seaside locations.

The charity Glasgow Poor Children’s Fresh Air Fortnight Scheme gave children two weeks away from their lives in overcrowded and deprived areas of Glasgow to let them enjoy the fresh air of the seaside. 

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, Valuation roll 90/173/644

The above entry from the 1920/21 Valuation Rolls tell us that the Rockville Home and Hospital on Canal Street in Saltcoats was owned by the charity. A search of the 1921 census reveals that on census day, 28 children under the age of five, all from Glasgow or the west of Scotland, were living at the home.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 615/11, page 12
Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 615/11, page 13

The entry includes twin girls Agnes and Elizabeth MacDonald, who were born in Rutherglen, Lanark.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, Births 654/177, page 59

The girls’ parents Edward and Christina can be seen in the census living at 5 Victoria Street, Rutherglen with 10 people sharing two rooms. Seven of the 10 were adults including Christina’s mother, who was 77 and her aunt who was 74. Once the twins came back from their fresh air fortnight there would be seven adults and five children living in two rooms.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 654/12, page 1

Another census entry from St Andrew’s, the Convalescent Home on Abbey Walk, includes an explanation for lack of some information: ‘These are poor children mostly of the vagrant class from Glasgow of whom it is almost impossible to get particulars’.

Is this also part of the Glasgow Poor Children’s Fresh Air Fortnight Scheme?

It would appear that the children must have arrived in St Andrew’s very close to census day as sisters Margaret and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Warner were recorded twice in the census.

As well as the record in St Andrews we can see them recorded with their parents in Glasgow at 5 Lancefield Street, where their grandfather is head of the house. Six people living in a home with two rooms. 

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 644/11/16, page 13

The census shows that these children came from very overcrowded living conditions in Glasgow and that the scheme not only allowed them a chance for a holiday by the sea but it also gave those at home a short break.

The census gives us much more than just details of those recorded. It helps to build a picture of life in 1921.

A BBC article from 2011 features Jim Kane, who shared his memories of being on a Fresh Air Fortnight trip when he was a young boy.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.