William Quarrier, successful Glasgow shoe retailer, began caring for orphaned and destitute children in Glasgow in the early 1870s. He, himself, had experienced a very impoverished childhood, a situation which he overcame through hard work, determination and Christian faith.
Realising large institutional orphanages offered little in the way of a home environment to children in their care, Quarrier determined from an early age to set up a children’s village, where poor children from the towns and cities of Scotland might enjoy a new life in cottage homes, under the supervision of house fathers and house mothers.
With the support of a growing band of committed supporters, Quarrier was able to purchase land at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, and began to set up the Orphan Homes of Scotland (now Quarriers).
The building of the first cottage in Quarriers Village began in 1877. Work followed shortly after, the following year, on the central building- now Sommerville Weir Hall and the home of our cafe.
Over the next 20 years, the Orphan Homes developed as a self contained community comprising over 40 children’s cottages, Mount Zion Church, a large school, a fire station, workshops, farms and other facilities. William Quarrier also opened the first TB sanitarium in Scotland next to the village and set in train plans for a care facility for people with epilepsy, which opened in 1906, three years after Quarrier’s death.
The Orphan Homes continued operating much as Quarrier had begun until the late 1970s to 1980s. During the 1920s and the 1930s, over 1,500 children lived in the village at any one time. In total, between 1878 and the mid 1980s, over 30,000 children were cared for in Quarrier’s children’s village.
Major changes in childcare practice and legislation caused a drastic reduction in the number of children cared for in Quarriers Village during the 1970s and 1980s. Over the ensuing years, and particularly since 1993, major changes have taken place in Quarriers in respect of the range of services it provides and where they are provided
While Quarriers headquarters remains in the original village, the services of the charity have spread nationally and beyond. Many of the original cottages are now privately owned and Sommerville Weir hall still serves as a central community hub for the village. Three Sisters Bake occupies the ground level and the newly renovated first floor hall provides a venue space and community facility for the village.