Lord & Lady Polwarth's

Children's Home

22 Colinton Road, Edinburgh

22 Colinton Road    -    2007

No 22, Colinton Road, Edinburgh  -  formerly 'Lord & Lady Polwarth's Children's Home for Under Fives'

©  peter.stubbs@edinphoto.org.uk                                                                                            Photograph taken June 4, 2007 at 1.23pm


22 Colinton Road

In the 1940s, 22 Colinton Road was 'Lord & Lady Polwarth's Children's Home for Under Fives'.  It was in the care of the Church of Scotland.

The house still stands in its grounds today (2007), near the eastern end of Colinton Road, close to Napier University's buildings at 'Holy Corner'; but it appears to be no longer a children's home.

When this photograph was taken in June 2007, the house was being renovated.  The blue Church of Scotland plaque can still be seen on the gatepost in the photo below, but the large board beside the gate is an advert for ELS -  Edinburgh Letting Solutions -  offering  'Full letting and management services'  and 'Comprehensive refurbishment service'.

No 22:  zoom-out

   No 22, Colinton Road, Edinburgh  -  formerly 'Lord & Lady Polwarth's Children's Home for Under Fives' ©




Chris Mallett

Mackay, Queensland Australia

Thank you to Chris Mallett who wrote:


"I've just discovered your photo of the former Lord and Lady Polwarth Children's Home.  I was a resident there from when I was 2 weeks old, to when I was almost four years, between 1956 to 1960

I came to Australia in December 1971, when I was fifteen.  I travelled by myself.  My mother's brother and family were here.  He had travelled to Australia under the 'Big Brothers' scheme when he was sixteen.

I have had a wonderful life here, and now live in Mackay, Queensland, Australia, about 1000km north of Brisbane."

Chris Mallett, Mackay, Queensland, Australia:  January 1 + 3, 2010




Mary McGhee


Thank you to Mary McGhee who wrote:


"I lived in Polwarth Children's Home from 1967 to 1971 with my older brother, Walter.  I have lots of happy memories of my time there from age 2-7 years old.

How can I go about finding information about the home, and possibly getting in touch with others who lived there around that time"

Mary McGhee, Edinburgh:  July 22+23, 2011

Reply to Mary?

If you'd like to send a reply to Mary, please email me then I'll pass your message on to her.      Thank you

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  July 23, 2011






Angela Bunt

South Gyle, Edinburgh

Thank you to Angela Bunt who replied:

1972 to 1977

"Hi Liz:

I also stayed at Lord Polwarth's Children's Home with my twin brother from around 1972 to 1977.  I think I had a room at the top left of the stairs

I remember the garden at the front with the fence, playing with my big orange space hopper.

I also remember having a friend there who was in a wheel chair"

Angela Bunt, South Gyle, Edinburgh:  May 3, 2013
Angela tells me that her twin brother is also still living in Edinburgh, at Clermiston.




John Paul

Cove, Borders, Scotland

Thank you to John Paul who wrote:


"I lived in Polwarth Children's Home in Colinton Road, opposite George Watson's School from 1970 to 1974.  I was a boy, 6 to 10 years old, then.

I have many happy memories there, and used to go to Bruntsfield Primary School.  We used to get up to all sorts of mischief.

I met the Lord Provost once at the home and was photographed for The Evening News wearing his hat."

John Paul, Cove, Borders, Scotland:  February 21 + March 8, 2012




Liz Scott (née Redfearn)

Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Liz Scott who wrote:


"I trained in nursery nursing in Lord & Lady Polwarth Home from 1969 until 1971.  I remember Mary McGhee (2 above) and her brother, Walter with great fondness.  It was lovely to see that she had enjoyed her time at the home.

I'd love to hear from others who were there.  I remember:

-  Matron McLellan

-  Miss Adamson

-  Miss Cattanach

-  Grace Collins

-  Jenny Wordsworth"

Liz Scott (née Redfearn), Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland:  Mar 27 +  Apr 1, 2012

Reply to Liz?

If you'd like to send a message to Liz, please email me, then I'll give you her email address.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  April 1, 2012

Message for Liz

Hello again Liz:

I've now received 'Reply 1 below'  I hoped to be able to let Helen (below) know how to contact you, but unfortunately I can no longer find your email address.  So if you read this, can you please email me to let me know your current email address.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  January 8, 2012






Helen Grant (née Cattanach)


Thank you to Helen Grant who replied:

Miss Cattanach

"With regards to the comments from Liz Scott (Redfearn) above, I am the Miss Helen Cattanach that she mentions. I am now Mrs Grant.

As a member of staff at Lord and Lady Polwarth's Children's Home, I have fond memories of lots of the children there.

I do remember Liz, but did she use a different Christian name then?  I think she came from the same village as Margaret.  I have no contact with her LIz, but I have had contact with Ann she mentioned and also with Sandra.

I have photos of some of the children that we took care of.

I worked 1967-1970 then came home to the north and worked in nursery school now I am retired."

Helen Grant (née Cattanach), Scotland:  January 8, 2013

I've now passed on Liz's email address to Sandra, so Sandra can now try to contact Liz if she wishes to.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  January 8, 2013






Angela Bunt

South Gyle, Edinburgh

Thank you to Angela Bunt who replied:

1972 to 1977

"Hi Mary:

My twin brother and I were also at Lord Polwarth's Children's Home from 1972 till around 1977.

I have find memories of the place placing on my bright orange space hopper at the front of the house, beside the metal fence.

I also remember the big staircase, and that my bedroom was on the left-hand side.

I remember having a. friend there who was disabled or in a wheelchair."

Angela Bunt, South Gyle, Edinburgh:  May 3, 2013
Angela tells me that her twin brother is also still living in Edinburgh, at Clermiston.




Walter McGhee


Thank you to Walter McGhee for adding to his sister's comment in Recollections 2 above.

Walter wrote:

Happy Times

"As my sister Mary said, we had many happy times in the children's home at Polwarth.  All the staff treated me and my sister with kindness.

-  We went to Kinghorn every year on holidays for two weeks.

-  I went horse riding and ice skating, I think most weeks.

-  I loved my trips ice skating and playing football.

-  I remember playing football with the Lord Provost on his visit.

-  I remember John Paul well, a small lad from Castlemilk, Glasgow.

-  I'm sorry,  I cant remember Liz.

-  I remember calling the staff Auntie  Ann, Auntie Mary, etc."

Walter McGhee, Edinburgh:  July 2, 2012  (2 emails)




Georgina Beaton

Following up on the comments from Chris Mallett in Recollections 1 above, Georgina Beaton wrote:

Happy Times

"I also resided at this Lord & Lady Polwarth's Children's Home in 1956.  I have drawn a blank in finding out about this place.

I would like to trace records of my time there,  'till I was adopted. Do you have any information or links that i could follow?"

Georgina Beaton:  August 18, 2012

Hi Georgina:

Children's Home  -  Any More Info?

I don't have any information about the children's home other than what I have recorded above.  Perhaps somebody will read your comments and send a reply to me**.  If they do, I'll send you an email to let you know.

I'll also send you, today, the email address in Australia that I have for Chris Mallett (Recollections 1 above).  I hope the email address will still be current and that you will be able to contact Chris.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 1, 2012

** Update

I'm pleased to say that I've now received Reply 1 below.  Thank you Mary.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  November 13, 2012






Mary McGhee


Thank you to Mary McGhee for reading Recollections 6 above and sending this reply, which I hope will be helpful to Georgina and perhaps also to anybody else who might be looking for information about their stay in Polwarth Children's Home.

Mary wrote

How to Find Information

"I see that Georgina Beaton wants information about her time at Polwarth Children's Home.

I recently applied for my care records held by Edinburgh City Council.  The records that I received had very detailed information about my time in Polwarth Children's Home.

Georgina should write to Edinburgh City Council at:

Freedom of Information,
Level 3.1,
Waverly Court,
4 East Market Street ,
Edinburgh EH8 8BG.

I hope that Georgina will find what she is looking for."

Mary McGhee, Edinburgh, 8+13 November 2012




Morag Macrae

Thank you to Morag Macrae who wrote:

Nursery Nurse

"I was recently thinking of my days at Lord and Lady Polwarth Home, and was amazed to find your website.  I worked as a nursery nurse aged 16, in April 1963, until December 1964.

I then went on to train at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children and have worked with children for the rest of my working life."


"Matron McLellan came towards at the end of my time at the children's home.  I cannot remember what the previous matron was called.  She was a very striking woman with silver hair.  At that time we had children from young babies up to age  five."


"The children I remember were a brother and sister, called Ian and Olivia.  I'd love to be in touch with anyone who worked there, or lived there."

Morag Macrae:  September 9, 2012

Reply to Morag Macrae

If you are Ian or Olivia - or anybody else who remembers Morag - and would like to contact Morag, please email me, then I'll pass on her email address to you, so that you can send a message to her.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  May 5, 2013




I have now removed these recollections from the web site at the request of the contributor.                  

Peter Stubbs:  17 May 2020




David Abercrombie

Thank you to David Abercrombie who wrote today, sadly telling me that his mum had just passed away, quite suddenly.


-  I'm sorry to hear the news about your Mum.

-  Please accept my condolences.

-  Can you tell me her name?  Then, I'll include it on this page.  Thank you.

-  I hope you get a response to your message below.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  June 15, 2014

David wrote:

My Mum
Margaret Campbell

"My mum, Margaret Campbell, has just passed away quite suddenly and I am writing a eulogy for the funeral on Friday.

My mum was from Etal in Northumberland.  I think she was there until 1969.

Please Contact Me

Helen Grant wrote a Reply to Recollections 4 above in 2013.

I think she mentions mum.  I'd love to get in contact with people who worked with mum, or even better some of the kids she looked after. She spoke so fondly of:

-  little John Paul

-  Edward and Elizabeth who came to stay at Etal many times.

If there was any way to find any of these people, it would just be amazing.  I'd be happy for anyone to email me.  Thanks and let's hope!

David Abercrombie:  June 15 +18, 2014

Reply to David Abercrombie?

If you'd like to send a reply to David, please email me, then I'll pass on his email address to you.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  June 15, 2014




David Abercrombie

Following up his message in his Recollections 9 above, David wrote again saying:

Margaret Campbell's Funeral

Please Contact Me

"The Funeral for my mum, Margaret Campbell, will be on Friday this week, June 20, 2014.

-  Do you remember her from Lord & Lady Polwarth's Children's Home, Colinton Road, Edinburgh?

-  Did Margaret Campbell, perhaps, care for you there?

-  Have you kept in touch with any of the children who were in the home or any of the other helpers?

If so, please let me know."

David Abercrombie:  June 18, 2014

Reply to David Abercrombie?

If you'd like to send a reply to David, please email me, then I'll pass on his email address to you.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  June 18, 2014


Thank you to:

-   Elizabeth Scott (née Redfearn) and

-   Helen Grant

for sending me some of your recollections and your condolences for David Abercrombie this week.  I've now passed on your messages to David.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  June 20, 2014




Sandra Mitchell  (née Millar)

Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Thank you to Sandra Mitchell who wrote:

Margaret Abercrombie RIP

"I was very sad to hear of Margaret Abercrombie's sudden death, I kept in touch with her for many years and have very fond memories of our time as nursery nurses at Polwarth."

The Children

"I also remember so many of the children and have some photos of a few of the children that we looked after.

I remember:

-   Walter and Mary

-  Edward and Elizabeth, who David mentioned

-  Fiona McLennan, who I was very fond of.  She went through to Glasgow to be nearer her Mum.  Her birthday is 19 Oct, and I always think of her then and wonder how she is.

I'm so glad to see the children who have written to you say they were happy and well looked after. So many names are coming to mind:

-  Carol Pottinger, a tiny blond-haired girl that my mum and dad used to have for weekends.  I have lots of photos of her.

-  Esther, Robert, who flooded the playroom one day, leaving the taps running!

-  Janet who had lovely red hair and her brother Derek.

The Nurses

"I also remember and a couple of nursery nurses, and Jenny Fraser, Rosie Abercrombie."

Sandra Mitchell (née Millar), Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland:  June 26+28, 2014




Michael Houston

Thank you to Michael Houston who wrote:


"I was at The Lord and Lady Polwarth Home from February 1968 until at least October of the same year, probably longer, maybe a year in total."

The Little Brown Boy

"I was a little brown baby, half Indian, half Scottish, so this may make it easier for some to remember me.  I would have been around 4 months old when I came in and I know that I saw my first birthday whilst there.

 One thing does intrigue me.  Both my adoptive mother and my natural mother have told me that a lady would come every day to walk me in a pram and that this same lady bought me a new blue coat for my first birthday.

 If anyone remembers anything about me or this lady or just anything about the home around this time period, I would love to hear about it. If there were any photos that would be fantastic, even photos of the interior or exterior of the house around this time.

Thank you.

Michael Houston:  9 July 2016

Reply to Michael

I hope somebody will be able to send a reply to Michael.  I'm sure he would appreciate that.

If you'd like to send a reply to him, please email me to let me know, then I'll pass on his email address to you.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  10 July 2016




Glenda MacLeod

Oban, Argyll, Scotland

Thank you to Glenda MacLeod who wrote:


"I've been looking at the memories of the children of Polwarth.  I am one.  I was 2 and a few months old when I entered the House.

I don't remember arriving there, but  I do  remember crying in a high sided cot, painted silver, that was rough to touch.  (That's my first memory.)

A nurse who had been lurking on the stairs came to shush me. She was kind.  Her name was Kathleen.

When Sheila was on duty, I hated it as she told us to shut up. That was around 1952 -53."

Glenda MacLeod, Oban, Argyll, Scotland   February 17, 2016




Sandra Mitchell  (née Millar)

Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Thank you to  Sandra Mitchell  (née Millar) after reading Michael Houston's comments in his Recollections 12 above.

Sandra wrote:

Michael Houston

"I have just been looking at this page again and have noticed that Michael Houston has written.   I remember him very well.  He was one of the babies I used to take home for a weekend sometimes.

I'm wondering if it was my mum who gave him the blue coat, she was a dressmaker and often made things for the children, especially Carol who she and my dad often took out.

One time when I had Michael home mum and I had gone shopping with him in the pram (facing away from us).  WE HAD  bought a nice loaf of bread to have for lunch, and when we got home we found Michael had worked away at the loaf and half of the inside was missing!

He was a gorgeous baby and quite easy going.   Unfortunately I don't seem to have any photo's of him.  I do hope he has had a good life,

I often think of the children and wonder how they turned out. Though I am a great grandmother of a 1 year old, the time I was at Polwarth only seems like yesterday, not 50 years ago!!! "

Sandra Mitchell (née Millar), Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland:  17 May 2018


Colinton Road

Around Edinburgh