Thursday, 14 November 2013

A little white house

Here is a photograph sent across to me quite recently of a little white house. I wonder whether any of our regular readers may have an inkling as to what this building (now converted to residential flats) used to be. The blue sky would probably give a good clue that it was not one of our Manchester homes….

The white house*

It is in fact Marchmont House, the emigration receiving home situated at 193 West Moira Street, Belleville, Ontario. This photograph was taken last month to show the building which saw 2129 children from the Manchester Refuges and Homes pass through its doors.

Marchmont, 1894
The above photograph shows Marchmont as it used to be. Comparing the two pictures, despite the removal of the veranda which surrounded the building and the cladding of the walls, the shape of the building and its windows remain the same.

This building was constructed in December 1875, replacing the old Marchmont Home which had burnt down in March. For the next 50 years it housed around 12,000 children before they were placed out in the surrounding community to be trained as farm workers or domestics. As well as the house, the 3 acres of land that surrounded Marchmont also had outbuildings for horses, cows and chickens. An orchard, vineyard and gardens supported the physical needs of the residents, whilst a chapel was built to fulfil their spiritual needs. 

The remains of the chapel*
One thing remained poignant to the photographer on that sunny day, standing in the awnings of Marchmont. Toys belonging to the children, who lived in the flats, had been left outside by their owners as school beckoned. The purpose of the building has substantially changed but the presence of children playing in its grounds remains.   

*Copyright P. Lee

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