The Martha Frew Childrens Home

Crossford, Dunfermline, Fife
Photo:The long driveway to the Martha Frew Home

The long driveway to the Martha Frew Home


Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.
Aldous Huxley

Creating an Archive for a Children's Home
in Scotland 1951- 1978

Almost forgotten today in local history, the Martha Frew Childrens Home lives in the memories of those many children and infants now grown. This archive is created in part for those who spent some of their young lives within these walls and played in the wooded grounds.

A more defined presence in local history is taking place in Scotland but many of the social issues of Childrens Homes in those days still do not have their place within the local collective record .

For others who are researching Institutional Child Care in Scotland during these times it will provide a much needed journey in words and experiences, backed up by documentation.

This is a singular, ambitious archive regarding a Scottish Childrens Home that provided care to many children in Fife, Clackmannan and at times other counties. It will form a baseline for those who are aware that there is very little information of other Childrens Homes of that time.

A few old records still exist, some are missing, and even fewer reports, but the minutes still can be found. A file now redacted is at last open for scrutiny, but the full report is unavilable until 2060 under FOISA personal information rules. Images are few, in fact - none have surfaced yet for the 27 years the Martha Frew Home existed.

A long wooded lane arches around open farmland, some distance away from the local village of Crossford in Fife. This fine old house, well set in mature planned grounds became a Childrens Home through the vision and drive of the redoubtable and much respected Baillie, Miss Martha Frew's efforts. Her contribution will also be part of this archive in time.

The Martha Frew Childrens Home has since reverted back to its previous name - Keavil House and at present is an upmarket hotel of distinction. New houses have been built alongside the driveway. The total privacy has now gone.

This once beautiful retreat, became a Childrens Home between the years 1951 to 1978. 

Memories, information and photographs are much sought after to provide the history of this Scottish Childrens Home archive.

Contact e-mail

This page was added on 14/09/2012.

Comments about this page

This archive and its contents are but a start of precious detail recently uncovered and much needed. The truth and the facts are that until recently these jewels of our lives were lost and have now found a voice. For far too long the papers and histories have been lost or not collected, now the place and time have been made ready. I was a child who with my Brothers and Sister spent time at this home.

By Roger Fisher
On 17/09/2012

Martha Frew was undoubtedly a compassionate philanthropist who cared deeply for children in need. It seems though, that her great founding work and financial support were substantially undermined when the 'Martha Frew Home' passed into the management of others. My period as an inmate forms a very dark void in my life. Trauma has since erased many of the details that lurk deep in my subconscious memory, haunted by misty, monochromatic images of dangers unknown but almost tangible. A few overriding impressions occasionally resurface. Our 'sentence' at the Martha Frew Home was deeply disturbing. It was de-humanising on many levels. We never knew why we were there. No-one thought it was necessary to tell us. Being sentenced to shovelling tons of coal into the boiler-house seemed to me to be redolent of the worst of early workhouses. I recall that the shovel I used was taller than me. My overriding thoughts while there were of hatching an 'escape' to save us from the nightmare. Unfortunately that escape could only ever be a dream for those who were so young so it never happened. Perhaps just the thought of it was what kept us sane. Even at that early age I detected questionable characteristics in the proprietors who carried with them everywhere an air of threat and severe reprisal for any who dared step one inch out of line. Now, many years later, I cannot avoid reaching the fuzzy conclusion that all was not right there; that perhaps the 'Home' was run for a questionable social experiment or simply as a heartless money-making scheme for someone. Without full disclosure of the records who knows? The fact that the full report on the 'Home' is restricted and unavailable to the public, especially ex-inmates, until 2060 is iniquitous, a blatant manipulation and misuse of law. It indicates that there are indeed various murky facts that some with questionable motives have decided must be hidden, probably to protect those who were responsible for an unknown number of events that irreparably damaged many young souls both then and for the remainder of their lives. The full records of the Martha Frew Home and all who managed and monitored it should and must be made freely available to all without unnecessary or unreasonable delay. I don't seek revenge or reparation - too late for such a pointless pursuit. It is only from the truth that worthwhile lessons are learned.

By Michael Fisher
On 17/09/2012

I along with my three brothers were in the home around 1958 although of course memories are sketchy I do remember playing in the wooded grounds at a place I called the dookit

By terry foster
On 19/02/2014

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