Welcome to Adelphi Court

Our first stop is the location of the original office of the VSA

Click the audio link below to hear all about this stop:

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Our first stop is the location of the original office of the VSA. In March of 1870, inspired by similar poor associations in London, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Glasgow, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor was created. The organisation was founded by a group of people who were willing to do three things; make regular donations to support the poor, visit the poor to better help and understand the problems they faced, and to manage the Association. Over 500 visitors were recruited and each were allocated 10-12 families to begin building beneficial relationships of support and encouragement.

To hear more from the Lord Provost Alexander Nicol as to why Aberdeen was in need of such an Association, play here:

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“Back in 1870 Aberdeen was a prosperous place with a lot of rather wealthy individuals. Textile mill and paper mill owners. Granite merchants. Ship-owners, like maesel. All of us enjoying a life of luxury, living in big posh houses. But the other side of the coin was very different. Folk living in abject poverty, existing in crowded, disgusting slums trying to look after under nourished bairns. My four years as Provost showed me just how desperate the situation was and made me determined to do something about it as soon as I had handed back my chain of office.

And so on 10 March 1870 with a few like-minded men we set up the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. We were fortunate in rather quickly attracting the help of a remarkable 500 people all willing to give up their time in order to visit the poor and needy and, through gentle speech and behaviour, build up a supportive relationship with them. But organisations like our fledgling charity needed a figure head, one that the public could look up to, and we quickly realised that an ex Provost and a handful of well known businessmen was not enough. A few names were bandied about and some of the other committee members scoffed at my suggestion but I worked on the basis that it cost nothing to speer. So I did. After all the lassie I approached bade in Aberdeenshire, well some of the time anyway, and we were all delighted when a letter arrived to confirm that she would be agreeable to being our patron, a letter signed ‘Queen Victoria’.

We were off and running and ready to....what was the official description again? Oh aye, ‘to help the poor to help themselves. Foster among them habits of economy, industry and cleanliness, and consequently sentiments of independence and self respect’. It took us a while to make any real impact but eventually we were started to make progress”.

(walk across the street and go through McCombie Court and walk to St. Nicholas Street)

If your life has been touched by VSA, we invite you to share you story