Welcome to Skene Street & Unitarian Church

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

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We stop here because while it is currently a centre for Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was once the location of the Unitarian Church and led by one of our VSA heroes, Reverend Webster. He started Fresh Air Fortnight in 1889, which enabled Aberdeen’s poorest children living in its slums, to benefit from a holiday in the countryside out at Linn Moor. His vision and his commitment to helping the most vulnerable members of the community saw over 8,000 children get an opportunity to access new clothes and shoes, as well as a holiday in the countryside with good food and sanitation facilities, things not normally part of their daily lives.

To hear more from Reverend Webster about Fresh Air Fortnight play here:

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“Having been brought up in Oldmeldrum I took the pleasures of country life for granted. But then one day wandering roon the slum areas o’ Aiberdeen amongst the peer urchins in tattered clithes it suddenly dawned on me. These craiturs hid never seen a country field or a ferm animal, never been able to breathe in clean air.

And I decided there and then that something had to be daen about it and with the support of the charity a scheme, which became known as Fresh Air Fortnight, was hatched. Every bairn was given a bath, which maist of them badly needed, before being kitted oot with new ciothes and shoes.

And then they were aff on the train. Oh it was amazing to see the wee bright faces starin’ oot of the carriage windaes in wonder at the ferm fields filled with cattle and sheep. For twa wiks the bairns enjoyed wholesome, healthy food, and plenty o’ it, and breathed fresh air, rinnin’ around enjoying themselves wi’ nae a care in the world.

The scheme, nae surprisingly, became instantly popular and in the first year alone 555 children took part and by 1906 it was so well established that a permanent home that could accommodate 50 children at a time was acquired at Linn Moor in Peterculter. Now that may was only have been some six mile from the centre o’ Aiberdeen but for the bairns going there it must have seemed like .... like a trip to the moon”.

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