Dozens of severely disabled children were buried in mass graves by the state
The names of the children can be revealed publicly today for the first time as the only memorial to the dead is a small carved inscription on the wall of an abandoned churchyard.
In addition, our investigation has found children from at least two other psychiatric hospitals in the Glasgow area were buried in unmarked graves.
The revelation adds weight to the calls for the disturbing history of common burials for children in care to be examined by the Scottish child abuse inquiry.
Last week, new research revealed up to 400 children who died at the Smyllum Park children who died at the Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark had been buried in an unmarked grave in the town.
A memorial to the forgotten orphans was erected at St Mary’s Cemetery in 2004 after the scandal was first exposed, although it was previously thought that only 120 children were buried there.
Remarkably, it can now be shown that the practice continued for more than a decade after this date for children who died while in the care of the NHS.
Alan Draper, from the In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) campaign group, said it was now “imperative” that Lady Smith and her inquiry team examine Lennox Castle Hospital and other such institutions.
As this newspaper has revealed, there is evidence disabled youngsters were subjected to medical experiments while they were in these hospitals.
Mr Draper said: “It is a situation that must be explored. We asked for medical experimentation to be included in the terms of the inquiry and now it is subject to survivors and family members coming forward.
“The mass grave at Smyllum is not a new story and Incas has held a memorial service at the cemetery for many years, but the paucity of records meant that until now the extent of the burials was not known.
“It is imperative that Lennox Castle Hospital is included in the inquiry. Who was authorised to carry out these burials and why were very young children in an adult institution in the first place? We need to know what happened to these children. How were they treated, what safeguards were in place to protect them and, most of all, how did they die?
“Of course, the issue is wider than Smyllum. I suspect that most Victorian institutions were burying children in mass graves. Questions need to be asked at the very highest level, especially where there is any suggestion that children were being subjected to medical experimentation and may have died as a result.
“These mass graves were not peculiar to the church-run institutions. State organisations were no different and a lot of people, including children, were detained in these hospitals simply for being ‘cretins’ or ‘idiots’, when many of them were more than capable of independent living. This needs to be investigated and no stone must be left unturned.”
Lennox Castle Hospital was the largest mental hospital in Britain when it was opened by the old Glasgow Corporation in 1936. At its peak, it housed as many as 1,500 patients aged from 10 to 80.
Once regarded as 100 years ahead of its time, it eventually became notorious for the isolation, neglect and abuse suffered by many of its patients and finally closed its doors in 2002.
Patients who died with no family to take care of their funeral arrangements were buried in a large unmarked plot at Campsie Cemetery in nearby Lennoxtown, alongside the now derelict Campsie High Church.
It is marked only by a faded inscription on the cemetery wall and burial records are kept by East Dunbartonshire Council. Further hospital records are held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, including a death register containing the names of dozens of children.
The causes of death include conditions such as “organic brain disease” and even “congenital idiocy”, while many youngsters had been in the hospital for several years when they died.
A note in the Waverley Park death register states: “Patients with no known relatives. Report death, inc particulars if available, mother’s maiden name, and whether previously married, father’s name and [pre-admission] address of patient, also time of death. Inform Burgh Engineer of patient’s death.”
The Mitchell Library also holds extensive registers of common ground burials, including countless thousands of the poorest citizens of Scotland’s largest city who were interred in unmarked graves over the past 150 years.
A brief review of just one cemetery, St Kentigern’s RC, revealed details of at least one child inpatient from the Birkwood Institute psychiatric hospital in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. There are also a great many children who died in the city’s regular hospitals, especially the old Ruchill and Belvidere fever hospitals.
But in many of these cases it is impossible to know whether the parents gave permission for their child to be given a pauper’s funeral.
A spokesman for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “So far more than 100 locations where historical abuse of children is said to have taken place have been identified, and the inquiry is currently investigating 69 residential care establishments for children.
“As the important work of the inquiry continues, we would encourage anyone with relevant information, where they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”
MORE CHILDREN’S UNMARKED MASS GRAVES IN SCOTLAND
- 400+ SCOTTISH ORPHANAGE CHILDREN BURIED IN UNMARKED GRAVE
- Sisters of Nazareth. Hundreds of Children in Unmarked Graves??
- Lennox Castle Hospital https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/08/27/lennox-castle-hospital/
- DISABLED CHILDREN “GROTESQUE” DRUG TESTS https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/03/25/lennox-castle-disabled-children-given-grotesque-drug-tests-sco/
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