In this section of the site, we have included some oral history from the project.

Ron Aitchison Interview 14th June 2022

Ron Aitchison was looked after at the Aberlour Orphanage from 1950 until 1964.  Since leaving the orphanage, Ron has built up a collection of items relating to it such as photographs, magazines, diaries, correspondence, and other artifacts.  His personal archive is stored at The University of Stirling along with the main Aberlour Archive.  

As part of the ARCH Project, Ron agreed to be interviewed about his experiences and his own archive and this took place on 14th June 2022 at the University of Stirling.  Miriam Buncombe, Research Fellow on the ARCH Project, and Jennifer Roache, Archivist on the Archives Revealed Project, undertook this interview with Ron.  The interview was almost 2 hours long and an audio version has been made available in the link below.  It has also been separated into 31 shorter clips that deal with specific topics and these are listed below along with brief descriptions of the topics discussed. These clips are largely in the order that they were discussed in the interview with the exception of clips 10 and 27, which include content on the same topic taken from different points in the interview. Click on each link to access the audio content. A full, accurate transcript of the interview is currently being developed and will be made available soon.

You can access the full interview here. It’s 1 hour, 55 minutes and 42 seconds long.

File NameLength of Clip (minutes and seconds)Topics Discussed
01 RA Background04.37Ron discusses his own background and the reasons that he and his siblings came to be cared for at Aberlour Orphanage. 
02 RA Orphanage Background04.05Ron discusses some of the background to the orphanage, how it came to be established, initial funding, and the first warden, based on his own research and investigations. 
03 RA Boys Wing and Infirmary01.18Ron describes the boys wing of the orphanage, the infirmary, and the local doctor who took care of any medical needs. 
04 RA Princess Margaret Nursery01.56Ron discusses the opening of the Princess Margaret Nursery, where he was cared for when he was first at Aberlour, and meeting Princess Margaret. 
05 RA Day to Day Life03.14Ron discusses some day-to-day life including strictness, discipline, the openness of the building, the location, and daily duties. 
06 RA Reflections on experience, SW visits, and running away05.03Ron reflects on his own experiences at the orphanage, visits from his Edinburgh-based Social Worker, and on the impact of (other) children running away. 
07 RA Parents and Siblings03.50Ron talks about visits from his parents, the nature of his relationship with them, and the nature of his relationships with his siblings. 
08 RA Orphanage Aunts and Uncles02.34Ron describes the ‘aunts and uncles’ of the orphanage who were typically contacts via churches who would take some of the children on holiday. 
09 RA Investigations and feelings about it now.01.14Ron reflects on his own investigation into his childhood at Aberlour and how he feels about that looking back. 
10 RA Leaving the orphanage05.15There are two clips from different parts of the interview where Ron gives a powerful account of how difficult he found leaving the orphanage, highlighting some of the difficulties in terms of how the organisation approached endings at that time. 
11 RA House Names01.30Ron gives an account of the somewhat haphazard way in which the houses at the orphanage appeared to have been named. 
12 RA A working orphanage in a community 03.34Ron describes the size and scale of the operations at the orphanage including working farmland, a dairy, and the various ways in which the orphanage was connected into the local community. 
13 RA Funding and routes in02.47Ron describes the different ways that children came to be at the orphanage including the different forms of funding for each child. 
14 RA Name Calling01.45Ron reflects on the issue of name calling and its differing effects on different children. 
15 RA Siblings Friends House Master Love04.43Ron talks about (ineffective) efforts to help him and his siblings maintain relationships, his closeness with his friends, and his love and respect for his house master. 
16 RA Moving up a house01.14Ron describes the process of moving from one house to another once a certain age was reached. 
17 RA Gangs and relations with other children04.05Ron talks about his own involvement in gangs in the sense that children formed groups of trusted friends. 
18 RA Scouts Skills and long-term effects03.05Ron discusses his house parent’s interest in the scouts and how his involvement in these activities helped him build skills and attitudes that he took forward in lifelong terms. 
19 RA Being an Aberlour boy03.59Ron reflects on what he thinks the reasons were that he got on so well at Aberlour. 
20 RA Caring for vs. teasing each other02.44Ron describes the different ways that children at Aberlour would both care for each other and tease one another. 
21 RA House Masters and Discipline01.41Ron discusses the role of the House Master including their authority, provider of routine, and the types of disciplinary action that were taken. 
22 RA Sponsors and Funders01.11Sponsored beds did not make a difference to the day-to-day experience of the children.  Ron reflects on the ‘distance’ between sponsors and children during founders’ day. 
23 RA Resources donations gifts and Jupp sales08.24Ron describes the amount of donations and gifts, the way that these would arrive and be stored at the orphanage, and how the Jupp Sales were organised and run. 
24 RA Christmas02.51Ron reflects on his experiences of Christmas at the orphanage. 
25 RA Food Kitchens Cooking01.35Ron describes the scale of the cooking operation at Aberlour, gender roles in domestic activities, and lifelong skills. 
26 RA Documenting remembering and apprenticeships 05.44Ron reflects on different times that he would write to orphanage ‘aunts and uncles’ and other recording, including after he left the orphanage and recording how he got his first job via an apprenticeship for a local project. 
27 Aberlour Magazines04.22This includes two clips from different parts of the interview where Ron discusses the Aberlour Magazines, their accuracies and inaccuracies, and their role for the wider Aberlour ‘community’. 
28 RA Archive Closure Tower06.36Ron discusses some of the items in his own archive, the closure of the orphanage, including its demolition excluding the tower and the memorial garden. 
29 RA Archive Photos Grounds HM Diaries8.20Ron describes some of the items in his archive including photographs, maps of the grounds, and details from his house master’s diaries, which were gifted to him by his house master’s son. 
30 RA Own records access03.53Ron details his involvement with the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and how the team there helped him to access his local authority records and what these have meant for him. 
31 RA Why he collected his archive 04.38Ron discusses the circumstances of how he came to start collecting materials for his archive. 

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