Robert Gordon’s Hospital

Class Photo c 1880It was not until July 1750 that the school opened, with just 14 pupils, one teacher and a Headmaster. The boys chosen had to be the sons or grandsons of Burgesses of Aberdeen who had fallen on hard times. They lived in the Auld Hoose and were provided with food, books and a uniform. Robert Gordon’s aim was to provide them with a practical education which would fit them for employment. After their schooling they were apprenticed to craftsmen or merchants with the Governors paying their fees. If they completed their apprenticeship satisfactorily, they were awarded £5 to set themselves up in their chosen trade.

Gradually the numbers of pupils increased, as did the numbers of staff. The Master and the teachers had to be unmarried men who resided in the Auld Hoose along with the boys. Robert Gordon’s educational model proved a success for most of the boys and the Hospital continued to attract applications from families in need of charity. In 1830-33 the building had to be extended to accommodate extra pupils, with the east and west wings designed by city architect John Smith.

Later in the 19th century, however, it was felt that the age of residential schools for the poor had passed. In 1881 the Governors were authorised to convert the Hospital into a fee-paying day school to be known henceforth as Robert Gordon’s College.