Haunted by his orphanage stay

Smyllum Park
Smyllum Park

Acclaimed poet Eddie Linden has been recalling the two years he spent at a Lanarkshire orphanage.

Childhood memories came flooding back for the 82-year-old following the discovery of a mass burial plot containing the remains of around 400 children at Smyllum Park in Lanark, which was operated by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

Eddie found himself placed in the orphanage in 1947 at the age of 11 as his foster father’s new wife looked to get him out of their Bothwell house and his birth mother’s husband refused to allow him to live with them either.

A very shy, near illiterate child, he found it hard to adapt to institutional life and ever an outsider was bullied mercilessly during most of his stay.

Eddie said: “I was watching the documentary on the BBC about the mass grave being found at Smyllum Park and even after all these years it brought back what I experienced while I was there.

“I had a terrible childhood, but my time in Smyllum was a real horror story and by time I left at the age of 13, bordering on adolescence, I cannot think of a worse two years preparation for that difficult time.”

He moved to London in 1958 and became one of the leading figures on the international poetry scene through his journal Aquarius, which he published and edited from 1969.

Eddie detailed his whole tragic childhood and subsequent adventures in Sebastian Barker’s 1979 book, Who is Eddie Linden? which can still be found on the second hand market.