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The name Carstairs (Gaelic: Caisteal Tarrais) refers to a pair of villages located some 4–5 miles east of the town of Lanarkmarker in the administrative region of South Lanarkshire in southern Scotlandmarker.

Carstairs proper ("Carstairs village") is the original settlement, whilst one mile away is Carstairs Junctionmarker, which grew up around Carstairs railway stationmarker. The junction served by the station is an important one on the West Coast Main Linemarker: it is at this point that long-distance trains from Englandmarker are routed to either Glasgowmarker or Edinburghmarker.

Carstairs has also gained a certain notoriety as the location of the State Hospital for Scotland and Northern Ireland (also known as Carstairs Hospital), a maximum-security psychiatric facility where some of Scotland's most severe cases of mental illness are treated. Many of the patients have been convicted of serious offences and some are incarcerated at the facility indefinitely.

Carstairs also has a past. During the 1920s, the Ministry of Labour acquired Lampits Farm, Carstairs Junction, for use as a labour camp. By 1938 there were 35 so-called "Instructional Centres", with a capacity of over 6,000. Their role was to 'harden' young unemployed men and prepare them for work elsewhere. Lampits Farm was originally intended in 1929 to train young men in farm and forestry work, with a view to their emigrating to Canada or Australia; it became an Instructional Centre a year later. Many of the Carstairs inmates came from coal-mining and other industrial backgrounds in the West of Scotland. The Instructional Centres were closed in 1939, when it became clear that unemployment was declining in the run-up to war.


Source: John Field, "Learning through Labour: Training, Unemployment and the State, 1890-1939", Leeds University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-900-960-48-5

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