Lennox Castle

Lennox Castle in 2014, photographed by Robert Adam at RCAHMS One of a series of aerial photographs of the site

Lennox Castle has been on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland since 1992, the website provides a good summary of the history of the building and the site. Rather wonderfully, the Book of Lennox Castle produced for the opening ceremony of the hospital in 1936 has been scanned and put online by S J McLaughlin, who has charted the history of the hospital and includes numerous photographs. Records from the hospital are deposited with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives.

An extraordinary aerial photo  posted early in 2014 shows part of the site after the patients’ blocks had been demolished. In 2006 planning permission was granted for this area to be developed as the Celtic FC training centre. Below is an aerofilms photograph, taken from the north in 1953, showing Lennox Castle on the right, and the former female division to the left. But this was only a part of the hospital site overall. The OS map from 1958 shows the other sections of the hospital. At this date the blocks to the north-east formed a separate maternity hospital.

Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS

The aerial photograph of that section of the hospital (below) was taken in 1953. It was turned into a maternity unit in 1941, as part of the Emergency Medical Scheme during the Second World War and continued as such until 1964. All the buildings were demolished to make way for a housing development, for which planning permission was granted in 2006.

Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS. This shows the former male division which became an emergency hospital during the Second World War and partly used as a Maternity Hospital.

Below is a revised version of the piece I wrote on the hospital around 1990. I remember the hospital quite well, it was one that was particularly impressive, architecturally and for its setting. It was quite a shock to see what has happened since.

LENNOX CASTLE HOSPITAL, LENNOXTOWN   Lennox Castle, situated at the western edge of the hospital complex, was built between 1837 and 1841 to designs by David Hamilton.

Lennox Castle, before it became a roofless ruin, photographed by RCAHMS

It was designed in a picturesque neo‑Norman style with castellated and battered walls, and an imposing porte‑cochere. In the 1980s there were some fine interiors on the principal floor but the building had suffered badly from subsidence. The external stonework was also in very poor condition near the ground and had been roughly patched up with concrete rendering.

View of the dining-room ceiling at Lennox Castle, photograph from RCAHMS, nd.

In April 1925 Glasgow Parish Council resolved to build a new Mental Deficiency Institution under the provisions of the 1913 Act. In 1927 Lennox Castle and its vast estate were purchased, and plans prepared for what was to be the largest and best equipped hospital of this type in Britain. It was to provide 1,200 beds at a cost of 1.25 million. Work began in 1929 to designs by Wylie, Shanks & Wylie. The hospital was finally completed in 1936. The site was divided into five sections; a male division, a female division, a hospital section, married staff houses and the engine house. The male and female sections each consisted of ten dormitory blocks for 60 patients. These were split into two main wards with 28 beds and two side rooms with two beds, together with a day‑room and sanitary annexe. Meals were to be provided in two central dining‑halls capable of seating 600 patients each. Above the dining‑hall, accommodation was provided for unmarried male attendants.

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The Assembly Hall, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

Lennox Castle itself was adapted into a nurses’ home. There was also a central Assembly Hall for all the patients, it contained a large hall with a stage and equipment for cinema shows as well as some administrative offices. All the new blocks were built of brick and incorporated many innovative features, in particular the heating system which operated on a system of underground tunnels.

The dining-hall block, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed about 1990 © Harriet Richardson

There was a considerable variety of plan and composition which added interest to the site. The Assembly Hall and dining‑halls featured arched windows on the ground floor and each had a central bold entrance bay. On the Assembly hall this comprised a grand arch rising the full‑height of the building and framing the porch, and on the dining‑hall blocks the door was set into an arch, which in turn was in a tall gabled centrepiece. The varied roof-line also added interest. A charming octagonal tea‑room in two tiers with plenty of windows, echoed the tea pavilion at Glen‑o‑Dee Hospital.

Lennox Castle Maternity Hospital and Institution, from the OS map published in 1958. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

During the Second World War the male division (on the map below) was taken over by the government for use as an Emergency Hospital and the male patients were moved to six of the villas in the female division and hutted ward blocks that were constructed near the Castle. Although intended for air raid casualties, the emergency hospital was not needed and so the beds were made available to relieve pressure on hospital accommodation in Glasgow. A post-confinement maternity unit was established at the site in 1941, initially in one villa consisting of three wards, plus another villa that was reserved for gynaecology cases.

The Maternity Hospital from the OS map revised in 1966, after it had ceased to take maternity patients. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Although Lennox Castle was twenty miles from Glasgow, the maternity provision here, with its beautiful rural surroundings, proved very popular. Initial space for 30 patients was soon increased to 60 by using another villa. A certain number of women each week were transferred after confinement from one or other of Glasgow Corporation’s maternity units. The increasing demand for maternity beds in Glasgow was becoming harder to meet. In 1942 the total number of maternity beds available in voluntary and municipal institutions was 461, including ante-natal beds. In addition there were about 150 in nursing homes, and 44 beds for unmarried girls in four private homes. An extension of 32 beds was made at the Eastern District Hospital, and under the government evacuation scheme beds for expectant mothers were available at Haddo House, Peebles, Kilmacolm and Airthrey Castle.

Further beds were made over for maternity cases at Lennox Castle during and after the war. In 1960 work began on a new maternity hospital at Yorkhill, and additional beds were  provided at Redlands, and Robroyston Hospitals, and pavilions at Belvedere Fever were converted to maternity use, but there were still not enough beds to meet demand. Lennox Castle continued to provide maternity beds until 1964 when the Queen Mother’s Hospital at Yorkhill was completed. [Sources: Glasgow Corporation, The Book of Lennox Castle, Glasgow, c.1936. Glasgow Herald, 15 May 1936, p.12; 29 Sept. 1936, (ill.): RCAHMS, Inventory, Stirling, Vol.2, p.358.]

53 thoughts on “Lennox Castle

  1. Hi Margaret and Susan, I would also love a photo of the maternity home. I was born in Lennox Castle in 1953 and my brother in 1955. Regards, Irene

  2. hello I am also interested in a photo of the maternity home…I was born there in 1951. please let me know if you have found a way of getting one.

    Thank you.


    • I was also born there in March 1951..I have managed to get a copy of my mums medical letter while she was there.

  3. Hi, I’m trying to trace photographs of my aunt Margaret Anne Reid who resided their from 1959 until 1992. Any assistance on is greatly appreciated. Nat

    • My Aunty live in Lenox castle went all the time to visit loved it my Aunty Wilma clark Adam lived from around 1954 to 1999 sadly passed away x

  4. Hi, I too was born there in 1957 have looked at a few websites and am unable to find any pictures of the maternity huts

    • My Mum Catherine King was born there in 1944, I am finally going to visit in a few weeks, I can’t wait!

  5. I, too, was born in Lennox Castle Hospital.
    I have heard there were three Hospitals where a pregnant woman could be taken from Glasgow to give birth.
    Can anyone tell me the names of the other two Hospitals?.
    Also, why were some women sent to Lennox Castle? What was the criteria applied?

    • Hi I to was born at Lennox castle 19th November 1955 and unfortunately was given for foster only was never allowed to be adopted.

      • My aunt was moved to lennox Castle from a home in Dumbarton as no one adopted her. She was mentally and physically handicapped. I was told if no one adopted her before the age of 5 thats why you went to live in a section of Lennox Castle.

  6. Like Paul I’d love to know the criteria. I was born in Lennox Castle in 1950 – my father was then serving as a Prison Officer at HMP Barlinnie and he and my mother had a married quarter near the jail – it seems a long way to send a woman from Glasgow to Lennoxtown to give birth.

  7. I was born there in February 1956. I didn’t realise it was so far from Glasgow so now wondering why my mum went there to give birth. I can only think that maybe there weren’t many closer available maternity beds.

  8. I too was born in Lennox Castle in November 1955. My parents lived near the art gallery in Glasgow and have wondered why my Mother was taken so far out of the city to give birth in what I believe was a cold winter.
    Any photo would be greatly received.

  9. I was born at Lennox Castle in June 1954. My parents lived in Govan, Glasgow. It seems a long way to go to give birth. I assume hospitals more central to Glasgow must have been full?
    Like other people I’d be fascinated to see photos of the hospital from the time.

    • This is the question, for which, we’re trying to find the answer. There must have been some type of system, or protocol, but we’ve been unable to surmise what that might be. It’s a shame we can’t locate someone connected to Lennox Castle, who might have then answers.

      (My Mum, too, lived in Govan at the time of her pregnancy. I was born in 1962.)

      • Like others here I would love to know the answer. I was born in Lennoz Castle in April 1950. My father at the time was an officer at HMP Barlinnie and both he and my mother lived in Prison Quarters near the jail. There seems no logic as to how my mother was sent to Lennotown for the birth.

      • I have the same question. I was born in Lennox Castle Nov. 1955. My parents lived in Argyle Street near the Art Gallery and Western Infirmary. Again wondering why my Mum was taken out of Glasgow.

      • After the Second World War and in the early years of the NHS there was a severe shortage of nursing staff and of maternity beds. At the same time there was a rise in the demand for maternity beds. Until the new maternity hospital was opened at Yorkhill, large numbers of maternity cases were sent all the way to Lennox Castle. This site offered enough beds, a healthy situation out of the polluted city centre, and the opportunity to stay in hospital to recuperate. The downside, obviously, was the distance from where the mothers and their families lived.

    • The author states Lennox Castle Hospital was turned into a maternity hospital in 1941. This is incorrect only a few of the wards became maternity the
      greater number retained their original purpose.

      • Thank you for your comment Brian. I thought that the text was fairly clear that only a part of the hospital was converted for maternity cases, but obviously not if you were mislead. I will try to make it clearer.

  10. While that’s a wonderful answer Harriet, it still does not answer why some women were sent to Lennox Castle, while others remained in Glasgow.
    Obviously it was not done geographically, as women were sent from all over the City. It’s an enigma.

    • I don’t know – it may have been partly down to the choice of either the mother or the mother’s GP, or to availability of beds at the time. It is possible that there may be medical staff around still today who might remember how it all worked.

      • Thank you for your reply, Harriet. Now, if we were able to locate an employee ‘in the know’!

  11. My husbands mother was initially sent to Duke street hospital to give birth but sent away as they were full. Eventually taken to Ross Hall at Paisley., though I believe Ross Hall was closer to Pollock area but has a Paisley postcode. Interesting article Harriet..I’m interested in the old history of the Lennox estate and trying to find a map. Whilst out walking we’ve come across the original stone walls in and around Lennox Forest.

  12. I was a nurse at Lennox Castle Hosputal. Frequently worked in the hospital section which was once the Maternity ward.
    You may be able to contact the Kirkuntilloch Herald which was the local newspaper for pictures.

  13. Hi.
    I was born in Lennox castle hospital in 1951.The reason my mum had me there was due to the fact the hospitals in Glasgow were full.Mum was transported by ambulance.As mum became quite ill after l was born she stayed there for 2 weeks.l am in Australia now and have been back to visit.

  14. I was born in Lennox castle July 1955. We stayed in Govan, Glasgow, at the time but as there were no available maternity beds in Glasgow or even Paisley my mum was “shipped out “ to Lennoxtown.
    My middle name is Stephen, I’m named after a Nurse Stephanie, a West Indian midwife who attended my Mum so the care and treatment she received must have been excellent.

      • Hi Harriet, thanks for your efforts in keeping our history alive.
        Re the lack of beds in Glasgow, my mum was taken by ambulance to three Glasgow hospitals and then the Royal Alexandria in Paisley but “ no room at the inn” so off to Lennoxtown we went. My Dad maintained visiting wasn’t that arduous, two minute walk to Copland Rd subway, ten minutes to Buchan street , quick walk to the Bus station then half hour jaunt into the county – the integrated public transport system of 1955!
        The story was that my mum was having a hard time delivering me, her third, but Nurse Stephanie helped her through. When my mum thanked her she said jokingly “ Oh you can always name baby after me, unless it’s a boy of course, my name is Stephanie” and went away giggling.
        Our family tradition is to give middle names of much loved relatives, but such was my parents’ affection for and respect of this young lady they “bent the rules” with me and “Stephanie” Tom male form as Stephen.

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  16. I was born there in July 1954. No room at Rottenrow, where my brother was born a few years later. My parents lived in Oatlands so it was a trek for my Dad and both sets of grandparents to get to Lennoxtown. My father told me the birth was a bit of a performance – the umbilical cord was round my neck and it was an emergency c-section. My mother was there for a few weeks in recovery – imagine that happening now. My dad said he remembered me in a room with other babies in little cots like incubators, with Frank Sinatra music playing – there was music playing years later when both of my kids were born, and maybe it all just calms things down. I made a few trips over the years to Lennox Castle grounds, but I was never sure where the maternity units were and they are all gone now, of course.

  17. I too was born in Lennox town Maternity
    Hospital .My parents lived in oat lands so was a bit of a hike for any visits

  18. I was born here February 6th 1950. tried to find out about the place, but not much info available! Was it a Military base or Officers families hospital? Something fishy about the times!

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