Galashiels Cottage Hospital

View of the original section of the cottage hospital, photographed in September 2022 © H. Richardson

Bak in 2016 the future of the former Galashiels Cottage Hospital seemed to be uncertain once again. When the Borders District General Hospital opened at Melrose in 1988, it had been intended that the cottage hospitals at Galashiels and Selkirk should close permanently, but the local health board changed its mind and decided it could find a new use for the buildings. For Galashiels, that new use was a rehabilitation unit for people with long-term mental health problems, and it re-opened as such under the name Galavale House. But more recently there have been concerns that the standard of accommodation is not longer fit for purpose, and a scheme was under consideration in 2015 to relocate services to Crumhaugh House, Hawick. However, when I visited the Galashiels in September, it was still very much in use.

View of the main front © H. Richardson

In 2006 Galavale House and lodge were listed category C (s) for their architectural and local historic interest. The origins of the hospital date back to 1891 when subscriptions were first raised for a cottage hospital in the town. Originally it was intended to be for accident cases, but in the end it took in medical and surgical cases, though paupers were excluded. Sick paupers were cared for at the local poorhouse.

Galashiels Cottage Hospital, engraved view from Building News, 1893

Built to designs by John Wallace of Edinburgh, the hospital was formally opened by the Earl of Dalkeith in November 1893. Wallace was originally from the Borders, and the few architectural commissions that he is known to have carried out were all in this area. In 1891, the year before he was commissioned to design the cottage hospital, he had designed Blynlee Tower in Galashiels.

View of the ward pavilion with its tall canted bay window. The glazing has changed, but otherwise not greatly altered. © H. Richardson

The plan below was not as executed, only the front wards were built, so at first there were just two wards with six beds each, and two single wards for private patients. The local building firm of Robert Hall & Co. carried out the construction work.

Detail showing the proposed plan of the hospital.
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Extract from the Galashiels & Selkirk Almanac and Directory of 1903

As built, the hospital comprised an appealing small scale building. The wide single‑storey centrepiece of the main block has generous roofs with dormers, and the eaves are supported on cast‑iron columns to create a verandah. The wards in the projecting outer bays are lit by broad bay windows.

This might be the nurses’ home (on the left) added in 1929-30. A more recent addition to the right. © H. Richardson

A small nurses’ home was built on the site with thirteen bedrooms in 1929-30 to designs by the local architects J. & J. Hall, John Hall was the nephew of Robert Hall, the builder of the original hospital. In 1938 extensions were built, in sympathetic style, to the south-west (Hume Ward) and north. In that year four beds were set aside for maternity cases.

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Extract from the 25-inch OS map revised in 1930. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
The ranges at the back of the hospital, usually these would house kitchen, laundry, sometimes an ambulance shed, mortuary etc. © H. Richardson
Lodge house, perhaps for matron or doctors © H. Richardson


The Builder, 18 June 1892, p.480; Building News, 24 Nov. 1893, p.703: Border Telegraph18 August 2015 accessed online 16 April 2016.

2 thoughts on “Galashiels Cottage Hospital

    • Dear Diane,
      Most patient records have a closure period of 100 years. If you are a relative I believe that you can apply for access to see records within the last century, or you may be able to request that the relevant archivist search for a particular patient. I would expect records to be deposited with the county archive. I’m not entirely certain, but your local history library or archive would be the best place to start, and I’m sure they would be able to advise you.
      best wishes,
      from Harriet

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