Inverurie Hospital, Aberdeenshire

Administration Block, Inverurie Hospital. Photographed October 2020  © H. Blakeman

Inverurie lies to the north-west of Aberdeen. A small hospital for infectious diseases was built in the town in the 1890s to serve the Garioch district. The site and plans were approved by the Local Government Board for Scotland in 1894-5, and the hospital opened in January 1897 (see map below). It had cost about £2,000.


Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1899. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The hospital was designed by Jenkins and Marr of Aberdeen, and comprised two separate sections in a single-storey and attic building. The smaller section contained two wards, which could be combined into one, with three beds each, and a small kitchen and lavatories. The larger section to the west had a large and a small ward, separated by folding doors, with seven and three beds respectively. The main kitchen, matron’s room, bathroom and staff bedrooms were also in this section of the building. 

This hospital was replaced in the 1930s by a new and much larger hospital, for a time the old building was use as council offices. The Medical Officer of Health’s Report for 1936 noted that the original hospital had been recognised as structurally unsuitable for infectious cases for a long time, and that the County Council had decided to erect a new hospital near by with between 60 and 70 beds. A serious epidemic of scarlet fever and diphtheria had highlighted the shortage of beds in the county, and the need for an up-to-date hospital able to cope with diseases of epidemic proportions. 

canmore_image_SC00976568-2Entrance to the hospital photographed in 2000, © Ian Shepherd,  from RCAHMS

The site had been acquired and plans prepared in by the architect R. Leslie Rollo in consultation with the Medical Officer for Health.  The plans were approved early in 1937. An article in The Scotsman headed ‘£50,000 Aberdeenshire Scheme’,  records that the construction of the hospital was to be of cement blocks, which had been recommended to the architect as both brick and granite would be very much more expensive. However, when the tenders were submitted the cost came in at around £60,000, with another £13,000 needed for the land, furnishings, equipment and architects’ fees. A number of councillors objected to the high cost, arguing that it was a waste of public money. Various suggestions for economies were made, but the original plans seem to have been adhered to. 

OS Map 1:1,250/1:2,500, surveyed/revised 1964 Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Hailed as the most ambitious hospital scheme that Aberdeenshire had ever financed, the hospital was finally completed in December 1940.  It was intended primarily to serve the suburban districts of Aberdeen, Garioch, Turriff, Ellon and Huntly. Provision was made for 60 beds, 20 in a cubicle block of two storeys and 40 in two single‑storey pavilions. These ward blocks were arranged around a square with the nurses’ home on the fourth side opposite the cubicle block.

View of the single-storey ward pavilion on the east side of the square. Photographed October 2020 © H. Blakeman

The single-storey ward pavilions were intended for scarlet fever and diphtheria cases and comprised wards of three and thirteen beds. The cubicle block could take doubtful cases or patients suffering from different diseases as each separate room or cubicle had just two beds (nine in all)  – usually these had glazed partitions between them. The cubicle block had an operating theatre and treatment room attached. 

View of the corresponding ward pavilion on the west side of the square. Photographed in October 2020 © H. Blakeman

There was also an administration block with kitchen, stores and dining‑rooms, located to the west of the wards and near the site entrance. This is a two-storey, T-plan building with large bow windows to the ground-floor rooms at either end of the main front, and a smart porch over the main entrance.  The buildings were designed in the streamlined manner of the International Modern style, with wide bow windows, on the lines of Tait’s Hawkhead Hospital in Paisley. 

The north elevation of the Nurses’ Home. Photographed in 2020 © H. Blakeman

The nurses’ home lies to the south of the wards, the main rooms enjoying a view south to a tennis court. Like the administration block, this has two bow windows to the outer ground-floor rooms, here leading out onto a terrace. There was accommodation for 46 staff, and training nurses had study room. Service buildings included a laundry and ambulance station, and boiler house to power the central heating system.

South elevation of the Nurses’ Home. Photographed in October 2020 © H. Blakeman

In 1958 Inverurie Hospital was adapted to maternity as well as general nursing cases. It had by then become part of the National Health Service and was part of the North Eastern Regional Hospital Board, based at Aberdeen. With the introduction of antibiotics the need for infectious diseases hospitals had greatly diminished, but there had been a rise in demand for maternity accommodation. An ageing population also created a shortage of beds for geriatric patients, and many of the smaller isolation hospitals became geriatric units. Inverurie was to provide 30 maternity beds, the rest for ordinary medical beds and some for the elderly. 

Later developments at the site included a standard plan 30‑bed ward unit, which opened in 1982. Plans for a major redevelopment were made in the early 1990s, intended to provide a geriatric unit, day hospital and facilities for occupational therapy and physiotherapy. These eventually seem to have been abandoned. More recently a new ‘Integrated Health Care HUB’  has been built, and the 1980s building demolished. The hub was the first phase in a projected larger scheme. It occupies the site of the cubicle isolation block and was designed by Mackie Ramsay Taylor Architects. Their brief was to provide for General Medical Practice, including minor injuries, a Community Midwifery Unit, Dental Suite, and various out-patient clinics. Plans were finalised in about 2015.  

With grateful thanks to my former colleague at the Survey of London, Sarah Milne’s grandmother, Elsie Cartney, a former nurse, who very kindly gave me a copy of the excellent history of the Inverurie hospitals produced by many of the people who worked there and published in 2004. 

View of the back of the admin block with one of the local residents in the foreground. © H. Blakeman

Sources: Grampian Health Board Archives, minutes of county council health committee: A History of Inverurie Hospitals, 2004: Ian Shepherd Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie – An Illustrated Architectural Guide, 2006: The Hospital, 3 April 1897, p.18: Medical Officer for Health for Aberdeenshire, Annual Report 1936;  Scotsman, 30 Jan 1937, p.1430 Oct 1937, p.17: Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 23 Nov 1939, p.4: Aberdeen P&J, 11 Dec 1940: Scottish Hospitals Survey, Report for the North Eastern Region, 1946: Aberdeen Evening Express, 6 Nov 1958, p.9: Aberdeen P&J 8 Feb 1991, p.33

Lennox Castle

canmore_image_DP00198787-2

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.

canmore_image_SC01438074

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.

canmore_image_SC01438075

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.

canmore_image_SC00373691

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.

canmore_image_SC01227120

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.

hospitals049 2

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.

hospitals045

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.]

Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital

 

2123470466_7b90d32951_o‘Airthrey Castle against the Blue’  by Amy Palko photographed in 2007, and licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

canmore_image_DP00093950

Below is the brief gazetteer entry of 1990, with additional notes in italics below. Airthrey Castle survives at the heart of University of Stirling

AIRTHREY CASTLE MATERNITY HOSPITAL, BRIDGE OF ALLAN   The hospital opened c.1941 in the mansion house, a daring design by Robert Adam in his castle style. However, it had closed by 1969 when the new maternity unit opened at Stirling Royal Infirmary. The estates of Airthrey Castle were built on to form Stirling University.

Revisions

Adam drew up designs for Airthrey Castle in 1791, but was not involved with its construction. Building work was supervised by Thomas Russell of Seton. The entrance front was rebuilt in 1891 to designs by David Thomson for Donald Graham, the chief partner in the firm of William Graham & Company, East India Merchants, of Glasgow. The interiors were fitted out with rich carved panelling, still in situ. He had purchased the estate in 1889, but died in January 1901 of erysipelas. After his death the house remained in his wife’s ownership,  but in 1924 the shipowner Charles Donaldson took a five-year lease of the estate. He died at the castle in December 1938.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Estate was acquired by the Ministry of Health as an Emergency Maternity Hospital administered by Stirling County Council, taking patients from Stirling and Clyde. It remained in the ownership of the Graham family until after the war, having been put up for sale in November 1944. With the foundation of the National Health Service the hospital passed to the Western Regional Health Board. A nurses’ home was built in 1953 to the south-east of the house. This L-shaped, two-storey, flat-roofed building appears to have survived and was in use as a surgery/health centre for the University in the 1980s. 

In 1965 arrangements were made for the transfer to the new University of Stirling of the Airthrey Castle Estate, although it remained in use as a maternity hospital until 1968-9. It was replaced by new maternity units in Paisley and Stirling. The castle was listed in 1973 category B.

sources: Edinburgh Evening News, 23 Jan 1901: Dundee Courier, 1 Jan 1924: Western Daily Press, 8 Dec 1938: Dundee Courier, 15 Jan 1940: Dundee Evening Telegraph, 21 Feb 1944: PP ‘Report of the Department of Health for Scotland…’ 1953 c.9107: PP ‘Scottish Home and Health Department Review of the Hospital Plan for Scotland’ 1966 c.2877: OS maps.

Further Reading: N. Reid,  ‘Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital 1939-1948’, and E. Rose ‘Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital 1948-1969’ in Report of Proceedings of the Society of the Scottish History of Medicine, 1988-9, pp.14-17

I have just come across a conservation plan for Stirling University by Simpson and Brown  which includes a history of the Castle and the landscaping, it can be accessed here.