Argyll and Bute

Extract from John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland 1832. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

ARGYLL AND BUTE HOSPITAL, LOCHGILPHEAD   Built as the Argyll District Asylum, it opened in 1863 and was the first district asylum to be built in Scotland following the 1857 Lunacy (Scotland) Act. It was designed by David Cousin of Edinburgh and set the pattern for the subsequent asylums built during the later 1860s and early 1870s.

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Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map surveyed in 1866 showing the district asylum on the right and the poorhouse, later used as a nurses’ home, to the left. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Historically this is an important hospital but its architectural appearance has been greatly marred by insensitive additions.  Its first medical superintendent was Dr J. Sibbald, who was later appointed as a Commissioner in Lunacy and was eventually knighted. In 1868 the hospital became the Argyll and Bute District Asylum, Bute having initially resisted providing for its pauper lunatics at the Argyll Asylum.


Argyll and Bute Hospital, photographed in 2010 © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A large new block was added by Peddie & Kinnear  c.1883. The second edition OS Map (below) shows the extent of the extensions to the main building and additional buildings on the site by the late 1890s.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map revised in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1971 a new thirty bed unit was opened by the Duchess of Kent.  It was still functioning as a psychiatric hospital in 2013 when it celebrated its 150th birthday. At that time it was claimed that it was the only remaining asylum in Scotland still in use.[Sources: Argyll Herald, 15 Sept. 1883: British Journal of Psychology, May 2015; Volume 206, Issue 5]

ARGYLL AND BUTE HOSPITAL NURSES’ HOME, LOCHGILPHEAD   This plain building was originally built as the Mid Argyll Poorhouse in 1856, before the adjacent site was acquired for the new asylum.

canmore_image_SC00733976Argyll and Bute Hospital, Nurses’ Home, view from the south, photographed in 2002 by RCAHMS

It was designed by a local architect, David Crow. It has more recently been converted into a nurses’ home for the Argyll and Bute Hospital. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30871/1-11;]

BRAEHOLM HOSPITAL, HELENSBURGH   Braeholm House is a typical nineteenth-century suburban villa without any great architectural pretension, although a drawing room bay was added by William Leiper in 1887.

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Braeholm is the second to the right of Adelaide Street Upper, with the large bay and serpentine path leading up to the entrance. Extract from the 25-inch OS map, revised in 1937. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was converted into a maternity hospital and an extension built to the rear. Later it was used for geriatric patients before the new unit was built at the Victoria Infirmary in Helensburgh. Braeholm closed in 1989. It is now a B&B (see

CALTON HOSPITAL, CAMPBELTOWN   Built as the Campbeltown and Kintyre District Combination Hospital for infectious diseases on the edge of the town, desirably placed near the slaughter house, gas works, a distillery and sand pit.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1914. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It opened in 1903 and was designed by H. E. Clifford. This small hospital was very plain and devoid of architectural interest, although Clifford is an important architect. It originally comprised one ward block, a nurses’ home and a wooden hut. The hut was later replaced by a stone built TB ward block. In 1973 a new maternity unit was built onto the former nurses’ home. The hospital closed in 1993, the buildings have now been demolished and housing built on the site (Dalriada Court).

CAMPBELTOWN COTTAGE HOSPITAL   The Campbeltown Cottage Hospital was designed in 1894 by J. J. Burnet. Burnet provided a simple, long low building with a ground floor and attic, very domestic in scale, at first glance like a row of cottages. It was built on land just west of the poorhouse.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Mrs MacKinnon of Ronachan and Dr John Cunningham were the prime movers in establishing the cottage hospital. It was built and equipped for around £4,000. The plans by J. J. Burnet were approved in May, 1894, and the hospital completed during the winter of 1896.

The Hospital was formally handed over to the trustees by Mrs MacKinnon on 19 November of that year. The contractors were Messrs A. & D. Hamilton, mason work; Mr Malcolm Martin, joiner work; Messrs R. Armour & Sons, plumbers; Mr Thomas Macpherson, plaster work; Mr Peter Macpherson, slater; Messrs Russell & Hall, decorating and upholstering, and Messrs James Kerr & Son, digging and gardening.

In 1909 Roentgen Rays and High Frequency Apparatus were installed, an early date for such equipment in a cottage hospital, and in 1911 X‑ray apparatus was gifted by Mr and Mrs Harold McCorquodale of Ongar, Essex. The building of the new operating room and X‑ray room began in 1914. The new wing was designed by H. E. Clifford. The hospital closed in 1993. [Sources: Argyll & Bute District Library, Dunoon, booklet, Campbeltown & District Cottage Hospital, History and Description, Dunoon, 1933: Campbeltown Courier, 21 Nov. 1896; 19 Dec. 1896 ]

COUNTY HOSPITAL, OBAN   Originally the Argyll County Sanatorium, built around Benvoulin House on Oban Hill, a modest stone‑built house. The sanatorium was established with funds given by Mr and Mrs Bullough of Fasnacloich and opened in 1909. Ward blocks were built in the grounds of Benvoulin House for the patients and the house used as staff and office accommodation. The hospital developed into a general acute unit as the need for TB treatment declined after the Second World War. It closed in 1995.

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Extract from the 6-inch OS map, revised in 1938. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


COWAL COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, DUNOON see under Dunoon General Hospital,  below

CRAIGARD MATERNITY HOME, CAMPBELTOWN   Like Struan Lodge at Dunoon, this large private house was used as an emergency maternity hospital by Kintyre District Committee, opening in 1942.


Craigard Hotel, Low Askomil, photographed in 2010 © Copyright Derek Tootill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

It is now a hotel, and according to the hotel’s website, the house was completed in 1882, and was the home of a local Whisky Distiller, William McKersie. He and his brother, owner of a rival distillery, vied with one another to create the finest house in Campbeltown. His next commission was Auchinlee, in High Askomil, on the road to Carradale designed by H. E. Clifford. Craigard House remained in the same family until 1942  when it was purchased by the local Council to become a Maternity Home.  It was used for this purpose until 1973. Following its closure the house was divided into two flats.  Then, having fallen into disrepair,  Craigard House was purchased at Auction in 1996, in a semi-derelict condition.  It was renovated and opened as a hotel in 1997, with just four rooms, and has since expanded

DALINTART HOSPITAL, OBAN (demolished) Built as the Lorn Combination Poorhouse it opened in 1862.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1897-8. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland. The poorhouse straddles four corners of four separate map tiles, hence the odd missing portion. 


Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 20.30.39Extract from the OS Town Plan of Oban, 1867. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was used as a barracks during the Boer War. The original building was starkly plain and typical of the most elementary poorhouses. It changed relatively little until after it was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948. After this, in 1968, a day hospital was opened and in 1972 a new 30‑bed unit was opened, built on the site of the former mortuary, chapel and laundry buildings. The hospital closed in 1995. (see also:

DEOCKER HOSPITAL HUT, ELLENABEICH, KILBRANDON   Erected by Lorn District Committee in 1895 but in the following year most of it was blown into the sea and lost during a gale.

DUNOON & DISTRICT GENERAL, SANDBANK ROAD   The hospital was built c.1968 incorporating as the nurses’ home the former cottage hospital, which was opened on 16 October 1908 by Princess Louise. The latter has been greatly altered and its original features have been swamped. It originally had a three‑bay, two‑storey centrepiece with single storey wings. A second storey has been added to the wings and a flat roof applied to the whole block. Although new windows have been put in, the original door has been retained to advantage, within the red sandstone doorpiece with carved over‑door.

geograph-3080871-by-Thomas-NugentCowal Community Hospital. Formerly Dunoon General Hospital. Photograph taken in 2012 © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

There was an even earlier cottage hospital in Dunoon which opened in 1885, on the corner of Alfred Street and King Street. By the 1960s this had become Clyde Cottage and was used as a children’s home. Later it became a day nursery.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 08.09.27Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1898, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


DUNOON CONVALESCENT HOME (demolished) Also known as the West of Scotland Convalescent Home, or Seaside Convalescent Home, and commonly just Dunoon Homes. The home opened in 1869 and was intended to serve the poor of Glasgow. Princess Louise became its patron in 1872.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 08.17.41Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1898, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

According to Groome’s Gazetteer the home was originally built as a hydropathic establishment, but the philanthropist Beatrice Clugston was instrumental in turning it into a convalescent home instead. Beatrice Clugston had earlier founded the Glasgow Convalescent Home at Bothwell (moved to Lenzie in 1871), and also founded the Broomhill Home for incurables at Kirkintilloch in 1876.

Postcard of the convalescent homes, Dunoon © H. Richardson

The Dunoon home had been built at a cost of £11,000, was fitted with ‘splendid baths’, and could accommodate 150 patients. A wing was added in 1880. (Sources: Francis Groome, Gazetteer of Scotland: Manchester Evening News, 6 Aug 1872, p.3: Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, 2006)

Finnartmore Auxiliary Hospital, Kilmun (closed in 1984)

GARTNATRA INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL, BOWMORE, ISLAY   Opened in 1904, this small isolation hospital was built by James MacFayden for the Islay District Committee. It had closed by 1958. As it appears on the 1897 OS map, perhaps the 1904 building replaced a temporary structure.

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Extract from the popular edition 1-inch OS map, published in 1926, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 21.36.15Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1897, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

GLENORCHY ISOLATION HOSPITAL, DALMALLY   Provided by the Lorn District Committee, the Glenorchy Isolation Hospital was one of the many small infectious diseases hospitals constructed by Speirs & Co. of Glasgow. It opened in 1898, and had closed by 1924.

HELENSBURGH INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL (Demolished)   The        Helensburgh Infectious Diseases Hospital opened c.1875, and was still in existence in 1948 when it was described as a two‑storey building dating from 1875 with a small ‘Speiresque’ pavilion.

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Extract from the 25-inch OS map revised in 1937. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The site was right next to the railway line, and not far from the Victoria Infirmary (see below). Its location next to the cemetery is not unusual for an infectious diseases hospital.

INVERARY ISOLATION HOSPITAL   Opened in 1893 it was built by Speirs & Co. of Glasgow. It was closed by 1933.

ISLAY COMBINATION POORHOUSE, BOWMORE (Demolished)   The Islay Poorhouse opened in 1865 and was designed by J. C. Walker of Edinburgh. Later it was renamed Gortanvogie House and was finally demolished to make way for the new Bowmore Hospital during the 1960s.

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Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1878, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

ISLAY HOSPITAL, BOWMORE   This hospital was built in the 1960s, opening c.1968. It was built on the site of the Islay Combination Poorhouse.

KILBRANDON ISOLATION HOSPITAL, CUAN FERRY   Lorn District Committee’s second attempt to provide an infectious diseases hospital was located in a converted church at Cuan Ferry. It opened in 1901 but had closed by 1932.

KILMUN HOMES INSTITUTION  Built in 1873 as a sea-side Convalescent Home to the north of Kilmun. to designs by Hugh Barclay working with his younger brother David Barclay.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1898, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was described as a ‘very plain structure built of whinstone rubble faced with freestone and brick, and consists of two wings and a centre, with an entire frontage of about 176 feet. The building will be two storeys in height, and in each of the wigs there will be sixteen bedrooms. In the centre portion, which is separated from the wings, will form the matron’s room and kitchen, and on the upper story a dining-hall and reading room. The cost is estimated at £2,500.”. The Building News  [Building News 13 June 1873, p688] It was extended in 1939 by  Ninian McWhannel. [ Architect & Building News, 1939.] Now called Kilmun Court, this white-painted, with half-timbered gables, presents quite a charming ensemble.  They have been converted into flats.

LARCHILL HOSPITAL, DUNOON (Closed 1891) Larchill Hospital opened in 1858 to accommodate fever patients and the casual sick poor.

MACKELVIE HOSPITAL, OBAN  (demolished)  The Mackelvie Hospital was opened on 18 October 1897 as an infectious diseases hospital. It was provided by Oban Town Council with money donated by Dr R. B. Mackelvie of Oban and comprised two simple linked blocks looking much like schoolrooms. In 1927 the Macpherson block was added and in 1956 part of the original hospital was converted into a nurses’ home.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


MID ARGYLL HOSPITAL, LOCHGILPHEAD   This small hospital was originally provided by the Mid‑Argyll District Committee for infectious diseases.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map revised in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The corrugated iron and timber blocks erected in 1897 by Speirs & Co. were re‑clad c.1950 to create a more permanent hospital. In 1962 a maternity unit was added and in 1978 the Duncan Geriatric Unit as opened.

OBAN MATERNITY HOSPITAL, Dalriach Road   Gleneuchar House, a substantial Victorian turreted and crow‑stepped villa, was purchased by the Western Regional Hospitals Board in 1954 and converted into a maternity hospital which opened in the following year.


Former Oban Maternity Hospital, photographed by RCAHMS in 1995

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Gleneuchar House is the one on the west side of Dalriach Road, just up from the junction with Craigard Road. The house is now called Greystones, and is a boutique B&B. Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

RAILWAY CONVALESCENT HOME, ROTHESAY, BUTE   Supposedly the only railway convalescent home in Scotland, it provided 34 beds for railway employees. It was maintained from voluntary subscriptions from the railway workers and was administered by them.

SALEN ISOLATION HOSPITAL, MULL   The hospital opened in 1893. It was built by Speirs & Co. of Glasgow. In 1900 an outbreak of smallpox prompted the Medical Officer of Health to visit the isolation hut only to find it occupied by an old man, a roadman and his wife, ‘who use one ward as a bedroom and the nurse’s room for storage of articles of food and crockery etc’. Some furniture was stored in the other ward and the closet at one end contained ‘a hen and her brood of chickens’. Owing to the want of any road to the hospital or ambulance carriage it was not felt possible to transfer the patient with smallpox from Aros Lodge to the hospital. To solve this problem ‘the Medical Officer of Health, Chief Sanitary Inspector and eight carpenters with necessary apparatus’ were sent over the Mull ‘so as to have the hut taken down and removed to Aros and re‑erected there with least possible delay’. However, this ingenious plan was stopped when a member of the Town Council decided that ‘the hospital was erected for the purpose of accommodating patients brought to it not for the purpose of being brought to the patient’.

The hospital suffered the same fate as the Deocker hospital hut being destroyed in a gale in 1927. A new isolation hospital was provided in a cottage at Torranlochan, nearby which opened in 1928. [Sources: Argyll District Archives, Lochgilphead, Town Council Minutes.]

STRUAN LODGE, DUNOON   Struan Lodge was opened as an emergency maternity hospital in 1940 by the Cowal District Committee. It is just north of the general hospital. It continued in use as a maternity hospital under the NHS into the 1960s, but by the mid-1970s it had become a residential care home and a large single-storey wing added to the east.


Part of Struan Lodge, on Bencorrum Brae, now a care home, photographed in 2012 © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Struan Lodge is to the right. Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map surveyed in 1897. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

TARBERT ISOLATION HOSPITAL, TARBERT   The isolation hospital at Tarbert opened in 1855. It was still functioning in 1892.

TIREE INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL   This small infectious diseases hospital was built by Speirs & Co. of Glasgow. It opened in 1905 and was closed in 1947.

TOBERMORY BURGH ISOLATION HOSPITAL, MULL   The isolation hospital at Tobermory opened in 1893. It was closed in 1938.

TOBERMORY COTTAGE HOSPITAL, MULL   The cottage hospital at Tobermory opened c.1892.

TOBERMORY UNION POORHOUSE, MULL   The poorhouse on Mull was designed in 1862 by David Cousin of Edinburgh. It was derelict in 1990. [SourcesScottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30877/1‑5.]

VICTORIA HOSPITAL, ROTHESAY, BUTE   The cottage hospital at Rothesay opened in 1897 and was designed by John R. Thomson. He produced a long low multi‑gabled facade of no great distinction. The hospital originated in the 1880s with a fund for nursing non‑infectious diseases in the Robertson Stewart Hospital (now Victoria Hospital Annexe, see below).

geograph-1491339-by-Jim-SmillieVictoria Hospital, Rothesay, photographed in 2009 © Copyright Jim Smillie and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A new wing was added in 1927 and a maternity department added in 1938. During the 1950s the 3rd Statistical Account commented on the shortage of beds which, despite the existence of a small operating theatre, meant that most major surgical operations were carried out on the mainland.

‘This removal of cases entails much movement for the patient, the conveying by ambulance to the steamer, the publicity and embarrassment of lying in the public saloon, the transference again to an ambulance, and then transport to a hospital in Greenock.’

VICTORIA HOSPITAL ANNEXE, ROTHESAY, BUTE   The present {1990} annexe to the Victoria Hospital at Rothesay was originally built as the Robertson Stewart Hospital for infectious diseases by Mathew Hunter. It opened in 1873 and was provided by Rothesay Town Council with money from Mr Stewart of Ascog Hall and his sons. It was given various additions including an ex‑army hut for a smallpox hospital in 1920.

VICTORIA INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL, DUNOON (Demolished)   The Victoria Infectious Diseases Hospital was originally opened as the Dunoon and Cowal District Combination Hospital on 2 February 1898.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1898, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was designed by Robert Bryden of Glasgow and consisted of three ward pavilions, an administration block and service blocks.

VICTORIA INFIRMARY, 93 East King Street, HELENSBURGH   The cottage hospital at Helensburgh was designed by William Leiper and opened on 27 September 1895.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1897. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It has a central, two‑storey block for administration with a high pitched roof and canted bays capped by bell‑shaped roofs. The Victoria Integrated Care Centre was built to the south. [Sources: The Builder, 5 Oct. 1895, p.244.]

WEST HIGHLAND COTTAGE HOSPITAL, OBAN (demolished)   The cottage hospital at Oban was founded by Mrs Agnes Parr of Killiechronan, Mull, in 1896. It was designed by G. Woulfe Brenan and could easily have been confused for a local villa.

Postcard of the West Highland Cottage Hospital, showing an event – perhaps the opening of the hospital, although the card was posted in 1926. © H. Richardson

Extensions were carried out in 1911 and 1934‑6, the latter by Lake Falconer. The hospital closed in 1995.[Sources: H. C. Burdett (ed.), Hospitals and Charities Year Book, 1925: Campbeltown Courier and Argyll Herald, 26 Sept. 1896.]

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1897-8. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


WITCHBURN HOUSE, CAMPBELTOWN   Witchburn House was built as a poorhouse by John Honeyman of Glasgow.

Witchburn House

Whitchburn House, photographed in the late 1980s. Even by my standards this is a pretty terrible photograph.

It opened in 1861. It is a very plain long building with three gabled blocks linked by low ranges. In 1866 a fever hospital was built in its grounds.

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Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1866. The detached block on the north side of the poorhouse may have been the fever hospital. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1941 part of the building was incorporated as an Emergency Hospital by the Department of Health. It was latterly developed as a hospital for long‑stay and geriatric patients. It closed in 1993 and was used as local council offices. [see also]

8 Responses to Argyll and Bute

  1. Christine Ferguson says:

    Front elevation photo of Struan Lodge Maternity hospital Dunoon 1950s anyone? Thank you.
    Christine Ferguson


  2. Anne Hibberd née Maclure says:

    I would love a photo of stream lodge in dunoon I was born there 2nd February 1941My father was in the Royal Navy. My home then was glen elg glen morag crescent. I have birth announcement cards announcing my birth at strung lodge.Wish I could contact someone who knew my family Maiden name was MACLURE


  3. Thank you Anne, I have found a picture of a part of Struan Lodge, which I have added to the page. You can see the building as it is now on google street view. It may be worth contacting Argyll & Bute Archives to see if they have a photograph. If I do come across anything I will let you know.


  4. Pingback: Argyll Colliery – Grand Dance and Challenge Match | The Road to Drumleman

  5. Les Horn says:

    Most interesting site.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. M White says:

    It was very interesting to see the Argyll & Bute Disrict Asylum. My grandfather’s aunt (Agnes Murray nee Taylor) died there in 1929. Her husband Daniel Sinclair Murray was found dead in Rothesay in 1904. I am attempting to trace children my grandfather’s cousins. Thanks.


  7. Pingback: West Highland Cottage Hospital in Oban | Historic Hospitals

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