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

for more on the history of hospitals in the Highlands see HistoryofHighlandsHospitals.com

BALLACHULISH INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL Established in a former house, built in 1885 and occupied by a quarry master. Later it was converted into MacMillan’s Temperance Hotel.

Former Ballachullish Hospital, photographed in May 2018 © H. Richardson

A handsome stone house, typical of its date of two and a half storeys, with a date stone over the arched entrance. The hotel was acquired in 1901 by the Lorn District Committee as a fever hospital, with two 2-bed wards. By 1927 its accommodation had been increased to 20 beds and a wooden shelter added with two beds.

Extract from the 6-inch OS map surveyed in 1899. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The hotel was acquired in 1901 by the Lorn District Committee as a fever hospital, with two 2-bed wards. By 1927 its accommodation had been increased to 20 beds and a wooden shelter added with two beds. It was transferred to the NHS in 1948, but its running costs were high and the accommodation out-dated. It closed in 1953, only to be re-opened following local protest. But this proved short-lived as it closed again two years later. The hospital was sold in 1955 and has since been converted into the Craiglinnhe Guest House. [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012]

BADENOCH AND STRATHSPEY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, AVIEMORE New hospital opened in May 2022. Oberlanders and Rural Design with Balfour Beatty PLC. Design and build contract. The hospital combines inpatient facilities, with 24 beds, with outpatient clinics and GP practice.

BELFORD HOSPITAL, FORT WILLIAM   The present building was opened in April 1965 and replaced an earlier hospital of the same name (see separate entry below).

Belford Hospital photographed in 2012, © Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

The Scottish Hospitals Survey Report published in 1948 recommended replacing the existing Belford Hospital by a new hospital on a new site to provide 40 general beds, a maternity unit of six beds and a children’s unit with six cots and a chronic sick block with ten beds. By 1950 a site was being sought, but progress was slow and the planning did not get underway until 1957. Work finally began in 1962 on the site of the convent of the Sisters of Charity and Notre Dame (the original Invernevis House).

Invernevis House, the site of the present Belford Hospital, from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The hospital was designed by Joseph Gleave (the architect of Vale of Leven Hospital, the first built under the NHS), who sadly died just a few months before the new Belford opened. The contractor was Arnott Macleod.

The Belford was officially opened by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon in April 1965. It provided thirty surgical and twelve medical beds together with ten maternity beds. In 1982 a new ward was added. A doctor’s house was built adjacent to the hospital. [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012]

BELFORD HOSPITAL (FORMER), FORT WILLIAM   The hospital was erected and endowed by Andrew Belford Esq. of Glenfintaig at a cost of £20,000, for the poor and labouring classes. The foundation stone was laid in 1863 and the hospital opened in 1865 with 30 beds.

Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The plans were drawn up by H. Burrell and comprised a simple two-storey building with attic and basement dressed up with classical details. Building stone came from the barracks of the Fort which were being dismantled at the time. The masons were Gray & Dick, Glasgow, plumbers, Wallace & Allan, also Glasgow, carpenter, Menzies of Oban. It followed a somewhat out-dated design. On the ground floor were the director’s room, doctor’s, house-keeper’s and servants’ apartments and on the first floor were the wards, including a fever ward, operating room and nurses apartments.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1899.  By this date an additional, detached fever block had been added to the site, but its surroundings were not so salubrious, with the distillery and a slaughter house for neighbours. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Although originally the hospital was supposed to have 30 beds, this may have been too cramped as the number was reduced, first to 18 (by the 1880s) then 12 (by 1908).  In 1893 the trustees of the hospital and the local authority erected a prefabricated hospital in the grounds for fever patients, replacing the wards within the hospital. It was purchased from Humphreys of Knightsbridge. The timber and iron building burnt down in October 1900. It was replaced by a less impermanent structure, designed by James Falconer of Blairgowrie and built in 1901 of composite bricks, with a slate roof. The contractors were Donald Fraser, slater; Robert Harper, plumber and Donald McColl, mason, all of Fort William. The plans did not follow Local Government Board models, though it was designed on much the same principles with pairs of wards either side of a nurse’s room with inspection windows to oversee the patients. Despite its many defects the hospital remained open, if fitfully used, until 1936. It was pressed into service during the Second World War as a first-aid post and wartime emergency centre. Hopes to turn it into a maternity unit were squashed when dry rot was discovered and the building was demolished in 1953.

South elevation of the former Belford Hospital, photographed in 1964 © Crown Copyright: HES

The main hospital had been extended in 1928, funded by Balfour Beattie, increasing its capacity but not by very much, just six beds. Plans for a more radical reconstruction were under discussion and plans drawn up by the Scottish Board of Health’s chief architect approved in 1929. Alexander Grant, of Inverness, was the executant architect/engineer. The works were carried out between 1930 and 1933, and provided two 7-bed male wards, three female wards with a total of 8 beds, and a 3-bed ‘outdoor ward’ for casualties.

By the outbreak of the Second World War the main hospital  had become hopelessly inadequate and the 1948 Scottish Hospitals Survey Report recommended its replacement on a new site. This was accomplished when the present hospital opened in 1965 (see above). The original hospital was purchased by Inverness County council and demolished to make way for Invernevis House, a home for the elderly. [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012]

BELHAVEN HOME (Belhaven Wing, Belford Hospital), BELFORD ROAD, FORT WILLIAM  A local poorhouse was built near Belford Hospital just south of the slaughter house. It opened in 1927 and had accommodation for 9 residents and was named Belhaven Home after renovations in 1958.

Belhaven Home is the building opposite King George’s Field, marked as an open rectangle, shown on the six-inch OS map revised in 1959. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was demolished in about 1982 to make way for a new geriatric unit – Belford Hospital, Belhaven Wing – which opened in 1983 with 29 beds. A low-slung single-storey building with shallow-pitched roof, it sits apologetically behind a hedge. A Lidl supermarket has replaced the slaughterhouse. In-patient facilities were withdrawn in 2010, but the facility was retained for another couple of years as an out-patient physiotherapy and occupational therapy unit. [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012]

BIGNOLD HOSPITAL, WICK   The Bignold Hospital opened in 1903 in the former Northcote House, an average later-nineteenth century villa. The conversion into a hospital was carried out by W. L. Carruthers and a new wing added. The hospital was provided for the town by Mr Bignold, M.P. for the Northern Counties, who purchased Northcote House for £1,850. When it opened it provided three wards: one of six beds for male patients, one of three beds for female patients and one private ward.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1905. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

During the Second World War the hospital was taken over by the RAF and the patients transferred to Lybster School. After the War it reverted to civilian use and was transferred to the National Health Service. It finally closed in 1986 following the completion of the new Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

BLACK ISLE POORHOUSE, FORTROSE   The plans for the poorhouse at Fortrose were drawn up in 1859 by William Lawrie for James Matthews of Aberdeen and Inverness. It is stylistically similar to the firm’s other poorhouse designs for Inverness, Bonar Bridge and Nairn, although on a smaller scale, being built for just fifty paupers.

Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland. 

By the outbreak of the Second World War it had changed its name to Ness House and already there were plans for it to close and to transfer the remaining inmates to Tain. The building has now been converted for domestic use. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30852/1-11: see also workhouses.org]

CAITHNESS GENERAL HOSPITAL, WICK   The Caithness General Hospital opened in 1986. The design team was headed by Baxter, Clark & Paul. It is mostly of three storeys built from beige tinted concrete with grey‑blue pitched roof. Commissioned in 1972 and commenced in 1983, it was built on the site of the former Rosebank House which became the Henderson Memorial Hospital (see below).

CAMBUSAVIE HOSPITAL, THE MOUND, SUTHERLAND   The hospital opened in 1906 and was designed by Speirs & Co. of Glasgow. It was probably the best remaining example of its type in Scotland and a rare survival of this, once common, type of temporary hospital from the turn of the century. It was built by the County Council of Sutherland on a site gifted by Mr Carnegie of Skibo. After dismissing various plans for a stone‑built hospital as being too expensive, the Medical Officer of Health recommended that a wood and iron building would be suitable.

Extract from the 3rd edition, 1-inch OS map, 1912, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Speirs & Co. submitted designs and specifications of an infectious diseases hospital for eight patients in two pavilions of four beds each with an administration block which they offered to erect for £998 with an outhouse block for £149. They were 2 appointed in May 1906 and the buildings were in place by the beginning of September. The Hospital expanded over the years with further wood and iron blocks. It closed in 1986. [Sources: Inverness Local History Library, Sutherland County Council Minutes.]

COUNTY HOSPITAL, INVERGORDON, Ross & Cromarty   The hospital at Invergordon opened in 1917 as a Naval hospital for war wounded. It was designed by G. H. M. Trew, civil engineer and officer in the Royal Navy. It was constructed of concrete due to the shortage of wood and corrugated iron. There were docking and dockyard facilities, piers and oil fuel depots near the site.

Extract from the 2nd edition, 6-inch OS map, revised in 1946, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

At the time that the Navy built the hospital it was thought that the site would remain as a temporary base for the various squadrons and flotillas carrying out exercises and gunnery in the northern waters and so they made an effort to render the hospital workable in peace time.

Remarkable photograph taken of the hospital under construction when snow stopped work, from RCAHMS photograph collection

However, the Navy decided to dispose of the hospital in 1920 and it was acquired by Ross and Cromarty County Council as an infectious diseases hospital. It then consisted of ten plain ward pavilions, each separate. In construction and plan it foreshadows the Emergency Medical Scheme hospitals of the Second World War.

County Community Hospital, Invergorden, photographed in 2014 © Copyright Alpin Stewart and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The original hospital buildings were replaced by a new community hospital, which occupies a part of the site and was opened in 2005.

CRAIG DUNAIN HOSPITAL, INVERNESS   The hospital opened as the Inverness District Asylum in 1864. It was designed by James Matthews of Aberdeen who also established an office in Inverness. The imposing main building is mostly of three storeys, its great length broken up by gabled bays and, at the centre, bold twin square towers.

Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson
Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

As early as 1836 attempts were made to set up a lunatic asylum in Inverness. In that year the management Committee of the Royal Northern Infirmary recommended a separate establishment for the mentally ill, recognising the unsuitability of housing such patients in the infirmary. In 1843 a committee was established to promote the erection of a lunatic asylum at Inverness for the Northern Counties and in 1845 the movement gained Royal favour and would have produced the eighth Royal Asylum in Scotland. £4,500 was raised but this was not sufficient to build and endow such a hospital.

Craig Dunain Hospital, AeroPictorial Ltd photograph from 1952

After the Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1857 the scheme was proposed once more, this time by the District Lunacy Board. In 1859 the Board purchased the site, 180 acres on the hillside above Inverness, and a restricted competition was held for the architect. Designs were invited from James Matthews, who secured the commission, Peddie and Kinnear of Edinburgh and a York architect F. Jones.

Extract from the first-edition OS map surveyed in 1868. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The building was opened in May 1864 and was the third District Asylum in Scotland, being preceded by the District Asylums of Argyll and Bute at Lochgilphead, and Perth at Murthly.

Detail of the above extract from the first-edition OS map surveyed in 1868. Turned round to show the main range of the former asylum in greater detail. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The hospital was built on a magnificent raised site to the standard scale and plan at this date. It is a palatial building, three storeys high, designed on the corridor‑plan, housing patients largely in single rooms. There was the usual central kitchen and dining‑hall and the whole complex was symmetrical with a basic division of females to one side and males to the other. The hospital claimed to be one of the first to remove its airing courts in 1874. This progressive act was somewhat belittled by the constant complaints of the Commissioners in Lunacy, when they inspected the hospital, of the lack of warmth in the buildings and the poor diet of the patients.

The ‘New Main Entrance’ corridor c.1902, © RCAHMS

Overcrowding had soon become a problem and additions were eventually made in 1898 to the designs of Ross and Macbeth for male and female hospital wards which were constructed at each end of the building. In the 1920s and 30s the hospital expanded further.

Interior of the recreation hall, built in 1927. Photographed in 2000 © RCAHMS

In 1927 a large new recreation hall was provided, designed to blend in with the original building but constructed from pre‑cast concrete as well as red sandstone rubble, instead of the dressed stone used on the original buildings. The hall was large enough to take 400 patients and staff, and could be used as a theatre, cinema or dance hall as well as less formal gatherings. The projecting bay on the photograph below contained a small kitchen.

In 1936 a new nurses’ home was built in a chunky manner with Baronial traces. It was deliberately constructed from materials which would blend in with the principal block. It provided accommodation for 100 nursing and domestic staff. Two isolation blocks were built around the same time for TB and Typhoid.

The church, Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed in 2000. © RCAHMS

The last major building scheme was the construction of a chapel which was dedicated in 1963. It was designed by W. W. Mitchell of Alexander Ross & Son and is very simple in style to accommodate 300 people. It owes its origin to plain seventeenth‑ and eighteenth‑century kirks, indeed its birdcage bellcote could have come from such a building. However, this church was intended to be interdenominational.[Sources: The Builder, 6 Aug. 1859, p.527: Architect & Building News, 8 April 1932, p.56: Highland Health Board Archives, Booklet on hospital. ]

Former Craig Dunain Hospital photographed in 2016 during redevelopment of the site. © Copyright Jim Barton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
 Former Craig Dunain Hospital, during redevelopment in 2010. © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

CRAIG PHADRIG HOSPITAL, INVERNESS   Situated adjacent to Craig Dunain, Craig Phadrig was officially opened in 1970 for mentally handicapped patients. The buildings were of brick and concrete with flat roofs. Those on the brow of the hill were of two‑storeys or more, but the residential blocks were single storey and built into the hillside to preserve the dramatic view down to Inverness and the Moray Firth.

Patient villas at Craig Phadrig, photographed in 2000. © Crown Copyright: HES

Plans for such a hospital had been mooted in the 1930s, but the outbreak of the Second World War put plans on hold, and it was not until the 1960s that the scheme was brought forward again. Plans for the new institution was drawn up by the Edinburgh firm of architects Alison and Hutchison, Harry Horace MacDonald was the partner in charge. The  building contractor was Alexander Hall. Work commenced in 1965.

The hospital buildings were nestled in the landscape. Photographed in 2000. © Crown Copyright: HES
The design here references nineteenth-century workshops with their distinctive clerestorey windows. © Crown Copyright: HES

Accommodation for the patients was in single-storey villas for 25 or 26, sleeping in four or six-bed dormitories, and with a shared kitchen. The villas were linked by covered walkways. An outpatients department, physiotherapy department, assembly hall, and school were provided.

When the hospital closed in 2000, it was earmarked for demolition, even though the buildings were only 30-years old. © Crown Copyright: HES

Changing attitudes and policy towards people with additional support needs meant that the hospital was soon behind the times and either care in the community, or special schools established for most cases. Craig Phadraig closed in 2000 when New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital opened.

CROMARTY COTTAGE HOSPITAL, Ross & Cromarty   The Cottage Hospital at Cromarty opened in 1894. The final plans were prepared by A. Maitland & Sons and were adapted from plans by Mr. Butler of Dublin, according to the Hospital Committee Minutes. In 1891 the Cottage Hospital Committee was first appointed to provide a District Nurse and consider the practicality of providing a sick home. Encouraged by donations and the gift of a site from Captain Ross of Cromarty several plans were put forward for the hospital.

The Hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 but was closed in 1953. The building has since been converted into private housing. [Sources: Highland Health Board Archives, Annual Reports. ]

CULDUTHEL HOSPITAL, INVERNESS   Culduthel House was built c.1780‑90. A modest Georgian building of two storeys and attic. The Hospital opened in 1917. The house was purchased by Inverness Town Council in 1914 and plans drawn up for its conversion and for ward blocks in the grounds, by the burgh surveyor, T. H. Scott, in consultation with John Wilson, the Edinburgh architect to the Local Government Board.

Prior to the completion of Culduthel Hospital, the infectious diseases cases had been treated at the Royal Northern Infirmary but the managers had long been agitating to have a new hospital built for this purpose. Further ward blocks were added in the 1930s. The hospital closed in 1989. [Sources: Architect & Building News, 14 Nov. 1930, p.670; 25 March 1932, p.408: Inverness Local History Library, Inverness Town Council Minutes. ]

DONALDSON MEMORIAL NURSING HOME, WICK, CAITHNESS   (Highland Health Board Offices) This small nursing home was opened in c.1904. It was founded by Miss Donaldson of Melbourne Cottage, Thrumbster, as a memorial to her brothers Mr Robert and Mr John Donaldson. It is an attractive white‑harled, two‑storey building of domestic character.

DUNAIN HOUSE, INVERNESS   Dunain House opened as an annexe to Craig Dunain Hospital in 1956 (see above). At the core of Dunain House, and plainly visible from the approach, is an eighteenth century house of two storeys and basement and five bays long, reminiscent of others in the area. In 1872 the house was extended to the north with an asymmetrical Jacobean style wing. A large round‑arched castellated porte‑cochere formed the new entrance to the rear.

In about 1947 Craig Dunain hospital took the lease of Dunain House with the intention of converting it into a male nurses’ home, but as demand for this type of accommodation decreased the house was reconstructed to form a 27‑bed unit for patients with mild mental and nervous illness.

DUNBAR HOSPITAL, THURSO   Dunbar Hospital opened in 1885. It is stone‑built in the Baronial style. The imposing central block is of two storeys with an over‑sized entrance tower at the centre bearing bartizans and a round‑ arched doorway with rope‑moulding terminated in knots. This is flanked by single storey ranges with a later white‑harled, flat‑roofed ward block to the left. Mr Alexander Dunbar, of Scrabster, died in 1859 leaving £10,000 which was to be allowed to accumulate interest for 21 years and then used to build and maintain an almshouse for twelve aged persons and a general hospital. Six cottages were built and the Dunbar Hospital. The Medical Officer of Health for Thurso and Reay in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the Relief of Distress, published in 1909, criticised the Hospital as having been planned on too elaborate a scale and still being incomplete, with two wards for six or eight patients each and several small rooms capable of taking two patients each and an administration block sufficient for a hospital with 100 beds. The admission procedure was too complex and resulted in the patients admitted ‘not likely to benefit from hospital treatment’. There were at that time four cases, one man having been resident nineteen years. He went in suffering from ulcerated legs, ‘and has, practically from the first, acted as light porter to the institution’.

Looking mean and moody, my terrible snap of Dunbar Hospital, taken in about 1990, ©Harriet Richardson

The Town Council had approached the trustees in 1897 and the Parish Council in 1900, in an attempt to have more use made of the Hospital but without success. By the outbreak of the Second World War it had become a 36‑bed general hospital including children’s wards and maternity. A new maternity wing was added in 1960 and a physiotherapy department added in 1970. [Sources: J. T. Calder, History of Caithness, 2nd ed. 1887, p.363: Aberdeen Journal, 23 January 1882, p.4.]

EASTER ROSS POORHOUSE, TAIN, ROSS & CROMARTY   The Easter Ross Poorhouse opened in 1850 and was designed in a very sparing manner by Andrew Maitland of Tain, who ‘drew out the whole of the plans and specifications himself’. Built to accommodate one hundred and seventy‑nine inmates, it was designed to be a model of economy and efficiency rather than following the model plan promoted by the Board of Supervision. In 1851 the Chairman of the Board of Management of the Poorhouse, Henry Dunning Macleod, published a lengthy letter addressed to the Editor of the Inverness Courier which outlined the ‘Poorhouse System in Easter Ross’.

The Poorhouse had changed its name to Arthurville House by the Second World War and was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948. By 1988 it had closed and been partly demolished and remodelled as private housing. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30911/1‑13: Inverness Courier, 30 May, 1850: with thanks to Hamish J Mackenzie for corrections to the original entry for this building. For further information see workhouses.org]

GAIRLOCH POORHOUSE   The Poorhouse opened in 1894 and had closed by 1948. [Sources: Medical Officer for Health, Annual Report, 1894.] 

GENERAL POPE HOSPITAL, HELMSDALE, SUTHERLAND   This small brick‑built maternity hospital opened in 1935.

The former General Pope Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

Major General George Pope of Navidale Cottage died in 1885 leaving funds for the erection and maintenance of a small medical dispensary and hospital for the people of the parish. This was not built until the 1930s when a popular small maternity hospital with just four beds was provided. It finally closed in 1977 and was converted into a private house.

GESTO HOSPITAL, EDINBANE, SKYE The hospital was begun in 1872, though it did not open until 1878. It is a simple, white‑harled, domestic looking building. An old photograph from the 1920s show that the harling was not original, but had exposed stonework laid in regular courses with cherry-caulking (or cherry-cocking), smaller stones laid in the mortar between the large blocks creating a decorative pattern.

Extract from the 1st-edition OS map surveyed in 1875. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

This was the first hospital to be founded on Skye, when Kenneth Macleod of Greshornish died in 1869 leaving £16,000 to set up a ‘hospital or charitable institution at Idenbane [sic], for the purposes of affording medical treatment and relief to the people of Skye, to be called the Gesto Hospital’. It was to be free to all with preference for the tenants of his estates of Greshornish and Orbost who were also entitled to free medical attention in their own homes. Macleod also founded Edinbane village, providing an inn, mill and a school. The wording of Macleod’s will suggests that the hospital was not purpose built, but that an existing building may have been adapted.

Gesto Hospital photographed in 2001.  The hospital was founded in 1869 because of the wish of Kenneth Macleod, who had made his fortune as a tea planter in India. © Copyright Carol Walker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

When it first opened it had just 12 beds and there was a doctor’s house adjacent to the hospital. By about 1900 a single-storey range had been added to the rear and the doctor’s house had been extended, but ten years later improvements were required, the sanitation was defective and the doctor’s house was in need of refurbishment. There were just ten beds in the two wards. In 1927 electricity and an X-ray machine were installed. The hospital was transferred to the NHS in 1948, and when the resident doctor retired in 1953 the doctor’s house was converted into accommodation for the matron and nurses and a link building erected to the hospital which created space for a day room for the patients and an operating theatre. a further extension was built in 1976 to provide a new ward and day room. By that time the hospital had become primarily a geriatric unit.

Plans to close the hospital in the early 1990s were abandoned in the face of local opposition, but fifteen years later times had changed and in 2006 services were transferred to the extended Portree Hospital. The Gesto closed in 2007. It remained empty in 2011. [Sources: J.C. and S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye, 2011: British Medical Journal, 1, 4 May 1872, p.484, 6 April 1878, 25 March 1911: A. Nicolson, History of Skye, Glasgow, 1930, p.353.]

GLENCOE HOSPITAL Glencoe House was built in 1896 for Donald Alexander Smith, later Lord Strathcona, by R. Rowand Anderson, one of the major Scottish architects of the nineteenth century. Set at the head of Loch Leven in extensive garden grounds, the house was designed in a severe Scottish seventeenth‑century style. Two wings of the house were demolished in 1965. The remaining building is of three storeys plus attic, in grey stone with contrasting red sandstone dressings. Inside most of the rich interior is preserved including fine plaster ceilings, fireplaces and wood panelling. Lord Strathcona gained his Earldom in 1897 for his part in founding the Canadian Pacific Railway with the similarly newly created Lord Mount Stephen. The house was first used as a hospital during the Second World War when it became a convalescent home. It was then reputedly sold to the village for £4,000 by Lord Strathcona’s sister. By 1952 it was in use as a maternity hospital and by 1985 had become a geriatric hospital.

Glengarry Cottage Hospital, Invergarry (See under Invergarry Cottage Hospital)

Halkirk Poorhouse (See under Thurso Combination Poorhouse.)

HENDERSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, WICK (Demolished) The Henderson Memorial Hospital opened in 1931. It was located in a converted domestic house. Miss Adelaine Florence Henderson bequeathed Rosebank House and grounds to Wick Nursing Association in 1927. The house was extensively altered and extended to be fitted for a convalescent and maternity home. The conversion was carried out by the local architect Sinclair Macdonald. A new butterfly plan wing was added c.1960. The house was demolished to make way for phase two of the new Caithness General Hospital in the 1980s.

HILTON HOSPITAL, INVERNESS   The ironically named Hilton Hospital, now used as office accommodation for the Health Board, was originally built as Inverness Poorhouse in c.1859‑60. It was designed by William Lawrie, of the local firm, Matthews & Lawrie. It is white harled, largely two storeys with attics and the front elevation distinguished by its four gabled bays. The firm also built both the Black Isle Poorhouse and Nairn Poorhouse and, from the close stylistic similarity, the former Sutherland Poorhouse, (now Migdale Hospital).

By 1948 Inverness Poorhouse had changed its name to the Muirfield Institution and Hospital and contained accommodation for certified mental patients, chronic sick and maternity cases as well as other classes of the poor. It closed as a hospital in 1987. Various unsympathetic alterations including box dormers and a new entrance detract from the architectural value of the building. [Sources: The Builder, 2 April 1859, p.241.]

IAN CHARLES HOSPITAL, GRANTOWN‑ON‑SPEY   This cottage hospital opened in 1885, having been founded by Ian Charles, 8th Earl of Seafield. He had intended to provide the hospital for the benefit of the people of his estate but died before it was finished. It was completed and endowed by his mother as a memorial to him. A maternity wing was added in 1921 and the hospital was further extended in the 1950s. Whilst the hospital has local historic interest there is little architectural interest in the buildings. [Sources: British Medical Journal, 30 May 1885, p.1120.]

IDA MERRY MATERNITY HOME, INVERNESS   The Ida Merry Maternity Home opened in the domestic house which is now the Craigmonie Hotel on 3 September 1931. It had previously existed in Church Street. It was not transferred to the National Health Service in 1948.

INVERGARRY COTTAGE HOSPITAL, INVERNESS‑SHIRE   The cottage hospital at Invergarry is now Tigh‑Mhonaidh house which is dated 1880.

Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1871. Reproduced by the National Library of Scotland

It started out as a private house, Aldernaig, built in 1866 and designed by John Rhind of Inverness. Edward Ellice of Invergarry established an annual fund for the benefit of the people of the parish and his wife used the funds to extend the house and convert it into a hospital in 1880. Edward Ellice senior made his fortune in the Hudson Bay Company, and the family built much of Invergarry village as well as the family home, Invergarry House (now Glengarry Castle Hotel), designed by David Bryce in 1866.

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

The lack of a local doctor seems to have made the building all but redundant from the off. It provided a home for the local nurse, but never seems to have accommodated any patients. It was not taken over by the NHS and closed around 1948-50 and was sold to the Hydro-Electric Board. [Sources: National Library of Scotland, Ellice Papers, 15111/15112: [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012.]

INVERNESS‑SHIRE SANATORIUM, INVERGARRY   The Inverness‑shire Sanatorium opened in 1907. It was also known as the Aberchalder Sanatorium and the Bridge of Oich Sanatorium.

The sanatorium is marked on the OS 1-inch, 7th series map, published in 1961. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The driving force behind setting up a sanatorium here was Margaret Fraser of Lovat, sister of Lord Lovat, and it was claimed as the first to be established in Scotland by public subscription. Admission was not free, however, patients paying according to their menas, but it was aimed at poorer rural patients and treatment for many was not charged for. The building was designed by the Lovat’s estate architect, a Mr Dewar.

The 1948 Scottish Hospitals Survey Report described it as a single‑storey building of wood and corrugated iron with 26 beds. The Sanatorium was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948, but the decision to close it taken almost immediately after transfer. This it did in 1951, the last three patients being moved to Culduthel Hospital in Inverness. The buildings were demolished in 1958-9, though the foundations remained visible in 2008. [Sources: J.C. & S. J. Leslie, History of Highland Hospitals The Hospitals of Lochaber… 2012]

JOHN MARTIN HOSPITAL, UIG, SKYE   The Cottage Hospital opened in 1907, established as a memorial to John Martin of Treaslane. When he died in 1898 he left £500 to his sister, along with a number of other small bequests, and appointed trustees to establish a hospital for the sick poor and crofters at Uig.  He stipulated that  £1,200 should be used to build the  hospital and medical officer’s house, while the residue of his estate should go towards its upkeep, this amounted to around £12,000. Martin’s sister died in 1900, and the funds were allowed to accrue before the hospital was built. The site was selected in 1902 and work began in 1904 to designs by James A. H. Mackenzie of Portree.

Extract from the OS one inch 7th series map, 1955-61. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The original building was of a single storey, with a central entrance with a gable over bearing a commemorative plaque. The wards were at each end, with canted bay windows facing south. A photograph from around 1920 shows the building with a group of figures a the front door and a gentleman sitting in front of one of the wards. On the roof ridge are the distinctive ventilation flues with their conical caps – perhaps Boyle’s patent air-pump ventilator ‘the cheapest on the market’ according to their advertising. A small maternity annex was added to the south in 1936-7, built to designs by J. & W. Wittet  of Elgin, which provided just  two beds, a labour room and dispensary.

SYHA Youth Hostel in Uig, photographed in 2006, the partially rebuilt and remodelled former John Martin Hospital.  © Copyright Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The last admission was at Christmas 1964 and it closed in 1965 and was later taken over by the Youth Hostel Association. The hospital was remodelled outside and in, and partly (possibly largely) rebuilt. It closed as a youth hostel in about 2013 and was sold. [Sources: J. C. and S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye, 2011: Lancet, 6 April 1907, p.979: Scotsman, 8 July 1936: NHS Highland Archives HHB24. With grateful thanks to Steve Martin of Canberra, Australia, for sending me a copy of John Martin’s will.]

LATHERON POORHOUSE, CAITHNESS  (demolished)  The plans for the Poorhouse at Latheron date from 1854 by William Lambie Moffatt of Edinburgh. It was built for 50 paupers. It was, like Thurso Poorhouse, under‑used, and at the turn of the century the number of attendants all but out‑numbered the paupers.

25 inch OS Map surveyed in 1871, from the National Library of Scotland (© CC-BY (NLS) The building was west of the A9, north of Latheron.

Around 1922 its name was changed to the Caithness Town and County Home. The Scottish Hospitals Survey Report undertaken around 1946 noted that it provided some accommodation for the chronic sick and maternity cases. It was of poor quality and in 1947 the residents were transferred to nearby Forse House, which had been used by the RAF during the Second World War. The poorhouse was dismantled shortly afterwards and the stonework used to construct housing in Latheron Lane, Ullapool. Forse House continued as a residential home until 1972, when residents were transferred to Wick. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30853/1‑15: information kindly supplied by J. Leslie.]

LAWSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, GOLSPIE   The Lawson Memorial Hospital was built in 1899 to designs by John H. Gall.

Extract of the 2nd edition OS map, revised 1904. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The main front is symmetrical with a taller central gabled bay. The stugged grey granite is enlivened with bold long and short ashlar quoins and margins. The doorway is surmounted by a broken, segmental pediment on brackets. The large ward windows break into the roof with forceful dormer heads. A plaque over the entrance to the original block declares that the hospital was erected and endowed by A. B. Lawson Esq. for the relief of human suffering in memory of his parents and brother.

Lawson Memorial Hospital, photographed around 1989 © H. Richardson

In 1935 the Cambusmore Wing was added designed by the local architects Horne and Murray. This doubled the accommodation. Further extensions to the rear were made in the 1970s. In 1988 a new standard plan ward block was begun to the north which opened in September 1989.

MACKINNON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, BROADFORD, SKYE   The hospital originally opened in 1914. It was founded as a memorial to the Reverend Donald Mackinnon, Minister of the parish, who died in 1888. The present hospital largely dates from 1963.

Dr. MacKinnon Memorial Hospital, Broadford, photographed in 2008. One of two hospitals on Skye, the other being in Portree. The hospital offers a wide range of services. The building is dated 1963. © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Dr Mackinnon was still preaching when he was 70, two sermons every Sunday, one in Gaelic and one in English. With admirable diversity, he had been chair of the local school board, a road contractor, a judge of cattle and breeder of setters. After he died the local residents agreed to build a cottage hospital as a memorial to him and quickly raised over £300. Fund raising continued and a site sought. The site was decided upon in May 1910, and plans prepared by James Mackenzie. These were rejected in favour of plans by Young & Hall of London on the recommendation of Henry Burdett. These model plans were executed by the Inverness architects, W. L. Carruthers & Alexander with construction taking place in 1912-13. The mason was John Macleod of Broadford and the painter John Fraser, from Kyle of Lochalsh. A lack of funds delayed the opening of the hospital to September 1914.

Extract from the OS 1-inch 7 series map, surveyed in 1955. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Originally the hospital had two three-bed wards, and priority was given to patients from Strath and Sleat. As with most cottage hospitals, patients paid towards their maintenance, according to their means. Any pauper patients were chargeable to the parish. In 1946 there was accommodation for 8 patients and there was a small operating theatre. Extensions were made in the 1950s, and in 1961 work began on a more substantial renovation and extension. When it re-opened in 1963 it had 20 beds for general cases and 4 maternity beds, reception, A&E and an out-patients’ clinic. [Sources: J. C. & S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye, 2011]

MEADOWSIDE HOSPITAL, KINCRAIG, INVERNESS‑SHIRE The hospital was built by a local architect, Alexander Cattanach, and was opened in November 1906. The Medical Officer for Health’s Report for that year described the benefits of the hospital

The site is an ideal one, and is about the centre of the district. It is well away from the nearest inhabited house, has a good water supply and excellent drainage arrangements, with a septic tank, which discharges into a large bed of gravel. The disinfector is Thresh’s, with ‘infected and disinfected’ rooms, quite cut off from each other. The accommodation is for 12 patients, and the cubic space for each is about 2036 cubic feet.

In addition to the recommendations of the Medical Officer for Health, the Report printed the architect’s description of the building, together with a plan and elevation:

The walls are of stone and lime, the rooms are bright and airy, and the painting is both tasteful and pleasing to the eye. In the centre of the range of buildings is a double block for administrative offices, containing matron’s and doctor’s rooms, and five bedrooms, with kitchen, cloak‑room, lavatory and other offices. There are four wards ‑ two at each end of the building ‑ and they are connected to the administrative block by spacious corridors. The wards at each end are for male and female, with a nurse’s duty room between… The out buildings consist of disinfecting chamber, wash‑house, laundry, ambulance, shed, coal house, stable, mortuary, etc.

Meadowside Hospital is typical of the many small infectious diseases hospitals built around the turn of the century. It is now {1989} rare to find an example of this type so well preserved and unaltered, particularly as regards the link corridors and the original glazing. The ventilation towers have been removed from the link corridors and the sanitary annexes.

By 1937 it had been disused for some years but was kept on a care and maintenance basis. The hospital has now been converted into holiday accommodation, described as comprising 12 traditional stone-built cottages. It looks as though the link corridors have been removed. [Sources: Medical Officer for Health, Report for Inverness County, 1906]

MIGDALE HOSPITAL, BONAR BRIDGE, SUTHERLAND   Built as the Sutherland Combination Poorhouse probably c.1863, the close stylistic similarity of the Migdale Hospital with the former Inverness Poorhouse (later Hilton Hospital), suggests that the same architects, Matthews & Lawrie, were responsible for the design, however, this is not the case and the architect was Andrew Maitland, who also designed the earlier poorhouse at Tain. (An invitation to tender in the Inverness Courier of 2nd July, 1863 says that plans and specifications may be seen with Mr Maitland, architect, Tain, between 5th and 24th July.)

Migdale Hospital photographed around 1989 © H. Richardson

By 1948 it had changed its name to the Sworedale Institution and was described in that year by the Scottish Hospitals Survey as ‘the best of present poor law institutions’. It was built to accommodate 114 paupers.

Migdale Hospital photographed around 1989 © H. Richardson

(There are some super photographs by J. M. Briscoe, taken in 2013, on Flickr.) The hospital closed in 2011 and was put up for sale. It was replaced by a new hospital built at a cost of more than £8 million, providing 22 beds  Austin Smith Lord architects, with Robertson Dawn Health and Robertson Construction Highland). Staff and patients moved into the new building on June 30th 2011, which is located in the centre of the village, close to the GP surgery and a day centre for older people. [Sources: see history links archive ; Austin Smith Lord and healthier places : see also workhouses.org.uk for further information. With thanks to Hamish J. Mackenzie for corrections to the original entry for this building.]

NAIRN HOSPITAL, LODGEHILL ROAD This was the precursor of the Town and County Hospital. Now a private house (Craig Royston), the Nairn Hospital was designed by Thomas Mackenzie and was originally intended for fever cases. Building work began in 1846, the plans having been drawn up some two years earlier when the scheme was first mooted and the site purchased, but progress was slow.

Extract of the OS Town Plan of Nairn, 1867-8. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The design was met with enthusiasm in the local press, where it was described as ‘beautiful and appropriate’. (The hospital was just down the road from Millbank House, in Cawdor Street, for which Mackenzie with his partner James Matthews, designed additions in 1846.)  A ball was held in Anderson’s Hall in September to raise funds towards the completion of the hospital, and there was much approval of a gift of £20 from the Earl of Cawdor. Originally it provided just twelve beds, though later a wing was built to the rear. The hospital continued to serve the town but by the early 1900s it had become out-dated. In 1903 the decision was taken to erect a new hospital (see below) (Sources: Inverness Courier, 7 Feb 1844, p.3; Nairnshire Mirror and General Advertiser, 11 July 1846, p.3)

NAIRN TOWN & COUNTY HOSPITAL, CAWDOR ROAD designed by William Mackintosh and built in 1904-6 (dated 1906 in the central pediment). John Gifford didn’t mince his words in the Pevsner Guide, describing the hospital as ‘small but stodgy Wrennaissance’.  The original building has been retained, used for dental services, as part of a larger complex including a new community hospital.

Extract of the 6-inch  OS map, revised 1938. The Town and County Hospital is just north of Larkfield House, to the left is the poorhouse (Public Assistance Institution). Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The building of 1904-6 replaced the earlier hospital of 1846 (see above). The decision to replace it having been taken in 1903, and the plans boosted by the promised donation of £4,000 by a native of the town, Alexander Mann, from Guayaquil, South America. This largely covered the cost of construction, and he later also gifted £1,000 to purchase the site. (Sources: Aberdeen Journal, 29 July 1903, p.3; 16 Aug 1906, p.6

NAIRN UNION POORHOUSE, BALBLAIR ROAD (demolished) Built in 1860-2. [Sources: see also workhouses.org]

Extract of the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed 1868. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

NEW CRAIGS PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL, INVERNESS Opened in 2000, this was the first psychiatric hospital built in Scotland under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). It was built and managed by Robertson Group. [Sources: wikipedia.]

NICHOLSON MACKENZIE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, STRATHPEFFER Designed by W. C. Joass and opened 1896. Set on the slopes above Strahpeffer it blends in with the neighbouring villas of this surprising spa. It is a buff-coloured harled building with a tall slim central block of two storeys flanked by single-storey ward blocks.

South front of the former Nicolson Mackenzie Hospital, photographed in August 2019 © H. Richardson

At a public meeting in Strathpeffer in October 1891 the first committee was appointed for promoting a hospital scheme, and a site was gifted by the Earl of Cromartie. In 1894, the committee was offered £1,000 from Miss Morison Duncan, on behalf of her mother, Mrs Morison Duncan of Naughton House, Fife, if the hospital was named after her uncle, Dr Nicolson MacKenzie, a native of Strathpeffer, who was drowned at sea.

East front and main entrance to the former hospital, photographed in August 2019 © H. Richardson

The hospital closed c.1990-3, and was subsequently converted to domestic use. Around that time the harling, which had been painted white, was repainted a buff colour. Renamed Mackenzie House, it became a guest-house/bed-and-breakfast.

View from the north-west, the rear of one of the former ward blocks is in the foreground to the right, photographed in August 2019 © H. Richardson

NORTHERN COUNTIES CONVALESCENT HOME, MOSS-SIDE ROAD, TRADESPARK, NAIRN  This small home was built in 1892 to designs by Ross and Macbeth. It continued to operate throughout the twentieth century, though it was never transferred to the NHS. It finally closed in 2004. The building seems to survive, now a private house. (Sources: Inverness Courier, 28 June 1892, p.1)

Extract of the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed 1904. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

PORTREE HOSPITAL, SKYE This small general hospital was built in the 1960s. Until relatively recently, it presented a low single‑storey elevation from its entrance, being built into the hillside overlooking the bay, but an additional storey was added in 2006-7.

Portree Community Hospital behind the cottages on the water front, photographed in 2010. © Copyright John Allan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The bowed entrance porch was capped by a white‑rendered funnel‑like chimney stack with port‑hole style window gave the hospital a suitable sea‑side air, lost in more recent additions and alterations.

Portree Hospital, photographed in 2009.  An NHS Highland community hospital with 13 beds, opened in 1964. The main direct patient services provided are acute and general medical, rehabilitation, outpatient services and Accident and Emergency/Casualty.© Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The establishment of a general hospital at Portree was long overdue by the 1960s, after many delays work began in April 1963 and the hospital officially opened in March 1964. It had 12 beds, six for maternity cases. Out-patient clinics were introduced the following year. The building was raised in 2005-6, increasing the capacity to 18 in two wards and eight single rooms. [Sources: J. C. & S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye, 2011]

RAIGMORE HOSPITAL, INVERNESS     Raigmore Hospital began as an Emergency Medical Scheme (EMS) hospital. Built by James Campbell & Sons, builders and MacDonald, joiners, it was begun in 1940 and the first wards opened in 1941. It followed the familiar EMS design with the single‑storey, flat-roofed ward blocks constructed of brick, due to restrictions on the use of timber and steel for building construction. It was situated on a 40‑acre site on the southern outskirts of Inverness. Sixteen standard wards and one isolation block were built to provide around 670 beds. Staff quarters were located in the blocks on the north-west side of the complex. At the heart of the site, between the staff quarters and the main ward huts was the admin section with the central kitchens, dining rooms, laboratories, matron’s quarters and services. An isolation block, Ward 17, was to the east of the central section. This was converted into a maternity unit in 1947, and then became a children’s ward in 1955.

Raigmore Hospital, Perth Road, Inverness. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing north-west, taken September 1948 © HES (Aerofilms Collection)

As with the other six war-time hospitals, Raigmore became part of the National Health Service on the appointed day in July 1948. Some new specialist departments were created, wards changed function, and additions were built – including an outpatients department in 1956. Raigmore had also already become a General Training School for nursing in 1946.

Plans for a new central general hospital at Inverness formed part of the 1962 Hospital Plan  drawn up by the Department of Health for Scotland. Raigmore was the obvious choice of site. The new hospital was designed to be built in two major phases of construction. J. Gleave & Partners were appointed as architects. Phase one was commenced in May 1966, this was largely completed and opened in 1970 having cost some £1.42 million. The largest part of the new hospital was situated to the south of the main wards, comprising a low-rise complex providing outpatient, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy and records departments.

Extract from the OS 1:1,250 map, revised in 1961. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

A standard plan for out-patients departments issued by the Scottish Home and Health department was adopted here. The architect to the Northern Regional Hospitals Board,  D. P. Hall, was part of the project team, as he was on the two other contemporary major schemes carried out by outside architects for the Board, Belford Hospital (also designed by Gleave & partners) and Craig Phadrig. Every senior officer of the NRHB were also part of the team, ensuring that there was advice from administrators and medical staff. Other additions to the site at this time included a new Inverness Central School of Nursing and Post Graduate Medical Centre, built to the north of the original ward block, and nurses’ accommodation, located to the west of the old central admin area.

Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, photographed in 2009 © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

The second phase was approved in 1977, comprising the eight-storey ward block with operating theatres, kitchen and dining rooms, an administration block, a chapel and a works department. Work commenced in 1978, and the tower block was opened in March 1985. Further staff accommodation formed a separate contract, with three blocks of 32 bed-sitting rooms, 32 three-apartment houses and a block of two-apartment flats.

Maggie’s Centre, Raigmore Hospital, photographed in 2007 by TECU consulting UK. Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Gradually all the war-time buildings were demolished. Part of the cleared ground was allocated to a new maternity unit which opened in January 1988. The last huts went in 1990, the same year that a new isolation unit was completed. The fourth Maggie’s Centre in Scotland opened beside Raigmore in 2005. Designed by David Page of the Scottish architectural firm Page and Park Architets, with gardens designed by Charles Jencks.

In stark contrast to the EMS hospital, the central feature of Raigmore Hospital today is the multi‑storey ward‑tower, which strikes the view of all who arrive in Inverness by car from the south on the A9. [Sources: Inverness Courier, 2/11/2017 online: Glasgow Herald, 6 June 2005, p.2: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 3 May 1977, p13; 22 Sept 1979, p.2: Builder, 22 July 1960, p.174, 24 July 1964, p.201: Hospital Management, vol.34, 1971, pp 108-10: The Hospital, vol.67, 1971, p.175: PP Estimates Committee 1 (sub-committee B) 1969-70, minutes of evidence, 2382-93, 2422, 2503: J. & S. Leslie, The Hospitals of Inverness, Old Manse Books, 2017.]

ROSEDENE MATERNITY HOSPITAL, INVERNESS   The first patient was admitted to the Rosedene Maternity Hospital on 15 March 1940. It was a converted domestic house which provided sixteen beds. The house was formerly the Northern Counties Children’s Home. Rosedene Hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 but was later closed.

ROSS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Ferry Road, Dingwall, Ross & Cromarty         The cottage hospital opened in 1873 as a memorial to Dr William Ross who died in 1869. It was designed by W. C. Joass, and remains one of the best surviving Cottage Hospitals in Scotland.

Old postcard of the Ross Memorial Hospital. © H. Richardson

The Ross Memorial Hospital served both as a surgical hospital and a fever hospital, the different functions being separated and housed on either side of the central administration block. H. C. Burdett commended the plan in his book on Cottage Hospitals published in 1880, as a good model: ‘as, with the exception of the ventilation of the WCs, which should in all cases be entered by a lobby with cross ventilation, so that the escape of sewer gas into the passages may be avoided, we consider the arrangements very good indeed.’

Ross Memorial Hospital  Photograph taken in 2014© Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The David Ross lodge was built in 1896 as a memorial to the Provost David Ross by the Wester Ross Farmers’ Club. In 1909 a new isolation hospital was constructed to the rear and further additions in 1939 by the local architects Mackenzie and MacDonald provided a maternity wing. Under the NHS a new out-patient department was built which opened in 1962.  [Sources: H. C. Burdett, Cottage Hospitals, 1880: The Hospital, vol.58, no.7 July 1962, p.491]

ROSS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, PORTREE, SKYE   The Ross Memorial Hospital in Portree was built in 1892-4 as a cottage fever hospital, on the western outskirts of the town near to the poorhouse. It was named after a local doctor, Dr Ross, who died during an outbreak of the fever in Portree.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1901. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was built to designs drawn up in 1891 by John Mackenzie of Portree (perhaps related to the James Mackenzie whose designs for the Mackinnon hospital were rejected in 1910). Plans and elevations at the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre show a simple T-plan, single-storey building with a 3-bed ward on either side of the central entrance set back in a porch that could be used as a room for convalescents. The wing to the rear had a nurse’s room, kitchen, scullery, stores and bathroom. Water-closets were shown on the plan, but were not installed at the time – presumably there was no mains sewer and, as was common in rural hospitals, earth-closets were provided instead. There was also a detached wash-house and mortuary.

Building at the rear of the former Arts Centre. Originally built as the wash-house and mortuary for the hospital, photographed in 2009 © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The 1948 Scottish Hospitals Survey Report listed it as a single‑storey, stone‑built infectious diseases hospital serving all of Skye, with eight beds and two cots in two wards. The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service and was finally closed in the 1965 when Portree Hospital opened.  It lay derelict until 1988 when it was taken over by a local arts group, An Tuireann. It was remodelled as an arts centre in 1997, but closed in 2007. It was acquired by the University of the Highlands and Islands and remodelled/extended as the new West Highland College which opened in 2013. [Sources:  J. C. & S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye2011]

ROYAL NORTHERN INFIRMARY, INVERNESS The plans for the infirmary were prepared by John Smith of Banff and the foundation stone was laid in 1799. It opened, after some delays, in 1804. The original portion of the building resembled a fairly plain neo‑classical villa. It was of three storeys with a central three‑bay block, capped by a pediment supported by giant order corinthian pilasters raised over the ground floor. This block was linked by single‑storey quadrants to two‑storey pavilions.

The first major additions were carried out by the local architects Matthews & Lawrie in 1865. They created a continuous three‑storey facade, building upon the quadrants and over the pavilions. In 1871 fever wards were built and were ready for occupation in May 1873. Situated to the north of the main Infirmary and detached from it, this block was altered to form the North Nurses’ Home after the infirmary ceased to admit fever patients in 1917.

In 1896‑8 the Inverness architects Ross & Macbeth provided a new operating theatre for the main building situated in the upper floor of the porte‑cochere, which they added onto the centre of the facade. Although of some architectural distinction in itself, it spoiled the elegance of the original building. At the same time Ross & Macbeth built the Tweedmouth chapel. It was designed in a ‘late pointed Scottish Gothic’ style, according to the Inverness Courier. It was provided by the Dowager Lady Tweedmouth as a memorial to her late husband.

Centre of the main front of the Royal Northern Infirmary photographed around 1990 (c)Harriet Richardson

Having provided the infirmary with a neo‑classical operating theatre and a gothic chapel, in the following year Ross & Macbeth built a Scottish Baronial style nurses’ home. This domestic‑ scale building was situated between the entrance lodge and the main Infirmary building.

The Infirmary was transformed from 1927 after consultation with Dr. D. J. Mackintosh at Glasgow’s Western Infirmary, who made recommendations for the extension and modernisation of the hospital. Also on his recommendation, Sir J. J. Burnet was appointed architect for the work. The extension provided a new kitchen block, children’s ward block, operating theatre, surgical ward block, sewing room, medical ward, out‑patients’ department, radiological department and boiler house, laundry, mortuary and laboratories. Until the completion of the new Raigmore Hospital, the Royal Northern Infirmary remained the principal general hospital for the Northern Region.

A new community hospital was built in the grounds (to left of main building) and ancillary buildings to the right were demolished to make way for housing. The main building is now the Headquarters of the UHI (University of the Highlands & Islands) Millennium Institute. [Sources: C. MacKenzie, The Story of a Scottish Voluntary Hospital, Inverness, 1946.]

ST VINCENT’S HOSPITAL, KINGUSSIE, INVERNESS‑SHIRE   The hospital opened in 1901 as the Grampian Sanatorium. It was founded by Dr de Watteville. It is a two‑storey building of seven bays, the facade enlivened with gabled end bays and dormers. The windows are, unusually, all arched, mostly in pairs, those on the lower floor reaching down to the ground, but have been spoiled by modern glazing. Originally they were sashes, with rounded revolving fanlights above.

The sanatorium was later purchased by Dr Savey, who then sold it to the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul though he carried on as superintendent. It remained in the care of the Sisters until 1986 when it was transferred to Highland Health Board.

This engraving appeared in Sanatoria for Consumptives to accompany a short description of the sanatorium. It claimed that Dr de Watteville had been treating local patients by open-air methods since May 1899.[Lancet 3 Dec 1903] In the new building all the patients’ bedrooms were on the south side of the corridors, and each measured approximately 4m by 3.3m by 3.3m. The end rooms on the ground floor (7.3m x 6m) were used as a dining room and a drawing room. Patients’ rooms had polished wood floors, walls painted with ‘duresco’, rounded angles and specially designed furniture. The hospital was threatened with closure in 2014, together with the Ian Charles Hospital at Grantown.

SEAFORTH SANATORIUM, MARYBURGH, ROSS & CROMARTY   The Seaforth Sanatorium opened in 1908 and was designed by Alexander Ross and Macbeth of Inverness. Now Seaforth House, it is a nursing and respite care home.

Seaforth Sanatorium, photographed c.1990 © H. Richardson

It was designed on a half‑butterfly‑plan which maximised the amount of sunshine in the wards and had tall and broad windows through which beds could be pushed onto the verandah. It was built for the treatment of phthisis (TB) patients from the counties of Ross and Cromarty, and was provided with a rich endowment and funds for building and equipment by Colonel Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth and his wife Mary Margaret.

Seaforth House, photographed in May 2006, © John Allan

The picturesque central section of two storeys has elaborate armorials of the Stewart Mackenzies carved on the dormer heads. It was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 but later closed. In 1988 it was being used as a home for people with additional support needs. [Sources: Lancet, 21 April 1906, p.1142: Northern Star and Farmers Chronicle, 23 Jan. 1908, p.5 (ill.).]

SKYE UNION POORHOUSE, PORTREE, SKYE   The Skye Union Poorhouse was built in 1859 to designs by William Joass of Ross & Joass, Dingwall. It provided accommodation for 51 inmates, but seems to have been little used.

Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1875. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Around 1916 alterations were made to accommodate TB patients. Following the Local Government Act in 1929 the poorhouse was scheduled for closure. In 1933-4 it was extended and turned into a hostel for children attending school in Portree by the Carnegie foundation. An additional storey was built on to the originally single-storey wings, rendered and painted white in contrast to the bare stone of the 1850s buildings.

It remained in use as a hostel for Portree High School, and a new building for boys added in about the 1970s.  In 2015 plans were approved to demolish the hostel to make way for a new Gaelic primary school. Portree and Braes community council objected to the demolition, claiming it was one of the ‘very few historical and attractive buildings in Portree’. The plans submitted to the council by Rural Design Architects on behalf of Highland Council failed to give an accurate history of the building, suggesting that they were not older than 1924. [Sources: Inverness Advertiser, 12 July 1859: Poor Law Commissioners, Annual Report, 1908, 66885:  J. C. & S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye2011: West Highland Free Press, 6 Aug 2015, accessed online 29/05/2016: Highland Council planning online application details: see also workhouses.org.uk]

STEIN SMALLPOX HOSPITAL, SKYE Erected in 1904 but possibly never used, this small prefabricated hospital was supplied by Speirs & Co. for Inverness County Council following an outbreak of smallpox. The disease had already been contained by the time the hospital had been built, but plans to move it to Dunvegan came to nothing. It was so isolated that it was pretty much useless, but was nevertheless maintained until after the First World War. Some time during or after 1919 it was finally dismantled.

The plans of the hospital survive at Highland Archive Service, and show the simple hospital hut with its two four-bed wards either side of the main entrance. [Sources: J. Leslie, ‘Dewar and the Highland Hospitals’ in From Farm Cart to Air Ambulance 2013:  J. C. & S. J. Leslie, The Hospitals of Skye2011]

THURSO COMBINATION POORHOUSE, HALKIRK, CAITHNESS   The Thurso Poorhouse was designed in 1854 by the Edinburgh architect, William Lambie Moffatt. It is a somewhat bleak building with the familiar gabled bays to the front. Like the other Highland poorhouses it failed in its purpose of providing for the poor. By the turn of the century there were only about a dozen inmates although it had been built to accommodate 149 paupers. The Royal Commission on Distress Report of 1909 was already recommending its closure or that it be converted for pauper lunatics.

It closed in the 1920s and the building is now occupied by private housing. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30910/1‑7: see also http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Thurso/]

VICTORIA HOSPITAL, FORT WILLIAM A small Speirs & Co. prefabricated hospital for smallpox erected in 1904 near Belford Hospital. It was maintained up until the 1920s, but once Culduthel Hospital had been built it was deemed redundant. The building was sold in 1935 to Lochaber Power Company.

WICK TOWN & COUNTY HOSPITAL   The Wick Town & County Hospital opened in 1910 and was designed by the local architect, Sinclair Macdonald.

Wick Town & County Hospital, photographed around 1989

It was provided as an infectious diseases hospital. The plans were copied from earlier plans made by the architect for the abortive hospital at Georgemas, Halkirk, planned for Thurso burgh, but never built. Initially Wick Town Council had intended to extend the fever hospital at Harrow Park but looked for an alternative site when they were asked for exorbitant feu duties for land  adjacent to that building. In 1901 the Town Council acquired a site from the Hempriggs Trustees and built the new hospital which opened in 1910. It comprises a plain single‑storey assemblage of buildings. A TB ward was added during the First World War. In 1941 the administration block was largely destroyed by a fire. [Sources: Inverness Local History Library, Wick Town Council Minutes.]

17 thoughts on “Highland

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  2. The Easter Ross Union Poorhouse at Tain (later the Arthurville Poor Law Institution) was designed by Andrew Maitland, who “drew out the whole of the plans and specifications himself” . Henry Dunning Macleod was not the architect but the President of the Board of Management. The story of its construction is fully reported in the Inverness Courier of 30th May, 1850

    • Dear Mr Mackenzie,
      Thank you very much for sending in this information and correction for the entry on the former Easter Ross Poorhouse, and for providing the reference.
      with best wishes,
      from Harriet

  3. I think you will find that the Migdale Hospital, originally the Sutherland Combination Poorhouse, was built in 1863-5 to designs by Andrew Maitland, not Matthews & Lawrie. http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Sutherland has an account, presumably based on of minutes of the Board of Supervision, of comments and suggestions on Andrew Maitland’s plans. An invitation to tender in the Inverness Courier of 2nd July, 1863 says that plans and specifications may be seen with Mr Maitland, architect, Tain between 5th and 24th July.

    • Dear Mr Mackenzie,
      Thank you very much for taking the time to send in corrections and further information on the former Migdale Hospital. I can only apologise for my errors, but these have at least now been rectified. I am aware of Peter Higginbothom’s excellent workhouses website, and have been slowly going through the Scottish poorhouses covered on it, and adding links to the relevant pages. Obviously, I had not got around to these sites, but your comments are a timely reminder that I should get on with it.
      with very best wishes,
      from Harriet

  4. John Martin, the son of William Martin the Innkeeper of Stenscholl (Staffin) son of Lieutenant John Martin of Flodigarry died with an estate of 12,185 pounds of which e gave 500 pounds to his sister Catherine, 150 pounds to John Martin of Govan and 150 pounds to Violet Martin of Glasgow. He gave a life estate in the residue for his sister who died a few yearrs afterwards and the remainder was given for the construction of the hospital and free medication especially for poor cotters of Kilmuir (he said he was a “native” of Kilmuir in his Will) which he said included the quad sacra parish of Stenscholl.

    The 1200 pounnd mentioned does no justice to the size of his gift in 1898.

  5. Are there no photos of Culduthel Hospital? SAD! How about a few shots of Hilton Hospital!! Where are the shots of old Raigmore?
    I worked in the 70s for Highland health Board in all the main centres including the Belfort, RNI, Raigmore, CDH, CPH.
    This presentation is nice, but well short of being complete.
    ‘nurses’ accommodation, located to the west of the old central admin area.’ This statement is incorrect, – the nurses’ accommodation were for everyone, except all nurses! Physios, OTs, Doctors, yes, but we as nursing students, who were a huge workforce in the hospital, we sat in the infested old nurses home. In the 5 years I was a student in the Highland Health Board (2 years of which I was postgraduate) I never had the opportunity to live in this so called ‘nurses accommodation’.

    • I agree – I would love to have some shots of ALL the hospitals on the site, but I can’t always find ones that I can use because of copyright restrictions – very sad. Apologies for all inaccuracies – it is very interesting to learn that accommodation was not always used as it was intended, although I probably should not be surprised.

  6. The John Martin memorial hospital story understates John Martin’s generosity.

    He left an estate of 12,000 pounds of which 1200 was spent building the hospital. The rest went to the running of the hospital.

    I can send his Will [which is recorded at Scotlands People] if you would like your story to be accurate.

    Stephen John Martin
    Canberra Australia


  7. Looking for a place called Seaburn, Milburn where someone gave birth to a baby in 1926. Was it a private maternity home perhaps

      • Hi Harriet, it would have been in Inverness, Scotland, I wondered if it was perhaps a private maternity hospital, the person was also unmarried at the time so even a place for unwed mothers to give birth. Was just curious. I don’t know where people would give birth back in 1926 if they were in Inverness. Many thanks Ann

  8. Hi Harriet
    Trust you are well.
    The Latheron Poorhouse changed its name to the Caithness Town and County Home around 1922. It was very poor quality and in 1947 the residents were transferred to nearby Forse House which had been used by the RAF during WW2. Former Latheron poorhouse was dismantled shortly after and the stonework used to construct housing in Latheron Lane Ullapool. Forse House continued as a residential home until 1972 when residents were transferred to Wick.
    Very Best Wishes

    • Hi Jim, I am very well, thank you, I hope you are too. Many thanks for the info on Latheron, I will update the page tomorrow. I’m hoping to get back up north next year, but haven’t strayed far from Fife for a while, just a short trip to Poolewe.
      All the best,

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