Orkney and Shetland

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

ORKNEY

BALFOUR HOSPITAL (FORMER), KIRKWALL   The Balfour Hospital originated in 1836 with a bequest from John Balfour of Trenaby for building, furnishing and endowing a hospital. In 1845 the Trustees purchased a house in Main Street from James Sherer for £450 and the hospital opened shortly afterwards.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.15.59Extract from the 1st-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1880. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.14.45Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1900. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1888 a separate fever hospital was built to the rear. This continued in use until 1938, by which time the rest of the hospital had been replaced by a new building elsewhere in the town (see below). The original building survives {as of 1990}, latterly in use as a hotel.

BALFOUR HOSPITAL, KIRKWALL   The present {1992} Balfour Hospital opened in 1927. It replaced the earlier hospital in the town of the same name. In March 1914 the widow and family of Baillie Robert Garden offered to fund a new building but the outbreak of War delayed the venture. The hospital was finally built in the 1920s. During the Second World War, hutted ward blocks were constructed in the grounds as part of the Emergency Medical Scheme, and a new ward annexe was built. Later a new maternity block was added.

EASTBANK HOSPITAL, KIRKWALL Eastbank House is a modest Georgian‑style house.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.16.40Extract from the 1st-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1880. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was converted into an infectious diseases hospital and sanatorium by Mr Ferguson, and opened in 1937. It replaced the Scapa Infectious Diseases Hospital. With the decline in the need for this type of accommodation the hospital was converted for use as a geriatric hospital.

ORKNEY COMBINATION POORHOUSE, SCAPA ROAD, KIRKWALL   The poorhouse for Orkney was built by T. S. Peace, senior, and opened in 1883.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1900. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It was planned to accommodate 50 paupers on the standard H plan, plainly constructed of ‘wally‑wall’ stone in squared rubble work with freestone dressings for sills and lintels of red sandstone. It was roofed with Welsh slates and given projecting eaves. The original plans by Peace were rejected by the Board of Supervision which suggested that they should be made simpler and less costly. To aid the Parochial Board in remodelling the plans, they enclosed tracings of the plans of the Skye and Long Island Combination Poorhouses. [Sources: Scottish Record Office, plans, RHP 30875/1‑4; RHP 30876/1‑14.]

SCAPA INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL, KIRKWALL (Demolished)   The former Sea‑plane station at Scapa was converted in 1923 by T. S. Peace into a small fever hospital. It seems to have been one of the last works by Thomas Peace senior, and his nephew, also Thomas Smith Peace, acted as his assistant on this commission.

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Extract from the 1-inch popular OS Map, surveyed in 1929-30. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

 

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

SHETLAND

BREVICK HOUSE, LERWICK   Formerly the Lerwick Combination Poorhouse, Brevick House originally opened on 17 September 1887 and was built to designs by T. S. Peace. The same architect designed the Orkney Poorhouse which was built on almost the same plan.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.32.20Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1900. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Various minor alterations were carried out during this century. It closed as a hospital in 1983 and the elderly patients were transferred to the Montfield Hospital. Brevick House is still in use by Shetland Health Board.

GILBERT BAIN HOSPITAL, LERWICK The new Gilbert Bain Hospital was built on the site of the former infectious diseases hospital. The foundation stone was laid on 21 April 1959 and the first phase was officially opened on 8 August 1961.

GILBERT BAIN HOSPITAL (FORMER), LERWICK   The hospital opened in 1902 and was designed by W. A. Baird Laing, an architect and civil engineer from Edinburgh. It was built with a bequest from Miss Enga Bain of £2,000 for the building and £1,000 towards its endowment. Further funds were donated by her sister Mrs Isabella Anderson. They were both sisters of Gilbert Bain, formerly a merchant in Singapore, and afterwards residing in Edinburgh. The hospital was subsequently extended in 1912 and 1925.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, revised in 1928. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

With the opening of the new Gilbert Bain it was retained as a geriatric unit until the new Montfield Hospital was opened in 1983. The building was sold in 1988 to a firm of undertakers.

THE KNAB HOSPITAL, LERWICK (Demolished)   The Knab Hospital opened as a fever hospital c.1850.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.33.46Extract from the 1st-edition OS Map, surveyed in 1877. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

 

LERWICK COMBINATION HOSPITAL (Mostly demolished)   The Combination Hospital for infectious diseases opened in 1889 to replace the old fever hospital at the Knab, where a hut was retained for smallpox cases.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, revised in 1928 (see also the map above of the poorhouse, Brevick House, which shows the site in 1900). Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The new Gilbert Bain Hospital was built on the site of part of the hospital and the last remaining block is scheduled for demolition in the future.

 

MONTFIELD HOSPITAL, LERWICK   Montfield Hospital originally opened on 13 November 1928 as the Zetland County Sanatorium, built to designs by P. Thompson. It provided twenty‑four beds and was built on the open air principal, despite the northerly climate, with verandas onto which the beds could be pushed.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 17.43.10Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map, revised in 1928. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1962 it became mostly a hospital for long‑stay patients and was renamed the Montfield. In 1983 major extensions were completed to convert it into a geriatric hospital. [Sources: Shetland District Archives, Minutes.]

2 Responses to Orkney and Shetland

  1. I have just been reading ‘The Hist. of Scotland…’ by R.A. Houston and W.W.J. Knox [eds] [Folio Soc. 2006] In volume 1 in the section dealing with the Reformation to the Union 1560-1707 written by Keith M. Brown, writing of ‘The Labouring Sorts’ on p. 344 he wrote; “Many pre-Reformation hospitals survived, as at Dundee or Lanark, while new establishments were founded at other sites, for example at Aberdeen, where two new institutions supplemented the three existing hospitals. Further north, new hospitals were founded at Inverness and even on Orkney.” No precise source or date is given for this assertion and it was in pursuit of further information that I chanced upon this website. I wonder therefore if you can shed any further light on a possible hospital foundation in Orkney dating from the 17th C? or anything pre-dating the Balfour?

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    • Excellent question – to which the short answer is no, but I will look into it. I had understood that hospitals in the medical sense had not survived the reformation, but there were certainly quite a few that did in England. Often the term hospital in the early modern period was applied to almshouses and schools rather than hospitals in the modern sense, but pest houses and leper hospitals also persisted through the medieval into the early modern periods.
      I don’t know about new post-reformation hospitals on Orkney, but the hospital of St Magnus founded in the fifteenth century was said to have survived into the seventeenth century see Canmore: https://canmore.org.uk/site/8329/st-magnus-hospital-and-chapel-spittal
      As I’m sure you know, the name ‘Spittal’ for an area or in a street name is often an indication of there having been a hospital in the vicinity.
      This would make a good topic for a post in the future – it is now on my to-do list.
      with best wishes
      from Harriet

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