BARSHAW HOSPITAL, PAISLEY Barshaw House, a somewhat eccentric looking house, was built in the late eighteenth century to designs by Robert Smith. It was extended to the west around 1860, and again around 1880 to designs by John Hutchison.
The house was acquired by Paisley Town Council in 1911 with the grounds being opened as a public park the following year. The house became an infirmary, taking wounded soldiers towards the end of the First World War. It was subsequently converted into a Maternity and Child Welfare Home. It opened as such on 15 December 1921.
A new maternity ward was built to the rear of the house, probably in the 1930s, under the influence of T. Tait’s Hawkhead Hospital in Paisley. It closed as a maternity hospital in 1959 and was then converted into a geriatric hospital, re-opening in 1961.
It had closed again by the late 1990s, the house was converted into flats in 1998. [Sources: Pevsner Architectural Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016: and see the Mansion Houses of Paisley]
BRIDGE OF WEIR HOSPITAL William Quarrier founded the Orphan Homes of Scotland in 1876. It developed into a self-contained village, in which the orphans were housed in detached villas under the care of house parents. The village had its own school, church and a children’s hospital. To the south a separate sanatorium was established. There was also a small epileptic colony to the north-west of the village.
The site to the south of the village was purchased in 1893 for a consumption sanatorium – in the days before the discovery of the tubercle bacillus and the identification of consumption or phthisis as tuberculosis. The first part of the sanatorium opened on 3 September 1896. Along with the two later blocks to the west, it was designed by the Glasgow-based hospital architect Robert Bryden.
William Quarrier had toured similar institutions in England with Bryden, who was also the architect of the Quarrier Homes. They visited the hospital for consumptives at Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight, and incorporated many of its features at Bridge of Weir. In particular Quarrier was impressed by the provision of private bedrooms and small sitting rooms. A Board of Medical Advisers, assembled by Quarrier to assist in preparing plans, comprised some of the leading authorities of the day, including Professor W. T. Gairdner, Dr D Yellowlees and Dr J. B. Russell.
The hospital was built in three stages, as funds permitted, the foundation stone of the first building was laid by Sir William Arrol on 5 September 1894 and the first block was opened by Lady Glen Coats two years later. This was followed by the second sanatorium building. ‘The door of Hope’, (at the centre of the present hospital complex), built in 1898-1900, and the third block opened in 1907 to the west.
By 1899 the Nordrach open-air treatment was adopted, although the buildings were not initially designed on the open air principal. With the decline in the need for tuberculosis accommodation the hospital was converted for geriatric patients and the chronic sick.
The hospital had closed by 2004 when work began to redevelop the site for housing, the original buildings were converted into flats, and post-war additions removed. [Sources: Alexander Gammrie, A Romance of Faith, 1945: Lancet, 6 Oct. 1906, p.961.]
CALDWELL HOUSE, UPLAWMOOR (ruined) Caldwell House, designed by Robert Adam, built 1771-3, was a mansion house in Adam’s restrained castle style. It was converted into a mental deficiency institution by Govan Board of Control, opening in 1929. A laundry and boiler house were built to designs by James Taylor as part of the conversion to hospital use.
The patients were transferred to Merchiston Hospital when the new complex was opened and Caldwell House was sold. Neglect and vandalism were compounded by a serious fire in 1995 to reduce the house to a roofless ruin. [Sources: Pevsner Architectural Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016]
DARNLEY HOSPITAL, EASTWOOD (demolished) Darnley Hospital was designed by James Lymburn Cowan as the Joint Infectious Diseases Hospital provided by the Upper District of Renfrew and the burghs of Pollokshaws and Barrhead.
The decision to build the hospital was taken in 1894 and the plans were approved soon afterwards. The architect was a local man who also designed the masonic halls in West Regent Street, Glasgow and submitted designs for the Govan District Asylum in the following year. The central two‑storey, Flemish baroque administration building had a central shaped gable and dormers giving a lively, almost castellated skyline. Carved strapwork details on window bays, gables and the entrance‑arch focus attention away from the simple, single‑storey ward blocks to either side.
DYKEBAR HOSPITAL, PAISLEY Dykebar Hospital was built as the Renfrew District Asylum by T. G. Abercrombie. It opened in 1909 and was the last of the group of colony or village district asylums. It served the county of Renfrew with the exception of Paisley and Johnstone burghs which already had provision for pauper lunatics.
Originally the asylum consisted of an administrative centre with admission hospital wings to each side, two male villas, two female villas and a reception house, the very suavely detailed medical superintendent’s house (now derelict, and just a roofless shell) and the service buildings. The individual blocks have many features typical of Abercrombie’s meticulous work seen in the details of the chimney stacks, and in his treatment of the dormers and gables. There is also a fine lodge and gate‑way to the east of the site.
In 1914 two further villas and a nurses’ home were added. Towards the end of the First World War the hospital was taken over by the military, but during the Second World War Dykebar received patients from the requisitioned Stirling District Asylum at Bellsdyke and the Smithston Institution at Greenock.
In 1975 a major new extension was opened which provided accommodation for psycho‑geriatric patients, a new recreation hall and patient and staff dining-rooms.
ELDERSLIE COTTAGE HOSPITAL, CHERRYWOOD ROAD, ELDERSLIE (demolished) Formerly known as the Johnstone and District Cottage Hospital it opened c.1893. It was a compactly designed hospital very much like a pair of picturesque cottages. [Sources: Medical Directory, 1904]
ERSKINE HOSPITAL see Princess Louise Hospital
FORDBANK MATERNITY HOME, MILLIKEN PARK (demolished) Functioning in the 1940s, established in Fordbank House, south-west of Milliken Park Station.
GOCKSTON SMALLPOX HOSPITAL, PAISLEY (demolished) Built in the 1890s as a smallpox hospital, and extended prior to the outbreak of the First World War. It was later used for TB cases. It had been demolished by the 1950s.
GLENCOATS AUXILIARY HOSPITAL, PAISLEY (Largely demolished) The house of Ferguslie Park, designed by Hippolyte J. Blanc, was presented to the Royal Alexandra Infirmary in 1934. It was designated as an auxiliary hospital in memory of Sir Thomas and Lady Glen Coats and Major A. Harold Glen Coats.
HAWKHEAD HOSPITAL, PAISLEY (partly demolished) Opened on 7 July, 1936 to designs by Burnet, Tait and Lorne in the distinctive International Modern, streamlined style, with its flat roofs and rounded angles. The cubicle isolation ward block has particular flair and is the best example of such a block in Scotland. The site comprises a gate house, administration building, nurses’ home, staff cottages, boiler house and laundry with six single‑storey ward pavilions set to the rear on a north‑south axis, and the cubicle isolation ward block adjacent on a west‑east axis. The blocks were constructed in hollow brick‑work and finished in Brizolit, a fine textured rough‑cast which was painted white giving the hospital a gleaming clinical appearance. Pale yellow and blue tiles form the chief decorative feature of the buildings, on tiled piers flanking doorways and some windows. The blocks are now dry‑dashed in buff‑brown, this and the removal of many of the other original features greatly lessens the impact of the hospital complex.
The hospital was built as a large new infectious diseases hospital to replace the outdated small hospitals built at the turn of the century. In this respect it compares with Cameron Hospital in Fife and the Ayrshire Central Hospital at Irvine but Hawkhead has the edge on these in daring and exciting architecture, as might be expected with Tait as the architect, who was a native of Paisley. [Sources: Architect & Building News, 18 March 1932, p.382; Journal of the R.I.B.A., 23 January 1937, p.271; The Builder, 14 January 1938, p.79; Argyll and Clyde Health Board, Hawkhead Hospital, souvenir brochure for opening of hospital.]
JOHNSTONE HOSPITAL Begun c.1887 this hospital was originally built as the Johnstone Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Most of the older blocks have now been demolished to make way for the new blocks built in the 1980s. A small‑pox hospital had been built to the north by 1911. It was constructed of corrugated‑iron and wood, probably by Speirs & Co. and was sometimes used as an overflow fever hospital. [Sources: The Builder, 20 Nov. 1886, p.749; 1 Feb. 1896, p.99.]
LOCHWINNOCH SANATORIUM, WEST MITCHELTON The Lochwinnoch Sanatorium was designed by Abercrombie & Maitland in 1931.[Sources: Architect & Building News, 13 March 1931, p.389.]
MEARNSKIRK HOSPITAL, NEWTON MEARNS (largely demolished) Mearnskirk Hospital was provided by Glasgow Corporation’s Public Health Department as part of its scheme for the prevention and treatment of TB. The 321‑acre site was purchased in 1913 and building began in 1921. It was originally intended as a sanatorium for 500 children, with plans prepared by J. A. T. Houston. In the late 1980s, the complex at Mearnskirk survived as a remarkably complete and relatively unaltered range of buildings. Built of red brick, the whole emphasis of the ward blocks was on ventilation and fresh air, with south‑facing verandas to the half‑butterfly‑plan blocks and the long glazed ventilators straddling the roof ridges. The wards are set in pleasant garden grounds with mature trees. The administration, kitchen and stores and nurses’ home continue the simple but even proportions of the wards. Of particular note was the engine house and the tall chimney with an unusually elaborate blind arcaded upper stage, one of the finest surviving hospital chimneys.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the children were evacuated to Millport and, under the Emergency Medical Service hutted ward blocks were built on the site to convert it into a Naval Auxiliary Hospital. It maintained some beds for civilian patients including those evacuated from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and casualties from the blitz of Clydebank and Greenock. After the War it catered for adults and children with TB and a thoracic surgical unit was opened.
After its transfer to the National Health Service, ear, nose and throat, heart surgery and other specialities were introduced until, in 1960, it was re‑categorised as a general hospital. A new operating theatre suite for cardio‑thoracic surgery opened in 1970 and a new 30‑bed geriatric unit in 1980.
The hospital closed in the 1990s and some of the buildings retained as part of a new housing development on the site. Survivals include the gate piers, lodge, medical superintendent’s house (now Southfield House), admin block (now Hazeldene nursery), and the nurses’ home (now Southwood Place). As well as housing the new development included a care home, Mearnskirk House, built in 1996-8 to designs by the Walker Partnership. A bronze statue of Peter Pan by Alexander Proudfoot of 1948-9 has been erected in the forecourt, cast by G. Mancini in memory of Dr John Wilson, the first medical superintendent of the hospital. [Sources: Greater Glasgow Health Board: Pevsner Architectural Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016.]
MERCHISTON HOSPITAL, JOHNSTONE The present hospital was built c.1979‑84 for the mentally handicapped. Previously Merchiston House had been used as a mental deficiency institution. The house was built in 1880 and was demolished on the completion of the new hospital buildings in 1985. [Sources: Frank Walker, South Clyde Estuary]
Paisley Burgh Poorhouse (see Royal Alexandra Infirmary Craw Road Annexe, below)
PAISLEY MATERNITY HOSPITAL Built on the site of the former Riccartsbar Hospital (see below). The new maternity hospital at Paisley opened in September 1969 with 112 beds and two authorised places for private patients. It is just to the west of the new Royal Alexandra Hospital. [Sources: PP, 4th Report of the Expenditure Committee… 1972, p.411]
PEESWEEP SANATORIUM, PAISLEY Originally a rest and convalescent home, the curiously named Peesweep Sanatorium was constructed in 1910 on the open‑air principle with 18 single rooms. It was subsequently either re-built or substantially extended, probably around the 1920s. It survives today as Lapwing Lodge, owned by the West Region Scout Council.
PRINCESS LOUISE HOSPITAL, ERSKINE Erskine House was opened 10 October 1916 as a hospital for soldiers wounded in the First World War. The house had been built in 1828-45 to designs by Sir Robert Smirke for Major General Robert W Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre. Following the outbreak of the First World War the house was gifted by its then owner, Thomson Aikman, for use as a hospital with the possibility of purchasing the estate if required. An impressive £100,000 was swiftly raised by the public towards the new hospital.
Garnering royal patronage, it became the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers. The official opening by Princess Louise took place on June 6, 1917. Pressure on space and the need for workshops to assemble artificial limbs lead to the erection of huts in the grounds before the end of the war. [Sources. The History of Erskine, on the Remembering Scotland at War website]
RICCARTSBAR HOSPITAL, PAISLEY (Demolished) Originally built as the asylum for Paisley and Johnstone burghs, Riccartsbar Hospital opened in June 1876. It was built to designs by John Honeyman.
It closed in 1975 and patients were transferred to Dykebar. The buildings were demolished to make way for the new Royal Alexandra Hospital.
ROSS HOSPITAL, HAWKHEAD ROAD, PAISLEY Founded in 1956, taking over from Barshaw Hospital. Closed in 1973 after the new Royal Alexandra Hospital opened on Corsebar Road. [Sources: information kindly supplied by Roddy Boyd.]
ROYAL ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL, PAISLEY This large new general hospital by Baxter, Clark & Paul opened in 1987 and replaced the old Royal Alexandra Infirmary.
ROYAL ALEXANDRA INFIRMARY, PAISLEY (Closed 1987) The Royal Alexandra Infirmary was built to designs by T. G. Abercrombie from 1897 to 1900. This monumental building was superceded by the new Royal Alexandra Hospital, but it was not the first incarnation for the Paisley hospital. In 1788 a public dispensary was founded in Paisley from which a House of Recovery was established in 1795. A variety of hospital buildings grew on the site at the west end of Abbey Bridge. Fever wards were provided and for a time cholera as treated on the site.
In 1878 grounds adjacent to the house were acquired by the parish council which built an epidemic hospital on the site for 60 patients although it was managed by the Infirmary. In 1886 a new convalescent home was opened in West Kilbride. In 1894 the managers decided that it was necessary to build a new hospital, the existing collection of buildings were largely outdated and the site overcrowded. The foundation stone of the new Royal Alexandra Infirmary was laid on 15 May 1897. The project was richly endowed by W. B. Barbour who gifted £15,000 to the building fund and by a local mill owner, Peter Coats, who gifted the nurses’ home.
The plan of the infirmary is of particular interest from its incorporation of circular wards in a three storey block to the north and its ward pavilions to the south which terminate in semi‑circular open verandas.
The Infirmary closed in 1987, after which part of the main range was used as a care home the rest was converted into flats in about 1995. The former nurses’ home was converted into flats in 2005-6 by Aitken Turnbull Architecture. After the care home closed in about 2008, this part of the former infirmary began to deteriorate and was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland in 2010. Inadequately secured by its owners it has attracted the attention of urbexers, so many photographs of the derelict building can be found online, but also from vandals who are contributing to the rapid decline of a building that should be saved, should be sympathetically restored and converted to housing, and should be treasured for its fine architecture and the skill of the masons and builders who erected it. [Sources: D. Dow, Paisley Hospitals, Glasgow, 1988: records at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives: Paisley Library, plans: Pevsner Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016.]
ROYAL ALEXANDRA INFIRMARY ANNEXE, CRAW ROAD, PAISLEY (Closed 1987, demolished) The main building on the site was built as the Abbey Poorhouse and opened in 1849. The first poorhouse in Paisley was built in 1618 and provided accommodation for six men. It had fallen into disrepair when it was replaced in 1723 by a new building on the same site with a public hall and steeple. In 1752 a new poorhouse was opened known as the Town’s Hospital.
After the 1845 Poor Law (Scotland) Act another new poorhouse was built on the Craw Road to which an asylum block was added in 1857.
A hospital block was added in 1890 and a sanatorium in 1909. Westmount House was purchased in 1911 and a new infirmary block for men opened. St Margaret’s House, a Victorian villa by John Hutchison of 1879, was opened as an old peoples home in 1928.
In 1948 with the inauguration of the National Health Service the poorhouse complex was incorporated as an annexe to the Royal Alexandra Infirmary. Most of the purpose‑built poorhouse blocks were due for demolition in 1991. All have now been demolished apart from St Margaret’s House.
ROYAL VICTORIA EYE INFIRMARY, MANSIONHOUSE ROAD, PAISLEY (Closed 1987) This purpose‑built specialist hospital was opened on 11 December 1899. It was designed by Charles Davidson.
The infirmary was founded in 1888, initially opening on 18 June of that year in rented rooms at No.1, Gauze Street. In 1896 it moved to Forbes Place and in the following year Archibald Mackenzie of Milliken provided funds for the new building. The new infirmary was designed in a domestic style with bow windows and spectacle glazing in the upper lights. Latterly it was converted into a care home called Nightingale House. [Sources: The Builder, 2 April 1898, p.334.]
THORN HOSPITAL, JOHNSTONE (Demolished) Like Barshaw Hospital in Paisley, the Thorn (sometimes Thornhill) Maternity Hospital was a converted house with a maternity ward added to it (Renfrew County Engineers Department, Samuel McColl principal architect) . With the opening of the new Paisley Maternity Hospital it changed its function, taking gynaecology and TB patients, but finally closed in 1987.