Hospitals for mental illnesses and disabilities in Scotland

Here I have collected together the main hospitals in Scotland that cared for people with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities. They are in roughly chronological order of foundation/opening. Terminology has changed considerably over the centuries. Hospitals for this type of illness were generally called asylums, occasionally sanatoria, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In the early twentieth century hospital was increasingly common. Many of the descriptive terms are now outmoded and most of them offensive, particularly some of the more recent terms, but are used here for historical accuracy.

MONTROSE ROYAL LUNATIC ASYLUM (demolished) The Montrose Asylum was the first such institution to be founded in Scotland. Its foundation was largely due to Susan Carnegie of Charleton who was moved by the plight of lunatics imprisoned in Montrose Tollbooth. With Provost Christie, Mrs Carnegie organised subscriptions to fund the establishment of an asylum. The first meeting of subscribers was held on 5 July 1779 at which it was decided to build a lunatic hospital at a cost not exceeding 500. The original building was completed in June 1781 and the first patient was admitted in May 1782.

Illustration of the Royal Asylum at Montrose from Richard Poole’s book published in 1841

Initially it also served as an infirmary and dispensary but this side of its work was separated when the new Montrose Royal Infirmary was built in 1839. It was at this time that W. A. F. Browne was working as the physician superintendent at the asylum before he moved to the new Dumfries Asylum in that year. It was Browne who had recommended that the infirmary patients should be catered for in a separate building By the middle of the nineteenth century the buildings had become desperately overcrowded, despite various additions and alterations to the building. In 1855 the need for a new accommodation was recognised and a committee was appointed to look for a new site. In the same year a Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into the state of lunatic asylums in Scotland which severely criticised the existing building. By 1857 when the new asylum was under construction there were 250 patients in the old asylum. In 1858 the new building was completed (see under Sunnyside Royal Hospital). However, the old asylum continued in use until 1866 when it was leased to the Montrose Harbour Commissioners and used for a time as barracks.

Extract from the Town Plans 1861. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The accommodation provided in the old asylum by the mid‑ nineteenth century followed the usual pattern for the time largely comprising single rooms. There was a large central block of four storeys from which two, two‑storey wings projected. The airing courts were surrounded by high walls, but the ground in the middle of the courts was banked up to enable patients to obtain a view over the wall without being able to escape over it.

Detail of the Town Plan above, showing the airing courts with their mounds from which the patients could see over the enclosing walls. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
OS 25-inch map surveyed 1901-2, showing the former asylum in use as Panmure Barracks. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Sources: Richard Poole, Memoranda Regarding the Royal Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary of Montrose, 1841: A. S. Presly, ‘A Sunnyside Chronicle’, booklet on the history of the hospital produced by Tayside Health Board for the bi‑centenary of the hospital in 1981.

ROYAL CORNHILL HOSPITAL, ABERDEEN  In 1797 lands at Clerkseat were purchased and a small asylum was opened there in November 1800. Additional cells were soon provided, and improvements made in the segregation of male and female patients in 1809. By 1818 there were 63 patients in the asylum and larger premises were needed. An adiditonal three acres were purchased and a new building for 150 patients erected, designed by Archibald Simpson.

Detail from the OS Town Plan of Aberdeen, 1866-7. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
The central section of the asylum from the OS Town Plan of Aberdeen, 1866-7. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Detail of the south-western corner of the asylum from the OS Town Plan of Aberdeen, 1866-7. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
The laundry block, with wash-house and at the north end the dead house, and Barkmill House. Detail from the OS Town Plan of Aberdeen, 1866-7. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Hospital continued to expand gradually. Clerkseat House was built in 1852 as the medical superintendent’s house, but it soon became necessary to house patients there due to overcrowding in the main building. In 1855 a chapel was built. The managers of the asylum had decided, after the 1857 Lunacy Act, to provide accommodation for the whole of the paupers in the county, thereby acting as the District Asylum. The increasing number of patients lead to the establishment of Elmhill House in 1862 following the acquisition of the adjoining estate. In 1888 the estate of Glack, in Daviot parish, was purchased with 283 acres of land and two mansion houses and a country branch of the asylum was set up.

Clerkseat House. Detail from the OS Town Plan of Aberdeen, 1866-7. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Elmhill House, designed by William Rammage, was set in extensive pleasure grounds, laid out with terraces and drives. The accommodation combined security with the appearance of freedom, and was varied to provide some suites of apartments.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1924. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1888 two mansions, the old and new houses of Glack at Daviot, were acquired as an annexe to the hospital (see under House of Daviot in Aberdeenshire)With the removal there of 100 patients the Asylum managers turned their attention to the original site and the buildings were upgraded in 1892, and a new hospital for sick and acute cases built to the north in 1896. Further additions were made in 1898, with a new laundry and female day room and dormitories.

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Aberdeen Royal Asylum in about 1914 from the Aberdeen Handbook and Guide published in that year

During the 1920s TB pavilions were introduced and verandas added to some of the existing buildings. In 1931 Wellwood House at Cults opened under the direction of the asylum for early and transient uncertified patients (see separate entry below). During the 1930s the hospital was remodelled and Elmhill house converted into a nurses’ home.

When Kingseat Hospital was requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Second World War, many of the patients were transferred to Cornhill. The Cornhill site sustained bomb damage in 1943, with four fatalities. Elmhill House was severely damaged as well as wards and the laundry at the main site.

The hospital was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948, and a regional psychiatric out patient centre, the Ross Clinic, opened in 1959. In 1975 it was decided to replace the old building with a new hospital, though work did not commence until the late 1980s. The redevelopment was completed in 1994 and provided 180 acute psychiatric beds, 90 long-stay beds, out-patients, forensic unit and the Fulton Clinic. The Daviot site continued in use until 1995. [Sources: British Medical Association, Aberdeen 1914, A Handbook and Guide, Aberdeen, 1914: Grampian Health Board Archives, Annual Reports.]

DUNDEE ROYAL LUNATIC ASYLUM, ALBERT STREET (demolished) The Dundee Royal Asylum was founded in 1805 and built to designs by William Stark in 1812. Stark departed from the radial plan of his Glasgow Asylum to produce an H‑plan hospital.

Plan of the centre block of Dundee Royal Asylum by William Stark, from RCAHMS

The foundation stone was inscribed ‘to restore the use of reason, to alleviate suffering and lessen peril where reason cannot be restored’. William Stark later outlined the key points of the plan:

It admits of a very minute classification of patients according to their different ranks, characters and degrees of disease: it secures to every room the freest ventilation, and provides for the diffusion of heat through the building. Under one general management it separates the different classes of inhabitants from one another as completely as if they lived at the greatest distance, and it enables the system to be executed which every asylum ought especially to keep in view, that of great gentleness and great liberty and comfort combined with the fullest security.

Extract from the OS Town Plan of 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

A Royal Charter was granted to the asylum in 1819. William Burn took over from Stark as architect to the asylum and produced plans to enlarge the building in 1824.

Although when it was first built the asylum was outside the town, by the mid-1840s development was encroaching. There were severe problems of overcrowding, but expansion on the site was unfeasible. The managers delayed the inevitable removal to a new site for as long as they could, despite pressure from the Commissioners in Lunacy after 1857.

Reconstruction drawing by D. M. Walker, 1952, from RCAHMS

In 1875 the decision to erect a new asylum was finally taken. (An aerated water works in Cardean Street was built on this site after the Second World War)

ROYAL EDINBURGH HOSPITAL, TIPPERLIN ROAD   The original buildings by Robert Reid have now been demolished and the oldest section of the hospital remaining dates from 1842 by William Burn. The Royal Edinburgh is one of the most historically important hospitals in Scotland, playing a key role in the development of treating mental illness. The Craighouse development at the turn of the century was also of great importance in emphasising the significance of surroundings in the cure of mental disease.

Extract from Kirkwood’s map of Edinburgh, 1817. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The foundation of the hospital originated with the death of the poet, Robert Ferguson, in the City Bedlam on 16 October 1774. He died tragically aged 24. Dr Andrew Duncan had been his medical attendant and after Ferguson’s death he resolved to try to establish a hospital for the mentally ill. In 1792 an appeal was launched but the response was small. In 1806 Parliament granted 2,000 from confiscated estates following the Jacobite Rising of 1745. This enabled the site at Morningside to be purchased. Plans were prepared by Robert Reid for the new asylum. He devised a courtyard plan consisting of four large blocks, each effectively resembling a modest neo‑Classical house, one each side of the square, with square lodges at the corners. The plan was intended to facilitate the classification of the patients. Reid produced a pamphlet on his Observations on the Structure of Hospitals for the Treatment of Lunatics &c. which compares closely with the slightly later writings of William Stark of 1810 concerning the construction of the Glasgow Royal Asylum. Like Stark, Reid visited several asylums and hospitals for lunatics in different parts of England. Classification was the key to the plan:

To admit of proper separation of patients into different classes, according to their condition and circumstances, this asylum should consist of several buildings, in some respects detached from each other. Distinct classes of patients, according to their rank in life, and the payment which their relations agree to make to the Institution for their accommodation and maintenance, should be placed in separate houses: and each of these buildings should be so constructed as to admit of a complete separation not only of the sexes but also of patients of the same sex, according to the condition of their disease, as being furious, tractable, incurable or convalescent.

These were the same criteria for classifying patients which persisted throughout the century, and the emphasis on the segregation of the classes was always as strong as that for the proper serration of different mental conditions.

Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, East House, captioned ‘sketch showing the range of buildings which form one side of the square’ from RCAHMS

Reid’s design was on a larger scale than could have been built with the funds available. Aware of this, he concluded his pamphlet by drawing attention to the plan’s ‘peculiar advantage, that each part is separate and independent, and may be put to immediate use, as soon as it is finished’. Two wings of Reid’s building were built, and the first patient was admitted on 19 July 1813. Lack of funds not only prevented the rest of the plans being carried out but also prevented the managers from admitting pauper lunatics, which had, from the start, been one of its aims.

Additions were made in 1819‑1821 under the guidance of Reid, with modifications of the original plan, since ‘he has had an opportunity of visiting with a discerning eye almost every commodious asylum for the Insane which has lately been built whether in England, in Scotland or in Ireland’ as the Annual Report for 1821 declared.

Extract from the OS Large-scale Town Plans 1876. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The accommodation of paupers was proposed again in the 1820s and the managers considered that a separate house should be provided for this class. Reid prepared plans for such a building but they were eventually abandoned and in 1837 new plans were acquired from William Burn, consisting of the extension of the existing buildings. In 1840 a further new set of plans were drawn up by Burn for the West House. They relate most closely to Stark’s Dundee asylum being an H‑plan with central kitchen and dining hall to the rear. Only part of Burn’s plan was built initially, opening on 6 August 1842.

Extract from the OS Large-scale Town Plans 1876. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The new department contained wards for pauper lunatics and comprised three parts; a main wing of three stories with twelve dormitories and their accompanying workrooms, day-rooms, washing and bathrooms and six sick rooms, a separate single storey building for noisy patients of two large and six small dormitories and the kitchen and laundry. The new building was soon filled and after the patients from the City Bedlam had been admitted extension was necessary. The first addition by Burn in 1845 still left the accommodation inadequate despite many further minor alterations. By 1853 David Bryce was acting as the architect to the asylum and he produced plans for a new kitchen department at the East House as well as the completion of Burn’s West House, the south‑west wing remaining to be built. He also planned an octagonal building, a separate building for noisy patients, and a new wash‑house for the West House. These additions were completed in 1857.

William Burn’s West House, viewed from the south, from RCAHMS

In 1873 Dr Thomas Smith Clouston was appointed Physician Superintendent. At this time W. L. Moffatt was acting as architect to the asylum and he carried out various improvements. In 1877 the mansion house and estate of Craighouse was purchased and over the next 40 years the building activity at the hospital was centred there. The Craighouse development is considered separately below, and resulted in the demolition of Robert Reid’s original buildings in 1896. The hospital continued to expand its horizons after the opening of Craighouse. In 1929 an important development was made with the opening of the Jordanburn Nerve Hospital, where patients were informally admitted, and in 1931, a children’s clinic was established.

West House, Dining Hall, from RCAHMS

In 1948 the hospital was transferred to the National Health Service and in 1965 the Andrew Duncan Clinic was opened, designed by John Holt. He also designed the nine‑storey block for the University of Edinburgh’s Psychiatry Department on the site. These more recent additions have been less than sympathetic to the West House which has now lost most of its original impact. [Sources: Lothian Health Board Archives, plans, Annual Reports and Minutes.]

GLASGOW ROYAL ASYLUM (demolished)   Glasgow’s Royal Asylum, designed by William Stark in 1810, was probably the most important hospital to be built in Scotland. Its pioneering design was widely influential both in Scotland, the rest of Britain and on the Continent. It was the first time that the radial plan was introduced into hospital design, derived from Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon. This type of plan was peculiarly adapted to the purposes of a lunatic asylum at this date, when supervision and security were at least as important as the comfort and possible cure of the patients.

Extract from the OS large-scale Town Plans, 1858. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.
Detail of the above, showing the use at that time of the rooms in the central hub, and the complex system of corridors and stairs. OS large-scale Town Plans, 1858. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

In his ‘Remarks on the Construction of Public Hospitals for the Cure of Mental Derangement’, Stark outlined the principles of his plan:

The ground which will surround the building is of such a size as to admit of its being formed into a number of distinct enclosures, which, by means of separate passages, or stair cases, will connect with the wards of the several classes of patients. By these means the patients of each will have… the most direct and immediate access to that enclosure which is assigned to them for air and recreation; while it may be put completely out of their power to go beyond their own boundary, or to meet with, or even see, any individuals belonging to the other classes. In this way, each class may be formed into a society inaccessible to all others, while, by a peculiar distribution of the day rooms, galleries, and grounds, the patients, during the whole day, will be constantly in view of their keepers, and the superintendent, on his part, will have his eye on the patients, and keepers.

In this way Stark sought to obtain an asylum ‘ensuring the safety, and promoting the recovery, of the insane of every rank’. Supervision was obviously a key feature of the plan. This was a feature which persisted through at least the first half of the nineteenth century until gradually the quality of the staff available to work in the asylums as keepers and the conditions in which they worked improved.

The plan itself had an octagonal tower at its hub within which were the apartments of the superintendent and other ancillary offices. From this radiated four wings which contained the patients’ accommodation. This comprised single rooms to one side of the wing accessed from a broad corridor which was to double as a day room. A stair gave access out into the airing court which was for exercise in fair weather.

As Stark had observed, the design also had potential for expansion, and it was not long before additions were being made at the outer ends of the wings. Eventually, however, it was realised that a new building on a new site was necessary and the asylum was replaced by Charles Wilson’s new asylum at Gartnavel in 1843. The old asylum found a new life as the new premises for Glasgow’s Town’s Hospital (see separate entry, under Glasgow).

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1892-3. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It remained in use as the city poorhouse until it was finally demolished at the turn of the twentieth century. By that time, as can be seen from the map above, the surrounding area was heavily built up, and was probably uncomfortably close to Buchanan Street Goods station.

MURRAY ROYAL HOSPITAL, PERTH   The Murray Royal Lunatic Asylum opened in 1827 and was designed by William Burn. In 1821 the Trustees of James Murray had sufficient funds to purchase the site and:

‘from the well known talents and professional eminence of W. Burn Esq. architect, that gentleman was consulted. In the year 1821 Burn furnished the plans of the building, having previously visited the principal asylums both in England and Scotland.’

Originally it had accommodation for 80 patients, officials and staff.

Main Building, Murray Royal Hospital, photographed in 2013 © Copyright Rob Burke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

‘The grounds are walled, for the purposes of security, privacy and restraint… there are smaller yards attached to the buildings for the use of patients whose state requires more careful surveillance. In the centre are the apartments of the Superintendent and Matron. Dining-rooms and Bedrooms are large, commodious and cheerful, and sufficiently secure to prevent escape but free from the gloomy appearance of confinement.’

In 1833 Burn added a wing to the north. In 1848 Pitcullen House (formerly Pitcullen Bank) was acquired and fitted up for ‘higher class’ patients. In 1864 the spiral stair was removed from the octagonal tower and a cupola placed on the roof. In the same year a house was built for the physician superintendent. A lodge was built at about the same time for the head male attendant.

In 1888 new infirmary wings were added to the rear of the main building. At the turn of he century two new villas and a chapel were built. The villas were designed by Maclaren and Mackay and have applied half‑timbering. They were completed in 1902. Between these was the chapel, a distinctive building on the site, the lower walls were constructed of whinstone rubble with red sandstone above. The rubble work on the tower is of an exaggerated random form and is capped by an octagonal cupola. It was designed by the physician superintendent Dr Urquhart, who maintained an interest in architecture.

Murray Royal © Copyright Lis Burke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence The chapel and flanking villas, photograph taken in 2005.  These buildings were empty and boarded up in 2013

Gilgal was opened in 1930, intended for voluntary patients. It was designed by Smart, Stewart and Mitchell of Perth. It is a surprisingly old-fashioned style, harking back to the Scottish Arts & Crafts manner of Robert Lorimer in the Edwardian era.

Gilgal Ward, Murray Royal Hospital, photographed in 2013 © Copyright Rob Burke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

In 1939 a new nurses’ home was opened to the west of the original block and stark by contrast (gentle Art Deco, according to John Gifford in the Pevsner Architectural Guide). It was also designed by Smart, Stewart and Mitchell.

Further additions were made in the 1960s and 1970s including a new recreation hall, kitchen and staff dining room and the Moredun Unit for geriatrics and a day hospital. Some of these buildings were demolished to make way for a new building in about 2012. This rendered all the old buildings on the site redundant and since then they have been boarded up and are now on the Buildings at Risk register. Masterplanning for the re-use and development of the surplus hospital buildings and land commenced in October 2013.  Three options for the development of the site were outlined in March 2014 which sought to retain the built heritage, with varying re-uses and new build elements, assessed by the masterplanners as being significant, namely the main block (with demolition of later wings) the chapel and Pitcullen House. [Sources:Tayside Health Board, Annual Reports and plans at the Hospital. Booklet on history of hospital : Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland; Pevsner Architectural Guides, Perth and Kinross, John Gifford, 2007]

BILBOHALL HOSPITAL   Elgin Pauper Lunatic Asylum was founded by the managers of Grays Hospital  c.1835 and was the earliest asylum built specifically for paupers in Scotland and indeed, the only pauper lunatic asylum built in Scotland before the Lunacy Act of 1857. This makes it particularly unfortunate that it is now almost impossible to see the original extent of the buildings, designed by Archibald Simpson. In the 1860s extensions by A. & W. Reid began to obscure Simpson’s asylum but now the whole has become lost amongst piece-meal modern additions, none of which has been sympathetic to the older blocks. A & W. Reid‘s extensions comprised a north and south wing each of two storeys and an extension of three storeys to the rear at the centre of the building. This last contained a new dining-hall and kitchen. 

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

A third storey was added to the wings in about the 1880s. [Sources: Elgin Local History Library, plans.]

CRICHTON ROYAL HOSPITAL, DUMFRIES   The oldest part of the main building was opened on Monday, 3 June 1839, designed by William Burn, and extended by William Lambie Moffatt in 1867‑71. The asylum was founded by the trustees of James Crichton, Physician to the Governor General of India who had amassed a large fortune. In 1809 he had purchased Friars Carse and married in the following year Elizabeth Grierson. He died in 1823 leaving no issue. The residue of his estate, after various legacies, was to be used for a charitable purpose chosen by his widow and approved of by her co‑trustees.

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

In 1829 Mrs Crichton made her first suggestion of founding a College but this scheme was abandoned. In 1833 she proposed founding and endowing a Lunatic Asylum in the neighbourhood of Dumfries. The new scheme was met with derision from the town’s people and with scathing attacks in the local press, calling the proposed building the ‘Crichton Foolery’. In the face of this opposition the necessary site was acquired of forty acres and William Burn was requested to submit plans, specifications and estimates in December 1834. Burn’s plan comprised a double Greek cross with wings radiating from two octagonal stair towers. It was a more ambitious version of his earlier Murray Royal Asylum at Perth, and was closely based on Watson and Pritchett’s published designs for the Wakefield Asylum. Insufficient funds to carry out the complete design led the trustees to decide to proceed with half of it with a view to completing the design when funds permitted.

Aerial photograph of the main building taken in 2011 by  RCAHMS Aerial Photograph

The foundation stone was laid at a private ceremony in June 1835. In March 1838 the building was almost completed and the appointment of the first superintendent was under consideration. Mrs Crichton recommended Dr W. A. F. Browne, who had been Medical Superintendent of Montrose Royal Asylum since 1834. Browne studied medicine at Edinburgh University after which he continued his studies on the continent, particularly in France, where he visited the asylums of Paris and studied under the leading psychiatric doctors of the age, Pinel and Esquirol. In 1837 he had published an influential series of lectures on ‘What Asylums Were, Are and Ought to Be’.

Under Browne’s management the asylum prospered and acquired the high reputation sustained by subsequent medical superintendents. The asylum buildings also expanded and included many buildings of great significance in asylum design. In 1841, shortly after the hospital had opened, a house was built for the superintendent by a local architect William M’Gowan. It was enlarged in 1888 by William Moir and is now known as Campbell House and used as office accommodation. One additional building on the site which was later demolished was the Southern Counties Asylum, built to accommodate paupers, Browne and the building committee visited and examined workhouses and asylums in England seeking for a model for the new building in 1848. The new building was built by the local man, M’Gowan, and opened in the following year. It was demolished gradually from 1914‑27.

Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The completion of Burn’s original scheme for the main building was carried out in 1867‑71 by William Lambie Moffatt. Due to the position of the Southern Counties Asylum there was insufficient space to build to Burn’s plan, and the Moffatt wing was truncated at the south end, where a new principal entrance was made with a recreation hall above. The need for a recreation hall was another reason for departing from Burn’s original design. The extension was later criticised by Easterbrook when he became Medical Superintendent:

It also utilised a considerable portion of the south or sunny aspect of a building intended primarily as a residence for patients, for the position of the Recreation Hall, which, never‑the‑less, would be occupied as a rule only at nights for dances and other evening entertainments, a mistake frequently perpetrated by architects of hospitals who are apt to subordinate their essentially utilitarian or intrinsic purpose to that of their appearance.

After the extension was completed Burn’s original turnpike stair at the centre of the octagonal tower was removed to create a light and airy octagonal hall rising through three storeys, with ornamental trellis work serving to restrain any patient with a desire to leap over the galleries. Further extensions were made to the main building of which the principals were a new lavish Dining‑hall by Sydney Mitchell & Wilson in 1903, and a new wing with board‑room by J. Flett, the clerk of works, in 1923.

One of the outstanding buildings on the site is the Crichton Memorial Church by Sydney Mitchell. Begun in 1888 as a memorial to Mrs Crichton as the foundress of the institution the design was long in the finishing. Even once the plans had been finalised there were many delays before the church was finally completed in 1897.

Drawing of the North elevation of the Crichton Memorial Church, from the collection of the RCAHMS
Detail of stained glass in the Crichton Memorial Church, by the Glass Stainers Company, perhaps by Oscar Paterson, from the collection of the RCAHMS 

The Farm Building, in 1990 was used as the Industrial Therapy Unit, was being constructed at the same time as the memorial church, designed by the clerk of works, John Davidson, it was modelled on the farm building at Woodilee Asylum at Lenzie, and on a farm steading on the Isle Estate, Kirkcudbright. The Farm building was begun in 1890 and nearing completion in 1892.

The Farm had been the first stage in a project to expand the asylum on modern lines with departments for the different classes of patients. A Laundry Annexe for female pauper patients was designed in 1895 by Sydney Mitchell, Johnston House. It was a lavish building and was soon adapted for other purposes. A Farm annexe, intended for the accommodation of male pauper patients working on the farm was begun in 1898 also by Sydney Mitchell, latterly known as Criffel View.

Johnstone House, from the collection of the RCAHMS

Carmont House and Rutherford House were designed by Mitchell as a male and female pauper infirmary or admission hospital. The plans were drawn up in 1899 and the villas opened in 1904. In March 1905 a deputation of the board with Sydney Mitchell visited asylums in Germany where the colony system was well established and in December visited Bangour and Kingseat asylums. In 1906 plans for four villas were drawn up; Annandale and Eskdale as closed villas and Browne and Dudgeon as hospital villas for so‑called second class patients. These were completed 1909‑10.

West elevation of design for Rutherford House by Sydney Mitchell, from the collection of the RCAHMS

In 1908 Dr Easterbrook took over as Physician Superintendent and his first task was to take stock of the buildings on the site. There were then sixteen houses in use, half of which were purchased properties. In 1910 he visited institutions, clinics and laboratories in Britain, Germany, Austria and France and in 1913 he went to America.

From 1910 work began on four more villas, two more closed villas for paupers, Maxwell House and Kirkcudbright House (the latter now known as Kindar, Merrick and Fleet) and two open villas for paupers, Galloway House and Wigtown House (the latter now Mochrum and Monreith).

Extract from a revised 2nd Edition OS map showing the development on the southern part of the site. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

After the war a nurses’ home was built, now Hestan House, built by James Flett, the clerk of works, and opened in 1924. In that year Flett also built the Hospice as a hospital villa for the 1st class patients (now known as Ettrick, Glencairn and Nithsdale). In 1930 the Hostel (now McCowan House), as a further nurses’ home and in 1932 he built Grierson House, as an observation villa.

The last major building on the site, championed by Easterbrook, opened in 1938; Easterbrook Hall was designed by Easterbrook with James Flett, in 1934 as a Central Therapeutical and Recreational building containing a variety of facilities for all the inmates including a small swimming pool. The buildings on the main site have a surprising unity considering the century over which they were built, achieved in the main by the unifying red sandstone. The later buildings were of flat roofed fireproof‑construction, in ashlar. [Sources: C. C. Easterbrook, The Chronicle of Crichton Royal (1833‑1936), Dumfries, 1940: G. B. Turner, The Chronicle of Crichton Royal 1937 ‑ 1971, Cumbria,1980 Dumfries and Galloway Health Board Archives, plans.]

GARTNAVEL ROYAL HOSPITAL, GREAT WESTERN ROAD   Built to replace William Stark’s asylum which had been steadily expanding since its construction in 1810. The new site was acquired in 1839 and the managers commissioned Charles Wilson to design a new asylum. The foundation stone was laid on 1 June 1842. The asylum was designed in two distinct parts connected by an imposing chapel and offices. The chapel was not built until the turn of the century, when Sir J. J. Burnet was employed to provide new plans. The East House was designed for lower class patients and the West House for high class patients. Separate airing grounds were provided for the lower and upper classes to the rear of each wing. 

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map surveyed in 1893-4. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The plan, which combined single rooms with wide corridors serving as day rooms with small wards, became the standard plan for subsequent asylums and was adopted by the Board of Lunacy for the early District Asylums. Wilson designed a large castellated Tudor style building mostly of two storeys, on an imposing sloping site. 

Gartnavel Royal Hospital, photographed in 2007. The original hospital on the expansive Gartnavel complex. Viewed over the rooftop of the ambulance depot. © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The hospital was designed to accommodate four hundred and twenty patients but the total capacity was raised to six hundred by 1847. On 22nd November 1877 a series of major additions were opened including a new dining and recreation hall, a separate dining room for private patients and a large general bathroom.The central chapel was finally built in 1904 to designs by J. J. Burnet.

In 1937, on 21 June, the new nurses’ home by Norman Dick was opened to accommodate one hundred nurses. Its striking design shows the influence of Dudok’s brick buildings. In 1959 a new two‑storey extension, Henderson House was opened on 11 December, which provided 80 beds and relieved some of the overcrowding at the hospital. In 1970 a new industrial and occupational therapy unit was completed. Two years later a new 25‑place day hospital was opened and work began on a new 60‑bed psycho‑geriatric unit.

The hospital underwent several changes of name from the Glasgow Royal Asylum for Lunatics, which it adopted on being granted a Royal Charter in 1824, to the Glasgow Royal Mental Hospital, in 1931, until it adopted its present {1990} name in 1963. [Sources: RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, drawings collection.]

STRATHMARTINE HOSPITAL The principal buildings were designed by James Maclaren & Son to replace the earlier hospital. The foundation stone was laid on 13 June 1900.

The unlabelled buildings on the right-hand side of the map are the 1900 buildings by James Maclaren. Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1900. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Formerly called the Baldovan Institution it was founded by Sir John and Lady Jane Ogilvie in 1852 and constituted the first serious attempt to do something for imbecile children in Scotland. It was the second such institution to be founded in Britain and the first in Scotland. Sr John and Lady Jane had a mentally handicapped child whom they had admitted to the Abendberg in Switzerland, a colony for the care of defectives founded by Dr Guggenbuhl. The patients were given various stimuli, frequent baths and massage and encouraged to taken exercise in the open air. It was the Abendberg which was the inspiration for Baldovan, and his approval of the plans was sought and given before work began.

Baldovan Orphanage and Asylum, from the Illustrated London News, 30 July 1853, p.68

In 1853 the foundation stone was laid for an institution that was part hospital, part orphanage and part school where ‘imbecile’ children could be educated and trained. It was designed by Coe and Goodwin and resembled an English Tudor style domestic house, built of rubble stone with Caen stone dressings, the roof covered in red and black tiles. A brass plaque over the foundation stone recorded the names of those involved, the Ogilvies, the architects and the builders (‘Charles and Alexander Cunningham, of this parish’).

Inside, the front part of the building housed the matron’s apartment, a large gymnasium and separate classrooms for girls and boys. Behind were the kitchen and dining-rooms and lavatories. the upper floor had four ‘large and lofty’ dormitories and six smaller bedrooms for boarders ‘with baths and every possible convenience’. There were also bedrooms for the matron and domestic staff.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1921. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Sir John Ogilvy died in 1890, and the institution that he co-founded with his wife had the dubious honour of being mentioned in a poem by William McGonagall, mourning Sir John’s demise: ‘He was a public benefactor in many ways,/Especially in erecting an asylum for imbecile children to spend their days;/Then he handed over the institution over as free -/As a free gift and a boon to the people of Dundee.’

The success of the hospital led to a new building on a site to the north at the turn of the century designed by James Maclaren. Following the Mental Deficiency (Scotland) Act of 1913 further expansion occurred with the construction of a recreation hall, and more accommodation for children and staff.

Aerial photograph of the site taken in 2002 by RCAHMS Aerial Photography

The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and continued to expand. In the 1960s further extensions were built. The hospital was decommissioned in stages from the mid 1980s, closing completely in 2003. The hospital site was sold to a property development company, Heathfield Limited, in May 2005. No redevelopment took  place and the buildings were placed on the Buildings at Risk register around 2009. [Sources: 8th Annual Report of the Board of Supervision for the Relief of the Poor in Scotland 1853,  Alan Heaton-Ward Left Behind: A Study of Mental Handicap, 1978, pp.49-50, 53: The Builder, 7 July 1900, p.16; Buildings at Risk register ]

SUNNYSIDE ROYAL HOSPITAL, MONTROSE   The principal building on the site was built in 1855‑57 by William Lambie Moffatt. It replaced the earlier Montrose Lunatic Asylum of 1781, the first of its kind in Scotland (see separate entry).

Extract of the first edition OS Map, surveyed in 1862, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Moffatt’s new building cost £27,513 7s 5d. It was designed in the Tudor style he often adopted, of three storeys and relates closely to his poorhouse designs.

Principal range, photographed 2001 by RCAHMS

For the first few years the old asylum in the town was retained and following the Scottish Lunacy Act of 1857 many more pauper lunatics were admitted as there was no District Asylum. There were various alterations and additions made to the main building including a new dining and recreation hall. Of the separate buildings added to the site the first of importance was the hospital block designed by Sydney Mitchell & Wilson in 1888. A competition had been held for the design and the opinions sought of H. Saxon Snell & Son, the London‑based architectural practice best known in the field of hospital design at that time. The hospital was a single storey block to the south‑west of the main building. In 1896 work was being carried out on a new house for private patients, the designs for this were prepared by William Kelly of Aberdeen, like Sydney Mitchell, he was well established in the field of hospital design. Carnegie House, as the new block was named, was built on the same philosophy as Craighouse in Edinburgh, that surroundings contributed to cure.

Hospital block, 1888-91, by Sidney Mitchell & Wilson, photographed by RCAHMS in 2001

Carnegie Lodge was built by W. C. Orkney in 1900.

Carnegie Lodge in 1975-6, photographed in 1975-6 in the collection of the RCAHMS

A further two villas were built, Howden villa, to the rear of the main building, was designed by a local architect John Sim, and North Esk villa, built in 1902 to the north‑east of the main building.

North Esk Villa, photographed by RCAHMS in 2001

North Esk Villa has a bold gabled elevation with a particularly distinctive window design. The first and second floor windows are set in panels which rise to blind‑pointed arches. In 1935 a large nurses’ home was opened to the south of the site set down the hillside so as not to disrupt the view from the patients’ accommodation.

Nurses Home, photographed in 2001 by RCAHMS

In the following year work began on a butterfly‑plan block for the elderly, built by the clerk of works, George Easton. It was completed in 1939 as Angus House. In 1971 a new occupational and industrial therapy unit was opened. The hospital officially closed in 2011, with patients being moved to the Susan Carnegie Centre built at Stracathro Hospital. Since 2009 Sunnyside has been on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland. [Sources: The Builder, 3 July 1886, p.37: Tayside Health Board, Annual Reports and some plans at the Hospital.]


Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1859. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL HOSPITAL, LARBERT (demolished)   The hospital was founded by the Society for the Education of Imbecile Youth in Scotland. It was designed to be both a school and a home, especially adapted for the ‘education and industrial training and general amelioration of mental and bodily states of young persons afflicted with impaired mental powers’. It was designed by Frederick Pilkington and has many familiar details of his style. The site was acquired in 1861 and the building was in course of erection by January 1862.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1895-6. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Pilkington was an English architect, from Yorkshire, who had moved to Edinburgh and was principally connected with church designs. In 1863 he was in mid‑ career and this seems to be the only hospital he designed. The building has a monumental quality in its heavy forms, the surface texture full of contrasts from the rough faced masonry to the intricately carved capitals. In the 5th Annual Report of the Institution published in 1866 the Director noted the principals of design applied to the buildings.

‘When the plan of the present buildings was first agreed on it was thought desirable as much as possible to preserve a feeling of family life throughout the whole arrangements. It was therefore resolved that … it should be composed of 5 distinct buildings, each having a separate organization so far as custody and training of the inmates was concerned, but the whole being treated as one, in culinary and other economic arrangements.’

It was gradually extended; a lodge was built in 1877 and a hospital wing to the rear. In 1900 a new recreation hall opened but the main transformation of the site took place in the 1960s when a series of villas and other new buildings were built to the rear. The original building was vacant in 1989.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1942-3. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In the 1920s the scope of the hospital increased when the Larbert House site was developed. The new villas planned as a colony were opened in 1922, built to the designs of James Miller.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1942-3. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Extract from the 6-inch OS map, published in 1956. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Larbert House itself was adapted as patient accommodation. The mansion house had at its core a late Georgian house to which was added a new front in the later‑nineteenth century and extravagant porte‑cochere and balustraded tower. There was also an elegant conservatory to the rear. There were still, in 1990, some fine interiors with a walnut panelled room, fine over‑mantels and plasterwork. Closure in 2002, followed by a fire in 2006, left the building a roofless ruin. It has since been rebuilt and the grounds being redeveloped by local developer Grant Keenan. [Sources: Glasgow Herald, 13 Sept. 1935, p.6: T. M. Jeffery, ‘Life and Works of F. T. Pilkington’, unpublished thesis, Newcastle School of Architecture.]

MURTHLY HOSPITAL   Built as the Perth District Asylum, it was designed by Edward & Robertson, of Dundee and opened in 1864. It was the second district asylum to open in Scotland. Five architects submitted plans from which the Dundee architects were chosen. David Smart designed the Italianate administration block at the centre.

South front of Murthly Hospital south front photographed in 2001 © RCAHMS ref SC 785510

In 1885 a cottage hospital was added on the site which later became the nurses’ home. In 1894 two villas were built which were an early attempt at providing accommodation for pauper patients on the colony system. They were named after the pioneers in psychiatry Pinel and Tuke. The hospital closed in 1984. (largely demolished after 2001)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. In 1927 a large new recreation hall was provided, designed to blend in with the original building but constructed from pre‑cast concrete. 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 last major building scheme was the construction of a chapel which was dedicated in 1963. The chapel is very simple in design, and owes its origin to plain seventeenth‑ and eighteenth‑century kirks, indeed its birdcage bellcote could have come from such a kirk. [Sources: The Builder, 6 Aug. 1859, p.527: Architect & Building News, 8 April 1932, p.56: Highland Health Board Archives, Booklet on hospital. ]

HERDMANDFLAT HOSPITAL, HADDINGTON, EAST LOTHIAN   Built as the Haddington District Asylum by Peddie & Kinnear c.1860. The original asylum building is to the north of the site with central administration, kitchen and recreation hall flanked by wings for patient accommodation. [Sources:RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, drawings collection.]

LADYSBRIDGE HOSPITAL, BANFF   Built as Banff District Asylum, Ladysbridge Hospital was designed by the Elgin architectsA. & W. Reid, and opened on 6 May 1865. Originally it consisted of the one main block to the south of the present site. Its combination of the H‑plan and Tudor‑style, gabled front elevation tend to give it the air of the contemporary poorhouses.  A separate villa for male patients was designed by W. & J. Smith and Kelly and opened in 1903.

Extract from the first-edition OS map, surveyed in 1866. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1902. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The main transformation of the site took place in the 1960s when a new central section with recreation hall, dining‑room, shop and tearoom were built, situated up the hill behind the original block and surrounded by new villas. A sculpture group was erected in front of the new main building.

Aerial photograph of the hospital taken in 2009 by RCAHMS

In May 2003 the hospital closed, and a redevelopment brief was drawn up for the site in 2005, revised two years later. Redevelopment as a large housing scheme took place under the name Ladysbridge Village. The original main building, which was listed in 1990, has been converted into terraced houses and named Ladysbridge House. [Sources: planning brief at ; Ladysbridge Village website]

STRATHEDEN HOSPITAL, SPRINGFIELD   Stratheden Hospital was opened as Fife & Kinross District Asylum without ceremony on 4 July 1866 for 200 hundred pauper lunatics, the Fife Herald noted that the first patient to be admitted was a woman ‘who stared considerably at the sight of the palatial display and who had ultimately to be forcibly introduced to a home in everything but name’. Peddie and Kinnear, the Edinburgh architects, were appointed to design the new asylum in 1861 but progress was delayed by the interference of Lord Kinnoul whose amendment to the Lunacy (Scotland) Act allowed pauper lunatics to be accommodated in poorhouses. He was energetic in lobbying the Lunacy Board in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding until the amendment act was passed in 1863. However, the accommodation for lunatics generally provided in poorhouses was unsuitable and insufficient. As soon as Stratheden was completed the commissioners in Lunacy withdrew the licence to keep lunatics in Dunfermline Poorhouse. 

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1893, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The asylum was described in the Commissioners in Lunacy’s annual reports as being of ‘plain and economical construction’ with a separate house for the Medical Superintendent and a porter’s lodge. In 1865 it was noted that:

the whole of the main building is roofed in excepting the centre block, containing the dining‑hall, amusement room, etc, the roof of which has been delayed in consequence of the iron beams required for its support having been lost at sea.

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

Amongst later additions, a hospital block was added by Kinnear and Peddie in 1891 and a large new nurses’ home, designed by Andrew Haxton was built in 1929. [Sources: Commissioners in Lunacy, Annual Report, 1865 ]

BELLSDYKE HOSPITAL, LARBERT (demolished)  The former Stirling District Asylum, Bellsdyke Hospital originally opened in 1869 on a site adjacent to the Royal Scottish National Hospital which had itself recently opened. It served the counties of Stirling, Dumbarton, Linlithgow and Clackmannan. The original design was by William Stirling III, but he died before work was completed, so the plans were seen through by James Brown.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1895-6. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Groome’s Gazetteer described the asylum as of ‘mixed Scottish Baronial style and Italian’ …  with two long verandas and two towers 90′ high at the back of these wings…all the cooking is done by gas and hot pipes were laid for the warming of the air during cold weather.’

In 1893 a separate hospital block was added to designs by A. & W. Black, who also rebuilt the original building and went on to design a large nurses’ home, built in 1907, and a reception hospital in 1914.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1943. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
As above, but showing the EMS hospital blocks. Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1913. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

A large EMS hutted hospital was added c.1939 to the south-west of the site. The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and continued to function as a large mental hospital, latterly administered by Lanarkshire Health Board. [Sources: Francis H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer – Scotland, Edinburgh, 1892]

AILSA HOSPITAL, AYR   Aisla Hospital was originally built as Ayrshire District Asylum. A competition was held for the design which was won by the Dundee architects Edward and Robertson. The present main block represents the original building, with many later alterations and extensions. The asylum was built to accommodate 230 patients at a cost of £30,000 and opened on 28 July 1869.  In 1879 two, two-storey ward wings of 56 beds were added and in 1886 the original recreation hall at the centre of the building to the rear, was extended to the south. In 1894 the east and west wings were extended again and a separate fever hospital opened.

2nd edition OS map, revised in 1895. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Two villas were constructed in the grounds of the asylum in 1899, Alton and Albany House. One was for male and the other for female patients.

Ailsa Hospital photographed in 2008. The building to the left is one of the villas built in 1899, © Copyright Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The separate hospital block to the north-east was added in 1904-6 which provided 132 beds. It was designed by J. B. Wilson, on the pavilion plan, although the central pair of pavilions contained double wards, separated by a spine wall. The main building contractor for the mason and brickwork was D. Kirkland of Ayr, the other tradesmen were McLeod & Son, Dumbarton, wright; Auld & Sons, Ayr, plumbers and plasterers; P. & W. McLellan Ltd, Glasgow for the steel work;, Kean and Wardrop, Glasgow, tilers; Willock & Son, Ayr, painters, and J. Gibbons of Wolverhampton, ironmonger.

2nd edition OS map, revised in 1908. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

This addition was in keeping with contemporary developments in asylum planning exemplified by such new asylums as Gartloch, on the eastern fringe of Glasgow, with its separate hospital section. Such developments quickly filtered through to the older asylums. The hospital block at the Ayrshire Asylum was built during Dr Charles Easterbrook’s term there as Medical Superintendent from 1902-7, after which he went on to the Crichton Royal.

In 1958 the asylum adopted the name of Ailsa Hospital and ten years later Glengall House was converted for use as a short term Neurosis Unit and renamed ‘Loudon House’. [Sources: Ayrshire and Arran Health Board: plans: Building News, Sept 1905: The British Architect, 11 Nov 1904, p.ix]

DINGLETON HOSPITAL, MELROSE   Built as the Roxburgh, Berwick & Selkirk District Asylum, it was begun in 1869 and was designed by Brown & Wardrop to accommodate 124 patients.

Melrose Golf Course, looking across to the former Dingleton Hospital, photographed in 2008  © Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The asylum opened in May 1872, replacing a private asylum at Milholme, near Musselburgh, which had been licensed for pauper lunatics on a temporary basis until the new District Asylum was built.

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

In 1898 a new female hospital block was added and in 1900 a new laundry was provided. Two new wings were built in 1905‑6 designed by Sydney Mitchell and Wilson.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map revised 1918-19, showing the later additions to the asylum. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

A new Nurses home was constructed in 1955. The hospital closed in 2001, and the following year planning permission was granted for conversion into flats. {Previously I had erroneously attributed Dingleton Hospital to Peddie & Kinnear, they may have been unsuccessful competition entrants.} [Sources: Galashiels Local History Library/R21/31.4; booklet on centenary of the hospital, ‘Dingleton 1872‑1972’ ]

KIRKLANDS HOSPITAL, FALLSIDE ROAD, BOTHWELL   A new purpose‑built hospital for the mentally handicapped built on the site of the former Kirklands Asylum. The building, completed c.1990 to designs by Robert Watt Young Dobie for the Common Services Agency, ingeniously incorporates details from the original buildings.

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

Kirklands was built as a private asylum in 1870-1 to designs by Thomas Halket of Glasgow, on a site opposite the earlier establishment of Longdales Lunatic Asylum (see below). It was established by Dr Fairless for the middle classes, and designed to accommodate between 100 and 120 patients.  When first built it was described as having an imposing character, commanding agreeable prospects. It had a frontage of over 300 ft and of three storeys. Behind the outer wings contained the patients’ accommodation (males to the west, females to the east), and the residence of the proprietor, Dr Fairless, was in the centre wing. Patients had single rooms (9 or 10ft square) off a 7 ft-wide corridor used as a day room or for exercise, and with sitting rooms on the second floor. Wood-lined ‘strong rooms’ were provided for noisy patients at the ends of the wings. Earth closets ‘after Colonel Baird’s patent’ were installed. There was also a top-lit chapel on the third floor.

Kirklands Asylum was bought by the newly created Glasgow District Board of Lunacy in 1879. It was then enlarged and refurbished, Mr Broomhead, a local architect, designing Gothic additions. It re-opened as a District Asylum in April 1881 with accommodation for 200 patients. [Sources: The Architect, 18 Feb 1871, p.95: Glasgow Herald, 9 Feb 1871, p.4]

ROSSLYNLEE HOSPITAL, ROSSLYN   Built as the District Asylum for Midlothian and Peebles by William Lambie Moffatt, Rosslynlee Hospital opened in 1874. The original block was designed on an E‑plan of two storeys. Two wings were added in 1898 by R. Rowand Anderson.

Day Hospital photographed in 2002 by RCAHMS

WOODILEE HOSPITAL, LENZIE (demolished)   Woodilee Hospital was originally built as the Barony Parochial Asylum to designs by James Salmon & Son in 1871‑5. Serving the same purpose as a District Asylum but administered by the parish authority, it represents the final development of the lunatic wards provided in the poorhouse. This was the first pauper asylum built by a Parochial Board on such a large scale and completely removed from the poorhouse.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS Map revised in 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The oldest section of the hospital was under threat of demolition in 1990. Indeed, much of it has already been demolished following two serious fires. This resulted in the loss of the fine recreation hall. It was a major landmark on the Glasgow to Edinburgh railway line. Its central feature being the twin towers above the recreation hall, and the simple gothic chapel with a steep pitched roof and delicate French gothic spire to the south. Much of the detail of the centre buildings and the ward blocks is Jacobean with shaped gables, diminutive onion domes and mullioned and transomed windows. The two towers rose in bold square section and were capped by balustrades enclosing a very elongated domed cupola. The scale was very impressive, particularly of the vast recreation hall.

Aerial photograph of the site of Woodilee Hospital taken by RCAHMS in 2001. Most of the main building had been demolished, but two stretches of the link corridor remained and the chapel.

Woodilee was one of the asylums described by Sir John Sibbald, Commissioner in Lunacy, in his paper of 1897 ‘On the plans of Modern Asylums for the Insane Poor’. He chose Woodilee to illustrate the type of plan evolved by the 1870s which marked a departure from the previous Gartnavel model. Here the patients’ accommodation was broken up into smaller units and the classification of the patients carried through into the architecture more thoroughly than before. In this way the wings for hospital and observation wards were quite distinctive from the ordinary patients accommodation and day‑rooms were all placed on the ground floor reserving the upper floor for sleeping quarters. The day‑rooms themselves were much more comfortably arranged, resembling drawing rooms instead of the long galleries of Gartnavel. They also looked onto the gardens and made access out of doors easier. Walled airing courts were also done away with.

This photograph from the James Salmon Collection at RCAHMS  is labelled ‘rear elevation of Woodliee

In 1898 enlargements were carried out after the City and Barony Parishes of Glasgow were amalgamated. Other extensions and additions included the farm buildings and a nurses’ home which was later extended in 1939. A villa for children was added in 1900 and in 1939 a new reception house and sanatorium, operating theatre, dental surgery and laboratory were constructed.

Aero Pictoral photograph of the south-western section of Woodilee Hospital taken in 1953, from RCAHMS

[Sources: Greater Glasgow Health Board, Woodilee Hospital Building Department, plans.]

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.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It closed in 1975 and patients were transferred to Dykebar. The buildings were demolished to make way for the new Royal Alexandra Hospital.

RAVENSCRAIG HOSPITAL, GREENOCK   Designed by John Starforth in 1876 as the Greenock Poorhouse and Parochial Asylum, it was later known as the Smithston Institution. It replaced a succession of buildings which the parish had employed since 1821, including a purpose-built poorhouse and asylum in Captain Street that was barely thirty years old. The large and imposing range of buildings in strong red sandstone were composed in three sections, for lunatics, ordinary paupers and a hospital section.

The plan is similar to Govan Poorhouse (now Southern General Hospital, Glasgow) and Craiglockhart Poorhouse in Edinburgh. The dining‑halls for the asylum section and the poorhouse section were economically designed, back‑to‑back with shared kitchen facilities adjoining.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The foundation stone of the new buildings at Smithston was laid in September 1876 by the Earl of Mar and Kellie. It opened in March 1879 and had cost £122,904, to provide accommodation for 750 inmates. There was a considerable public out‑cry at the large sum expended of rate‑payers money. During the Second World War the hospital was requisitioned by the Admiralty and the patients were re‑located to Dykebar, Gartloch, Larbert and Cunninghame Home, Irvine. Various additions were made including the occupational therapy department in 1951, an out‑patients’ department and the first day hospital for psychiatric patients in Scotland. (see also

ROYAL DUNDEE LIFF HOSPITAL   The principal building at the present {1990} hospital was built in 1877‑ 82, an imposing, symmetrical Baronial block by Edward and Robertson.

“Westgreen Asylum, Liff, 1897” by Directors of Westgreen Asylum – Annual Report of Directors of Westgreen Asylum, 1897. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

It was built to replace the former Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum building in the town (see separate entry), and was popularly known as the Westgreen Asylum, after its location. The year after the first section of this building was opened the managers of the asylum encountered serious financial difficulties. The Westgreen buildings had been designed as a pauper asylum and a separate section for private patients was planned but had to be postponed. Westgreen therefore had to be adapted to accommodate all classes of patients. Half of the accommodation for paupers had to be given over to private patients and the recreation hall was partitioned off to provide extra dormitory space. When it opened the visiting Commissioners in Lunacy found the wards bare, cold and comfortless, with scanty furnishings.

Aerial photograph taken by RCAHMS in 2001

Eventually, in 1898, T. S. Robertson of Dundee produced plans for the delayed private patients block which was built in 1901, now Gowrie House. This is a much richer building with some good plaster work and wood panelling inside.

HOUSE OF DAVIOT, INVERURIE   The House of Daviot was acquired by Aberdeen’s Royal Cornhill Asylum in 1888. On the site were the two mansion houses of Old and New Glack. The Old House of Glack dates from 1723 and was converted into nurses’ accommodation when it was acquired by the Hospital. It is a dignified three‑storey, five‑bay harled house. In about 1780 the estate was bought by the Reverend Colin Mackenzie, who was reputedly the first person to recognize the therapeutic properties of the mineral springs at Strathpeffer. It was his grandson who built the New House of Glack.

Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1867. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1899. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

This boldly baronial mansion was of recent construction when it was acquired by the Aberdeen Royal Asylum, having only been built in 1876. It was designed by James Matthews and it was his firm of Matthews & Mackenzie carried out the conversion into hospital accommodation. It is a large mansion house with some fine interiors, including plaster ceilings, wood panelling and chimney-pieces as well as a good collection of furniture. There is a fine steading on the estate and in 1935 a butterfly‑plan male hospital block was built, designed by George Bennett Mitchell.

The hospital closed in 1994, and after a period of disuse the buildings on the site were converted into housing in 2005. The New House of Glack, renamed House of Daviot, has been converted  into four dwellings. The 1930s male patients’ villa was renamed Craigshannoch Mansion. [Sources: Aberdeen Royal Mental Hospital prospectus on Daviot Village website; Aberdeen Press & Journal, 22 July 2014, article on sale of No.1, House of Daviot.]

ROYAL EDINBURGH HOSPITAL, THOMAS CLOUSTON CLINIC, CRAIGHOUSE, CRAIGHOUSE ROAD Old Craighouse dates from 1565, the date appearing over the original entrance doorway. Macgibbon and Ross noted that the house appeared to have been built by the Symsones. A new wing was added in 1746. In 1877 Craighouse estate was purchased by the Royal Edinburgh Asylum and adapted for the accommodation of higher class patients.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS Map revised 1893. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

From 1889 to 1894 work on the new buildings was carried out to designs by Sydney Mitchell, these comprised the New Craighouse, East and West Hospital blocks, Queen’s Craig, South Craig and Bevan House. Dr Thomas Clouston was the key figure in the development of Craighouse. He had been appointed as Physician Superintendent to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum in 1873 and in his first Annual Report commented on the state of the buildings:

Aerial photograph taken by RCAHMS in 2015 of Old Craighouse (top right) and New Craighouse.

As regards our structural arrangements we are undoubtedly behindhand somewhat. We need more accommodation for those who wish the benefits of the institution and can pay high boards… we should be prepared to extend our benefits to the wealthiest …our poorhouses are palatial buildings and in the new asylums for paupers through the country no expense has been spared to make them cheerful and comfortable.

Once Clouston had established patients at Old Craighouse in 1878 he began planning the development of the site in a new and bold way:

Craighouse site affords ample room for many villas of various kinds, surrounding a central block for recent acute cases, kitchens, dining and public rooms. In the construction of these a principle might be adopted which has never yet been fully carried out in asylums, viz of adaptation of each house or part of house to the varied needs and mental conditions of its inhabitants … an asylum so constructed should contain all the medical appliances that would be likely to do good, it should have a billiard room, gymnasium, swimming‑bath and work rooms.

The scheme was long in the forming, in the Annual Report for 1885 Clouston comments that he has been devoting his attention to the principles of construction of hospitals for the better classes of the insane in the last years. He had visited asylums in America and other parts of Britain. In particular the Royal Asylums at Montrose, Dundee, Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries and in England the asylums at Northampton, Cheadle, Gloucester and St Ann’s Health Registered Hospital, the Bethlem Royal Hospital and two private asylums in London. By 1887 Sydney Mitchell had been appointed as architect. Work began in 1889 and the foundation stone of New Craighouse was laid on 16 July 1890 by the Earl of Stair. The scheme comprised five principal buildings. The main building or New Craighouse was situated to the west of Old Craighouse and further west again was the west hospital block, Queen’s Craig. To the south of these were the East Hospital, Bevan House and South Craig. New Craighouse was formally opened on 26 October 1894 by the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. South Craig Villa, Bevan House and the Ladies Hospital had already been occupied for some time. The achievement was phenomenal, and on such a vast scale that it remains unrivalled in hospital architecture in Scotland. Variety was the key to the design, variety of style, colour and texture achieved through the finishes, the materials, the varied roof line and every conceivable means. Inside it was sumptuously furnished and fitted up. After 1972 the buildings became the Thomas Clouston Clinic, named after the individual whose personal ideals were embodied in the site. [Sources: Lothian Health Board Archives, Annual Reports of Royal Edinburgh Hospital: RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, drawings collection: The Builder, 7 Jan. 1888, p.16; 15 June 1889, p.442; 10 March, 1894, p.203.]

HARTWOOD HOSPITAL, SHOTTS (largely demolished) This vast complex, with its sister institution of Hartwood Hill, must have formed one of the largest hospital sites in Scotland. The main building, situated on rising ground with extensive views across the countryside, presented a muscular facade with its dominant twin towers and Baronial detail. These had a robustness quite different from the twin towers of Gartloch or Woodilee. The hospital was built as the District Asylum for Lanark, designed by J. L. Murray of Biggar, work began in 1890 and initially provided accommodation for 500 patients. In 1898 two large separate blocks were completed to the rear of the main building and linked to it by covered corridors which remain in much their original condition.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Hartwood Hospital, photographed in 2012 © Copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In 1906 the sanatorium was built with 26 beds for the isolation of TB patients. In 1916 a new admission hospital was completed and the imposing nurses’ home to the south was opened in 1931. The nurses’ home was particularly curious for its anachronistic style. Designed in 1926 by James Lochhead of Hamilton, it shared the spirit of the principal asylum block and was on a similar giant scale. It was of four stories on a U‑plan with Scottish baronial details and J. J. Burnet-style attic windows. The chief importance of this site lay in its layout and the architectural qualities of the buildings in relation to one another. It was one of the few Scottish asylums to approach an échelon plan, common in England at this time.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1910. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Extracts from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1940. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In about 1935 the Hartwood Hill site was developed to the north-east in response to the need for accommodation for adult mentally handicapped and the passing of the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. The buildings were designed by James Lochhead on the colony system, after the model of Gogarburn Institution by Edinburgh and demonstrates the interest in functional but simple, strikingly designed buildings at that date. Despite a number of additions and alterations which do not always take account of the character of the individual blocks the overall effect of this complex was very good.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, surveyed in 1940. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The hospital closed in 1998. Lanarkshire Television used a part of the buildings as a studio for a few years, but after that the buildings were abandoned and fell prey to vandalism. A major fire caused serious damage in 2004 and more recently in 2016. A playground latterly for urbexers there are many photographs of the derelict buildings to be found on the net. [Sources: Hamilton Advertiser, 18 May 1895; Evening Citizen, 14 May 1895; Scotsman, 15 May 1895; Lanarkshire Health Board, Hartwood Hospital, Minutes from 1883; Beckford St, Annual Reports Mental Hospitals Board, 1930s.]

LEVERNDALE HOSPITAL, CROOKSTON ROAD   Originally Govan District Asylum and later known as Hawkhead Asylum this large hospital finally changed its name to Leverndale.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1895. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.
Apartments, Leverndale Hospital. Some of the old hospital have been sympathetically converted and some new buildings added, making up a residential estate. The water tower can be seen behind this fine building. Photographed in 2011 by W. F. Millar  © Copyright wfmillar and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Leverndale Hospital photographed in the late 1980s. © H Richardson

It was begun in 1893 to designs by Malcolm Stark. Until 1888 the Govan area had come under the Lunacy Districts of Glasgow and Renfrewshire, but Govan Parochial Board requested that there be a separate Lunacy District for Govan. This was created by the General Board of Lunacy in 1888. The site of Hawkhead was purchased in c.1889 and eight local architects requested to submit plans for a 400‑bed asylum, with an administrative section suitable for an extended asylum of 600 hundred beds. Malcolm Stark won the competition in February 1890 although the location on the site for the buildings was not decided on until six months later. The foundation stone was laid on 3 October 1893 and the first patients admitted in September 1895, with the formal opening taking place on 23 January 1896.

Villa at Leverndale Hospital photographed in the late 1980s. © H Richardson

The hospital follows the same basic plan as Gartloch which shortly predates Leverndale, with its division into separate hospital and asylum sections. The asylum section, situated on the highest part of the estate, is dominated by the Italianate water‑ tower and the buttressed recreation hall. It is flanked by the patients’ pavilions and to the rear is the administration building, its two bold turrets overpowering the elevation. In 1908 two single‑storey pavilions for 60 patients each were built flanking the administration block and two three‑storey villas for staff accommodation, each with 20 bedrooms and a recreation room. The Hospital section is situated to the south‑east and was extended to the south c.1930, though sadly derelict in the late 1980s.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1934. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Leverndale Hospital in the 1980s. This was an addition to the hospital section. © H Richardson

In the 1920s a further development on the site below the main buildings, near the entrance gates, was built. In around 1972 new units for psycho‑geriatric patients were begun on ground immediately below the main range. During the 1980s the former farm steading and the Medical Superintendent’s House were demolished. [Sources: The Builder, 28 Sept. 1895, p.224: Building News, 7 Feb. 1890, p.294: Greater Glasgow Health Board Archives, plans.]

GARTLOCH HOSPITAL    Designed by Thomson and Sandilands in 1889, as the City of Glasgow District Asylum for pauper lunatics. Its notable Beaux‑Arts feature of formal planning was ideally suited to such a complex institution.

The former Gartloch Mental Hospital, photographed by Chris Upson in 2006  © Copyright Chris Upson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The inaugural meeting of the District Lunacy Board was held in August 1888 and the site of Gartloch purchased in January the following year, a competition was held for the plans. The foundation stone was laid on 8 November 1892. It was planned to accommodate 570. As Woodilee marked the new developments of the 1870s so Gartloch marks the next stage in asylum design. The site falls into two halves with the largest section to the north‑east dominated by the imposing administration block with its splendid towers, a landmark visible from miles around. This forms the nucleus of the asylum section, a group of six tall, three‑storey buildings, including the four villas with link corridors, and gabled single storey ranges for workshops, kitchen, laundry and boiler house, all surviving in excellent condition. Indeed, with the demise of the core of Woodilee, Gartloch was, in 1990, the best preserved of the great Glasgow asylums.

By 2010 the main building had gravely deteriorated, as can be seen in this photograph taken by Stephen Sweeney in May that year.  © Copyright Stephen Sweeney and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The most important feature of the plan was the provision, in the southern half of the site, of a self‑contained hospital section. This innovative feature allowed for the treatment of patients from the asylum section whilst suffering from additional sickness and provided small isolation wards for infectious diseases. The Hospital section has a two‑storey, U‑plan block containing its administrative centre, across the green from the asylum section. Behind this is the single‑storey, H‑plan ward block with central kitchen and dining facilities. South‑facing verandas were provided to allow open‑air treatment. The first patients were admitted in December 1896 although the official opening took place six months later. The buildings form an impressive range, built in red sandstone the administration block is dominated by massive twin pinnacled towers as at Woodilee, but the style is altogether different, in the French Renaissance manner with rich carved details. The decorated, spikey dormer‑heads add particular verve to the appearance of the buildings.

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

A three‑storey nurses’ home was added to the south‑west which opened on 1 June 1900 providing sixty beds. It closely resembles the asylum villas in style with slightly less decorative detail. Further extensions were carried out including a 50 bed sanatorium which opened in December 1902 (now demolished) and in 1904 a farm workers block was completed (also now demolished), with a fine farm-steading now lying in derelict condition. In 1937‑9 a new Nurses’ Home was built on the western edge of the site, designed by Thomas Somers, the City Engineer. It is a strongly horizontal, streamlined building with boldly‑bowed day rooms on the ground floor. During the Second World War the patients were evacuated and the buildings converted into a casualty hospital under the Emergency Medical Scheme (EMS). EMS huts were built from which a 160‑bed medical unit was retained after the war and a nurses training school established in conjunction with it by 1955. The unit was given over to geriatric patients in 1968. [Sources: Greater Glasgow Health Board Archives, Annual Reports; The Builder, 16 Nov. 1889, p.356; 17 Sept. 1898, p.255; Building News, 15 Nov. 1889, p.682.]

KINGSEAT HOSPITAL, NEW MACHAR   This was the first mental hospital to open in Scotland designed on the Colony or Villa system, and was an excellent example of the type. Built as the District Asylum for Aberdeen, it opened on 16 May 1904, and was designed by A. Marshall Mackenzie.

Aerial photograph by RCAHMS taken in 2001

It was built when Royal Cornhill Asylum could no longer take such numbers of pauper lunatics. The site had been purchased in 1899 and a deputation of the building committee visited the continent in December 1899 to see asylum buildings there. The foundation stone was laid in September 1901 and the Aberdeen Daily Journal noted that:

‘The Parish Council of Aberdeen, after much consideration and inquiry, resolved to adopt a system, tried chiefly on the continent, by which fatuous and insane persons, instead of being crowded into one large building, are attended to in separate colonies under adequate oversight…The buildings are dotted in picturesque fashion over the area which is intersected by walks, margined by shrubs and broken up by trees.’

There were three sections to the Colony, the Administrative department, the Industrial Department and Villas and the Medical Section. The Administration Section comprised the Kitchen, Stores, Laundry, Steward’s House, Hall and Medical Superintendent’s House. The Industrial and Colony section comprised four villas for male and female patients and Workshops for the men. The villas were two storied with their own kitchens, dining‑rooms and bathrooms and sleeping accommodation on the first floor. The Medical Section had the Hospital building as its principal feature and also two observation villas. During the Second World War the Hospital was taken over by the Naval Authorities and after the War when it was returned to Aberdeen Corporation it remained empty for some years due to the difficulty of providing sufficient staff.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.06.48
OS 1:25,000 map published in 1957. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Although it was still a mental hospital in the 1980s, it closed in 1995. (Kingseat rehabilitation centre closing two years later in 1997.) Many of the buildings are on the Heritage at Risk register and are in a very poor state. [Sources: Aberdeen Daily Journal, 1901]

BANGOUR VILLAGE HOSPITAL, UPHALL, WEST LOTHIAN   Built as the Edinburgh District Asylum from 1898 to 1906, to designs by the well-known Edinburgh architect Hippolyte J. Blanc, Bangour was planned on the continental colony system as exemplified by the asylum at Alt Scherbitz near Leipzig, which had been built in the 1870s.

The Edinburgh District Asylum at Bangour was begun slightly before that at Aberdeen (later Kingseat Hospital), which was also built on a colony plan, making Bangour the first new asylum for paupers to be built on this system. (The Aberdeen District Asylum at Kingseat, though begun after Bangour, was completed two years earlier). A move towards a colony system had been made at some existing asylums in Scotland, notably the Crichton Royal at Dumfries, from about 1895. The distinguishing feature of the colony plan asylum was the detached villas to accommodate the patients which aimed to create a more homelike environment.

The competition held in 1898 for the new Edinburgh Asylum specified the continental form of plan. Bangour was designed as a self-contained village with its own water supply and reservoir, drainage system and fire fighting equipment. It could be self-sufficient by the industry of able patients.

Plan and elevation of the hospital block by Hippolyte J. Blanc,1906,  in the National Monuments Record for Scotland collection of the RCAHMS

The site was divided into two sections for the medical and non-medical patients, with power station, workshops, bakery, stores, kitchen and laundry in the middle. The patients’ villas housed from 25 to 40 patients each and varied from two to three storeys. On the ground floor were day-room, dining-rooms and a kitchen with separate dining-rooms for the nurses. The dormitories were located on the upper floors. Another important aspect of the colony system was the replacement of the large common dining halls with smaller dining-rooms within the villas. This was a feature of the Aberdeen Asylum at Kingseat as well as Bangour and the later Dykebar Asylum at Paisley.

The recreation hall, also designed by Blanc, contained a hall measuring 93 feet by 54 feet, with a stage at the north end. By incorporating a lattice steel girder support for the roof, there was no need to use pillars within the hall. There was even an orchestra pit in front of the footlights which was specially constructed to allow it to be covered at floor level when the hall was used for dances.

A church was added to the site in 1924-30 designed by H. O. Tarbolton. Set in a central position on the site and in a severe Romanesque style, it is one of the most impressive hospital churches in Scotland. The dark brown stone of the church contrasts strongly with the cream-painted villas near to it.

In 1931 the nurses’ home, with its two ogee-roofed octagonal central turrets, was extended by E. J. MacRae with a large new wing, blending sympathetically with the original block. [Sources: H. J. Blanc, ‘Bangour Village Asylum’ in Journal of the R.I.B.A., Vol.XV, No.10, 21 March 1908, p.309-26: Lancet, 13 Oct. 1906, p.1031]

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.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1910-11. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

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.

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1939-40. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

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.

STONEYETTS HOSPITAL, CHRYSTON   Glasgow Parish Council purchased part of the Woodilee estate  c.1910 on which to establish an epileptic colony. It was designed by Robert Tannock, and the foundation stone was laid on 23 May 1912. It was the first poor‑law epileptic colony in Scotland and indeed the only hospital in Scotland ever built specifically for people suffering from epilepsy. The patients were housed in six simple, single‑storey brick villas which accommodated 50 people each. Unlike the villas at asylums such as Bangour, where the villas were designed to have a definite domestic appearance, the villas at stoneyetts are more like ward pavilions, with simple swept gables. The two‑storey administration block is given a handsome Georgian appearance through its proportions, glazing pattern, and the delicate segmentally pedimented porch. The recreation hall has very bold shaped heads over the wide end gables and a cupola‑like ventilator. The baroque detailed door hood looks strangely out of place on the utilitarian porch. Stoneyetts opened on 6 June 1913, in the same year the Mental Deficiency Act was passed, empowering parish councils to provide separate accommodation for mental defectives previously housed in asylums or the poorhouse. Stoneyetts therefore became a certified institution for mental defectives until Lennox Castle Institution was opened. It then became a hospital for certified mental patients and re‑opened as such on 7 August 1937.

BIRKWOOD HOSPITAL, LESMAHAGOW   The older buildings on the estate of Birkwood House form an impressive group. Apart from the large mansion house there are gate lodges, two fine bridges and a walled garden. The house belongs to a group of Scottish country houses built in the nineteenth century which owe much to the designs and philosophy of country-house design developed by William Burn. The fine masonry details and handsome window designs are essential to the character of this house; inside some good nineteenth century details survive.

Extract from the 1st edition OS map surveyed in 1858. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

At the core of the mansion house there is a Georgian house, part of which can be distinguished to the rear of the present house. Major additions were carried out in 1858 by John Baird 1st and in 1890 a new wing was added by James Thomson of Glasgow which gives the house its present character. The extensions more than doubled the original accommodation and produced a Tudor Gothic mansion of generous proportions from the original modest classical house.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Birkwood House, photographed in 2011 by Terry Black, reproduced under creative commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The mansion house and estate of Birkwood were formerly owned by Mr W. A. S. MacKirdy, and were bought in 1923 for £10,000 by Lanarkshire County Council to be converted into an institution for juvenile mentally handicapped patients. At the auction of the MacKirdy household effects many items were purchased by the Council and mostly remain in the house today {1991}.

The house was converted into the institution by Alexander Cullen (junior) and it opened on 3 July 1923. Various blocks were built in the grounds including a school in 1926, and a new ward block in 1929 designed by James N. Gilmore. Further blocks were added in 1943 and 1958, and a new recreation hall in 1970. By then Birkwood Hospital had been transferred to the National Health Service.

Extract from the OS 1:25,000 map, 1955. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

It closed in 2005 and by 2011 the empty house was in very poor condition and placed on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland. It was acquired in 2014 for conversion into a hotel and apartments and buildings in the grounds cleared away, but in July 2015 part of the house collapsed.  [Sources: RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland: Annals of Lesmahagow: Western Daily Press,  8 August 2015 online]

GOGARBURN HOSPITAL, GLASGOW ROAD   Gogarburn House, dated 1893, designed by James Jerdan is situated to the west of the site, a cream‑harled Scots Renaissance style house with stone dressings. It was purchased by Edinburgh Corporation in c.1920 and used temporarily as a convalescent home for children. By 1924 female mental defectives were accommodated in the converted house and in the following year the stable block was adapted for male patients.

Aerial photograph of Gogarburn Hospital, taken in 2001 before redevelopment ©RCAHMS E 08408

The foundation stone of the new Gogarburn Hospital was laid in 1929 by the Duchess of York. The buildings were designed by Stewart Kaye on the colony system, by this time the established plan form for mental hospitals in Scotland. It comprised separate villas, administration and admission wards and a school as well as various ancillary buildings. The principal buildings seem rather dreary now, predominantly of a brown render with grey stone dressings, drowning the simplified classical detail. This seems a shame when it is an interesting hospital, the earliest use of the colony plan in a mental deficiency hospital and forming a contrast to the vast Lennox Castle Hospital, which was designed with less apparent sympathy for the patients.

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

Later additions were built by E. J. MacRae, including two villas for children in 1936. During the Second World War the Colony was incorporated in the Emergency Medical Scheme and in 1948 it was transferred to the National Health Service. A new children’s unit was added in 1970.

BROADFIELD HOSPITAL, PORT GLASGOW   Broadfield Hospital comprised two large houses on separate sites, Broadfield (demolished after the Second World War) and, further east, Broadstone Castle. The latter was designed by David Bryce, and was a good example of Bryce’s Baronial mansion houses.


Above is a photograph of the house taken by RCAHMS in 1989, and below is a detail of proposed entrance hall ceiling, with the initials HB, JB and armorial badges, signed ‘Thomas Bonnar & Son, Edinburgh’ 1900.


Situated on an elevated site high above the Clyde estuary. It was acquired as a mental institution in the 1920s by the Paisley and District Joint Committee, Broadfield became a boys home and Broadstone a home for girls.

Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1857. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised 1938. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1948 it was transferred to the National Health Service and continued to house the mentally handicapped until the hospital closed in 1985. In 2001 the house was sold and was to be the centrepiece of a housing development (Castle bank), but the house was gutted by fire in 2007. Despite a number of schemes being put forward to restore the building and convert it into flats, in 2014 it remained in a ruinous condition and is on the Register of Buildings at Risk for Scotland.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 21.37.18
Extract from the 1:25,000 OS map, published in 1958. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

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]

WELLWOOD UNIT, CULTS   Wellwood house was purchased by the Board of Management of the Royal Cornhill Hospital and opened in 1931 as a private psychiatric nursing home to provide early treatment for non‑certified patients suffering from psycho‑neurosis and psychosis.The House itself was built around 1840 and has an asymmetrical plan, its Jacobethan details forming a picturesque appearance in the wooded Deeside setting.Its conversion was carried out by T. F. Henderson.  In 1964 it was adapted as a rehabilitation centre for mentally handicapped patients. [Sources: Architect & Building News, July-Dec 1930 (2), p.161]

LENNOX CASTLE HOSPITAL, LENNOXTOWN   Lennox Castle, situated at the western edge of the hospital complex, was built between 1837 and 1841 to designs by David Hamilton. It was designed in a picturesque neo‑Norman style with castellated and battered walls, and an imposing porte‑cochere. There are some fine interiors on the principal floor but the building has suffered badly from subsidence. The external stonework is also in very poor condition near the ground and has been roughly patched up with concrete rendering.

Lennox Castle, before it became a roofless ruin, photographed by RCAHMS

In April 1925 Glasgow Parish Council resolved to build a new Mental Deficiency Institution under the provisions of the 1913 Act. In 1927 Lennox Castle and its vast estate were purchased, and plans prepared for what was to be the largest and best equipped hospital of this type in Britain. It was to provide 1,200 beds at a cost of 1.25 million. Work began in 1929 to designs by Wylie, Shanks & Wylie. The hospital was finally completed in 1936. The site was divided into five sections; a male division, a female division, a hospital section, married staff houses and the engine house. The male and female sections each consisted of ten dormitory blocks for 60 patients. These were split into two main wards with 28 beds and two side rooms with two beds, together with a day‑room and sanitary annexe. Meals were to be provided in two central dining‑halls capable of seating 600 patients each. Above the dining‑hall, accommodation was provided for unmarried male attendants.

Lennox Castle itself was adapted into a nurses’ home. There was also a central Assembly Hall for all the patients, it contained a large hall with a stage and equipment for cinema shows as well as some administrative offices. All the new blocks were built of brick and incorporated many innovative features, in particular the heating system which operated on a system of underground tunnels.

There is a considerable variety of plan and composition which add interest to the site. It is a scheme of high quality and the Assembly Hall and dining‑halls in particular deserve attention. Both make use of arched windows on the ground floor and each has a central bold entrance bay. On the Assembly hall this comprises a grand arch rising the full‑height of the building and framing the porch, and on the dining‑hall blocks the door is set into an arch, which in turn is in a tall gabled centrepiece. The varied roof-line also adds interest. The low pitch behind the parapet caps the two‑storey Assembly Hall block, while the steeply pitched roof, with first‑floor dormers, dominates the dining‑halls. A charming octagonal tea‑room in two tiers with plenty of windows, echoes the tea pavilion at Glen‑o‑Dee Hospital.

During the Second World War the hospital was incorporated in the Emergency Medical Scheme and hutted ward blocks were constructed near the Castle. A maternity unit was established at the site in 1941 which remained until 1964. [Sources: Glasgow Corporation, The Book of Lennox Castle, Glasgow, c.1936. Glasgow Herald, 15 May 1936, p.12; 29 Sept. 1936, (ill.): RCAHMS, Inventory, Stirling, Vol.2, p.358.]

WOODLANDS HOSPITAL, CULTS   Woodlands House, of about the 1860s, was purchased by Aberdeen Corporation in May 1947. Plans for alterations and additions were prepared by Charles Clark Wright in 1951.  It is a substantial but plain house given individuality by a corner drum tower with a decorative ironwork circlet. It was initially used as a home for 50 mentally handicapped children, opening in 1948 after having transferred to the National Health Service. It was the only institution of its type in the North-East region and was extended in 1952 (Rocklands Cottage, adapted for 12 boys) and 1954 (50-bed extension).

Rocklands Cottage was turned into a staff house in 1964 in which year plans for further extensions were agreed but delayed by a lack of funds. The plans were revised in 1969, but finally shelved with the move to care in the community. Instead a further revised scheme was drawn up to provide for those requiring total nursing. Phased construction from 1979 saw the opening of six 20-bed units in 1981, a new school in 1982 and phase three of the redevelopment completed in 1983. The house itself was converted for office accommodation. The hospital was declared surplus by 2003 and had closed by the end of 2004. The site has been redeveloped for housing. [Sources: The Builder, 27 July 1951, p.137: Grampian Health Board Archives]

CARSTAIRS, STATE HOSPITAL A secure psychiatric hospital, originally built in 1936-9, but its opening was deferred until 1948. Largely rebuilt in 2008-12 to designs by macmon. [Sources: Pevsner Architectural Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016.]

LYNEBANK HOSPITAL, DUNFERMLINE   This substantial post-war hospital was designed for the mentally handicapped by Alison Hutchison & Partners. It was built c.1965‑ 9. [Sources: Buildings of Scotland, Fife, 1988, p.190 .]

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

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]

MIDPARK HOSPITAL, DUMFRIES Opened in 2012 as an acute mental health unit, replacing the Crichton Royal Hospital.

RCAHMS aerial photograph taken in 2014

The architects were Ingenium Archial Ltd, with WSP and Arups engineers and erz Ltd of Glasgow, landscape architects. The entrance garden ‘DoubleWalk’ was designed by Jencks2 (Charles and Lily Jencks) – the spiral feature that can be seen on the aerial above.