Bak in 2016 the future of the former Galashiels Cottage Hospital seemed to be uncertain once again. When the Borders District General Hospital opened at Melrose in 1988, it had been intended that the cottage hospitals at Galashiels and Selkirk should close permanently, but the local health board changed its mind and decided it could find a new use for the buildings. For Galashiels, that new use was a rehabilitation unit for people with long-term mental health problems, and it re-opened as such under the name Galavale House. But more recently there have been concerns that the standard of accommodation is not longer fit for purpose, and a scheme was under consideration in 2015 to relocate services to Crumhaugh House, Hawick. However, when I visited the Galashiels in September, it was still very much in use.
In 2006 Galavale House and lodge were listed category C (s) for their architectural and local historic interest. The origins of the hospital date back to 1891 when subscriptions were first raised for a cottage hospital in the town. Originally it was intended to be for accident cases, but in the end it took in medical and surgical cases, though paupers were excluded. Sick paupers were cared for at the local poorhouse.
Built to designs by John Wallace of Edinburgh, the hospital was formally opened by the Earl of Dalkeith in November 1893. Wallace was originally from the Borders, and the few architectural commissions that he is known to have carried out were all in this area. In 1891, the year before he was commissioned to design the cottage hospital, he had designed Blynlee Tower in Galashiels.
The plan below was not as executed, only the front wards were built, so at first there were just two wards with six beds each, and two single wards for private patients. The local building firm of Robert Hall & Co. carried out the construction work.
As built, the hospital comprised an appealing small scale building. The wide single‑storey centrepiece of the main block has generous roofs with dormers, and the eaves are supported on cast‑iron columns to create a verandah. The wards in the projecting outer bays are lit by broad bay windows.
A small nurses’ home was built on the site with thirteen bedrooms in 1929-30 to designs by the local architects J. & J. Hall, John Hall was the nephew of Robert Hall, the builder of the original hospital. In 1938 extensions were built, in sympathetic style, to the south-west (Hume Ward) and north. In that year four beds were set aside for maternity cases.
The Builder, 18 June 1892, p.480; Building News, 24 Nov. 1893, p.703: Border Telegraph, 18 August 2015 accessed online 16 April 2016.