Netherlea Hospital, Newport-on-Tay

Netherlea Hospital will soon be no more, and so here is a slightly revised post from 2017.

In March 2017 the Dundee Courier announced plans to demolish the former Netherlea Hospital in Newport, Fife, and replace it with a development of luxury houses and flats. Planning permission was granted in August 2018, and work clearing the site was underway in February 2019.  The Law Property Group, on behalf of the developers, suggested that the development would be attractive to locals wishing to downsize. But with the upper price of £650,000 this seems disingenuous. A local councillor was quoted as being ‘surprised’ by the proposed price range. On a development promising between 35 and 45 homes, the cheapest property, a two-bed flat, would cost £275,000.

The former Netherlea Hospital, photographed in July 2018 © H. Richardson

Netherlea was built as a domestic villa, for the local shipowner, Andrew Leitch, in about 1893 to designs by the Dundee architect Thomas Martin Cappon. It is a large red sandstone building in simple Tudor style, of two storeys and attics, with stick on half-timbering in the gables.

Extract from the 25-inch OS map surveyed in 1893. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Andrew Leitch was a prominent figure in Dundee, and was particularly associated with the development of the harbour. Born in Fife, he started out as a colliery clerk, later moving to Dundee as the agent for Halbeath Colliery. From there he progressed to being a coal merchant, then exporter, also establishing the Dundee Loch Line Steam Shipping Company. He married in 1859 Isabella Thomson, with whom he had eleven children. She died, at Struan Inn, Banks of Garry, following a carriage accident in July 1897. Andrew Leitch remarried when he was sixty years old in 1902. His second wife, Janet Elizabeth née Smith, became a notable local figure, a supporter of women’s rights, the National Union of Women Workers and many philanthropic causes. She was also the first woman to be elected to the local School Board in Newport. She died in 1913, and her husband outlived her by just three years.

In 1917 the contents of the house were auctioned, at that time the house comprised: drawing-room, parlour, dining room, billiard room and hall, 10 bed and dressing-rooms, as well as laundry and kitchen apartments. By 1936 Netherlea was the home of David Hamilton  Brackenridge, who, like Leitch, was a member of the Dundee Harbour Trust. Brackenridge was born in Cupar in 1871, and was educated at Madras College, St Andrews, and Dundee High School. He spent 21 years in Calcutta as representative of the Dundee jute merchants, J. C. Duffus & Company. On his return from India he became the local agent for Duffus. He died at Netherlea in January 1939 and a month later his widow had put the house up for sale. The accommodation was listed as comprising: on the ground floor, four public rooms, billiard room, cloakroom and lavatory, kitchen and usual offices; on the first floor, five bedrooms, two bathrooms and maids’ sitting-room and bathroom; on the second floor, three maids’ bedrooms and box room. It also had a modern garage, greenhouse and outhouses, was in excellent condition, electrically fitted throughout, and the grounds tastefully laid out. 

The former Netherlea Hospital, photographed in July 2018 © H. Richardson

Presumably the house failed to find a buyer, the contents were sold about a year later, but in 1945 Netherlea was offered to Fife County Council, and its future as a hospital discussed by the Public Health Committee. Before then, during the Second World War, it had been occupied by officers of the Norwegian Air Force.  It became a maternity hospital under the NHS with 17 beds, an isolation room and nursery, plus 13 staff bedrooms, the conversion to a hospital was carried out by the architect Frank Pride, of Walker and Pride to plans drawn up in 1946.

The former Netherlea Hospital, photographed in July 2018 © H. Richardson

Although officially opened on 21 July 1948, by the end of September it had yet to admit any expectant mothers. Lieutenant Colonel Noel Baxter of New Gilston, the county convenor for the East Fife Hospital Group Board of Management, visited the hospital expecting it to be up and running and was shocked to find this was not the case. Although Netherlea had a doctor, matron and nursing staff, it could not open to patients because there was no cook. Until one could be appointed, patients were being sent to Dundee, Perthshire or even Edinburgh – ‘all over the shop’ according to the County Medical Officer of Health. It opened not very long afterwards, presumably once a suitable cook had been found.

In 1974 Netherlea became a long-stay hospital for the elderly. Designated a community hospital in 1997, it closed in 2011. Since then it has been boarded up and its condition steadily deteriorated. There were some who wished to see the building retained, but despite its significance in the local history of the area, it will soon be demolished. 

Sources:
Dundee Advertiser, 3 Feb 1893, p.5: St Andrew’s Citizen, 17 July 1897, p.8: Dundee Evening Telegraph, 10 May 1916, p.2; 4 June 1936, p.5; 30 Jan 1939, p.5, 4 Sept 1945, p.8:  Dundee People’s Journal, 13 May 1916 p.8, has a photograph of Andrew Leitch: Dundee Courier, 5 Dec 1913, p. 6; 17 April 1917, p.1: 30 Dec 1931, p.8; 24 March 1939, p.16; 28 Sept 1948, p.2: The Courier, 31 March 2017

King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Perth, Western Australia

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The original home of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Perth, in a former Industrial School designed in the ‘Federation Free Style’ by Robert Haddon (c) State Library of Western Australia

This caught my eye earlier in the week, a piece that was written by Emma Wynne, based on research by Richard Offen from Heritage Perth, on a Women’s Hospital in Australia. [ref 1] The photograph shows the newly opened hospital around 1916. It was the culmination of years of effort to have a dedicated maternity hospital for Perth. In 1909, the women’s service guild held a meeting in the Government House Ballroom attended by 400 people to discuss the establishment of a such a hospital, and a committee formed to work towards that end. The committee included Edith Cowan, Mary Molloy [the wife of the Lord Mayor], Deborah Hackett and James Battye.

In 1913, the Public Health Annual Report noted the suggestion that rather than building the proposed hospital, a new ward should be added to Perth Public Hospital [now Royal Perth Hospital]. This was rejected by the committee, and  Edith Cowan suggested that if finances were the delaying factor, then perhaps the Government Industrial School building in Subiaco should be used. With the backing of the Minister for Health this was agreed. With accommodation for 20 patients and staff the Hospital was officially opened.in July 1916.

There was still a need to increase ward accommodation at the hospital, and early on a galvanised shed was brought to the site from Coolgardie, formerly a TB ward. After the First World War additions  were made to the building to cope with increasing number of patients. patients.

6063912-3x4-700x933The New Art Deco Building 1939, designed by A E Clare of the Public Works Department (c) state library of Western Australia

In the 1930s planning began on the art deco expansion to the hospital, which still forms the main entrance to the hospital today. The state heritage register documents state that the hospital’s matron travelled overseas to research the design. Among the noteworthy features incorporated in the new building were a central heating system, air conditioning, sound absorbing ceilings, a reserve auxiliary for electrical lighting and power, controlled lighting, and a public address system for paging doctors. It was officially opened on December 6, 1939 by the minister for health, Alexander Panton, who said it was part of what was intended to become the best maternity hospital in Australia.

King_Edward_Memorial_Hospital_for_Women_-_Block_A,_Main_EntranceKing Edward Memorial Hospital for Women – Block A, Main Entrance by Kollision (Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
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The Nurses Home, 1952, designed by Len Walters (c) state library of Western Australia

In the 1950s new nurses quarters were built and in 1979 the multistorey B block was also built. In 1988 the hospital’s first building, the old industrial school, was renamed Harvey House in honour of the hospital’s first matron Eleanor Harvey. It is now used as the WA Medical Museum. The nurses quarters have since been converted to clinics and offices, as staff no longer live on site. In 2002 the whole site was placed on the state heritage register, but continues to operate as Western Australia’s only tertiary women’s hospital.

Lennox Castle

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Lennox Castle in 2014, photographed by Robert Adam at RCAHMS One of a series of aerial photographs of the site

Lennox Castle has been on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland since 1992, the website provides a good summary of the history of the building and the site. Rather wonderfully, the Book of Lennox Castle produced for the opening ceremony of the hospital in 1936 has been scanned and put online by S J McLaughlin, who has charted the history of the hospital and includes numerous photographs. Records from the hospital are deposited with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives.

An extraordinary aerial photo  posted early in 2014 shows part of the site after the patients’ blocks had been demolished. In 2006 planning permission was granted for this area to be developed as the Celtic FC training centre. Below is an aerofilms photograph, taken from the north in 1953, showing Lennox Castle on the right, and the former female division to the left. But this was only a part of the hospital site overall. The OS map from 1958 shows the other sections of the hospital. At this date the blocks to the north-east formed a separate maternity hospital.

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Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS

The aerial photograph of that section of the hospital (below) was taken in 1953. It was turned into a maternity unit in 1941, as part of the Emergency Medical Scheme during the Second World War and continued as such until 1964. All the buildings were demolished to make way for a housing development, for which planning permission was granted in 2006.

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Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS. This shows the former male division which became an emergency hospital during the Second World War and partly used as a Maternity Hospital.

Below is a revised version of the piece I wrote on the hospital around 1990. I remember the hospital quite well, it was one that was particularly impressive, architecturally and for its setting. It was quite a shock to see what has happened since.

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.

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

It was designed in a picturesque neo‑Norman style with castellated and battered walls, and an imposing porte‑cochere. In the 1980s there were some fine interiors on the principal floor but the building had suffered badly from subsidence. The external stonework was also in very poor condition near the ground and had been roughly patched up with concrete rendering.

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View of the dining-room ceiling at Lennox Castle, photograph from RCAHMS, nd.

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.

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The Assembly Hall, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

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.

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The dining-hall block, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed about 1990 © Harriet Richardson

There was a considerable variety of plan and composition which added interest to the site. The Assembly Hall and dining‑halls featured arched windows on the ground floor and each had a central bold entrance bay. On the Assembly hall this comprised a grand arch rising the full‑height of the building and framing the porch, and on the dining‑hall blocks the door was set into an arch, which in turn was in a tall gabled centrepiece. The varied roof-line also added interest. A charming octagonal tea‑room in two tiers with plenty of windows, echoed the tea pavilion at Glen‑o‑Dee Hospital.

Lennox Castle Maternity Hospital and Institution, from the OS map published in 1958. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

During the Second World War the male division (on the map below) was taken over by the government for use as an Emergency Hospital and the male patients were moved to six of the villas in the female division and hutted ward blocks that were constructed near the Castle. Although intended for air raid casualties, the emergency hospital was not needed and so the beds were made available to relieve pressure on hospital accommodation in Glasgow. A post-confinement maternity unit was established at the site in 1941, initially in one villa consisting of three wards, plus another villa that was reserved for gynaecology cases.

The Maternity Hospital from the OS map revised in 1966, after it had ceased to take maternity patients. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Although Lennox Castle was twenty miles from Glasgow, the maternity provision here, with its beautiful rural surroundings, proved very popular. Initial space for 30 patients was soon increased to 60 by using another villa. A certain number of women each week were transferred after confinement from one or other of Glasgow Corporation’s maternity units. The increasing demand for maternity beds in Glasgow was becoming harder to meet. In 1942 the total number of maternity beds available in voluntary and municipal institutions was 461, including ante-natal beds. In addition there were about 150 in nursing homes, and 44 beds for unmarried girls in four private homes. An extension of 32 beds was made at the Eastern District Hospital, and under the government evacuation scheme beds for expectant mothers were available at Haddo House, Peebles, Kilmacolm and Airthrey Castle.

Further beds were made over for maternity cases at Lennox Castle during and after the war. In 1960 work began on a new maternity hospital at Yorkhill, and additional beds were  provided at Redlands, and Robroyston Hospitals, and pavilions at Belvedere Fever were converted to maternity use, but there were still not enough beds to meet demand. Lennox Castle continued to provide maternity beds until 1964 when the Queen Mother’s Hospital at Yorkhill was completed. [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.]

Ayrshire Central Hospital

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‘Deco and Memories’ by Trawts1 Photograph taken in 2008. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

AYRSHIRE CENTRAL HOSPITAL, IRVINE   Comparable to both Inverurie and Hawkhead Hospitals, though lacking the flair of Tait’s buildings at the latter, these three hospitals constitute a interesting and important group of local authority infectious diseases hospitals built in the international modern style, adopting bold cubic shapes and flat roofs.

canmore_image_SC01332623Ayrshire Central Admin block, photographed in 1997 by RCAHMS

Ayrshire Central, designed in 1935 by William Reid, the County Architect, has a strong impact with its brilliant white finish enhanced by good maintenance and sympathetic extensions. The hospital was built to replace the old, small infectious diseases hospitals scattered over the county, and to meet the local authority’s new responsibility for maternity cases. The site was split into two halves to cater for the different functions. The infectious diseases section opening in 1941, and the maternity section in 1944. The specialities within the hospital altered when cases of tuberculosis declined and hospital confinements increased. Eventually, the infectious section became a general area with the ward pavilions adapted to various new functions.

The nurses’ home, in a central position between the two sections of the hospital, was designed on a U-plan and is a particularly pleasing small-scale example of its type. It has an almost Italian feel with the arcaded ground floor. The glazing and contemporary fire escapes are particularly notable details. [Sources: Ayrshire and Arran Health Board, Souvenir Brochure of Opening, 1941, site plan: Architect & Building News, 18 June 1937, p.359]

Revisions:

By 1933 Ayrshire County Council were considering the provision of a 70-bed maternity hospital to take the place of Seafield Maternity Home in Ayr. Plans for the hospital were drawn up in the office of William Reid, the County Architect, but it seems to have been Robert Govan Lindsay who was responsible for the design. From 1921 he worked for Ayrshire Education Authority which was taken over by the County Council in 1929, here he gained a broad experience in designing municipal institutional buildings. The plans were approved and work commenced in 1935 comprising 250 beds for infectious diseases cases, 70 beds for maternity cases and 46 children’s cots. In June 1937 The Architect and Building News reported that Reid was the architect of ‘new quarters for certain staff members’, costing £11,000. Perhaps this was the Nurses’ Home, which differed somewhat in style from the other buildings on the site. 

The hospital was nearing completion in 1938, but costs had risen dramatically, that and the outbreak of war sufficiently explain the slowness in completing this hospital. Despite the war, there was an official opening for the hospital in October 1941. The cost was given as £400,000 and the number of beds provided had been increased to 436. [Annual Reports, Department of Health for Scotland: Sunday Post, 19 Oct 1941]

canmore_image_DP00182871Aerial photograph of the site taken in 2014 by RCAHMS. The original blocks are to the left of the picture. Bare ground can be seen marking the sites of demolished pavilions at the centre of the site.

Ayrshire Central Hospital continues to provide  young disabled rehabilitation services, and has a number of assessment beds for Elderly Mental Health Services.  In 2010-12 the grade B listed buildings on the site were refurbished and modernised, although one block, the original maternity section, has been demolished.  A new General Outpatient Department and Rehabilitation Centre has been added to the site, and  in 2014 work commenced on a new 206-bed, acute mental health and community hospital for NHS Ayrshire and Arran designed by Lawrence McPherson Associates. Balfour Beatty are the building contractors (they were awarded the contract after ‘a robust procurement process’).[ref 1] Opening is planned for 2016. 

Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital

 

2123470466_7b90d32951_o‘Airthrey Castle against the Blue’  by Amy Palko photographed in 2007, and licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Below is the brief gazetteer entry of 1990, with additional notes in italics below. Airthrey Castle survives at the heart of University of Stirling

AIRTHREY CASTLE MATERNITY HOSPITAL, BRIDGE OF ALLAN   The hospital opened c.1941 in the mansion house, a daring design by Robert Adam in his castle style. However, it had closed by 1969 when the new maternity unit opened at Stirling Royal Infirmary. The estates of Airthrey Castle were built on to form Stirling University.

Revisions

Adam drew up designs for Airthrey Castle in 1791, but was not involved with its construction. Building work was supervised by Thomas Russell of Seton. The entrance front was rebuilt in 1891 to designs by David Thomson for Donald Graham, the chief partner in the firm of William Graham & Company, East India Merchants, of Glasgow. The interiors were fitted out with rich carved panelling, still in situ. He had purchased the estate in 1889, but died in January 1901 of erysipelas. After his death the house remained in his wife’s ownership,  but in 1924 the shipowner Charles Donaldson took a five-year lease of the estate. He died at the castle in December 1938.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Estate was acquired by the Ministry of Health as an Emergency Maternity Hospital administered by Stirling County Council, taking patients from Stirling and Clyde. It remained in the ownership of the Graham family until after the war, having been put up for sale in November 1944. With the foundation of the National Health Service the hospital passed to the Western Regional Health Board. A nurses’ home was built in 1953 to the south-east of the house. This L-shaped, two-storey, flat-roofed building appears to have survived and was in use as a surgery/health centre for the University in the 1980s. 

In 1965 arrangements were made for the transfer to the new University of Stirling of the Airthrey Castle Estate, although it remained in use as a maternity hospital until 1968-9. It was replaced by new maternity units in Paisley and Stirling. The castle was listed in 1973 category B.

sources: Edinburgh Evening News, 23 Jan 1901: Dundee Courier, 1 Jan 1924: Western Daily Press, 8 Dec 1938: Dundee Courier, 15 Jan 1940: Dundee Evening Telegraph, 21 Feb 1944: PP ‘Report of the Department of Health for Scotland…’ 1953 c.9107: PP ‘Scottish Home and Health Department Review of the Hospital Plan for Scotland’ 1966 c.2877: OS maps.

Further Reading: N. Reid,  ‘Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital 1939-1948’, and E. Rose ‘Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital 1948-1969’ in Report of Proceedings of the Society of the Scottish History of Medicine, 1988-9, pp.14-17

I have just come across a conservation plan for Stirling University by Simpson and Brown  which includes a history of the Castle and the landscaping, it can be accessed here.