The Falkirk Ward

The Falkirk Ward was designed by the Department of Health for Scotland in the 1960s. It was an experimental ward, a prototype to be tested for its efficiency and flexibility. If successful, it was to be rolled out in the new district general hospitals planned to be built across Scotland as promised by the Hospital Plan of 1962. In the 1990s it was selected by DoCoMoMo as one of Scotland’s key 20th Century Modern architectural monuments. It  was one of  60 post-war buildings which were deemed to be of particular significance in terms of their design or style.

Looking towards the Falkirk Ward Unit from the south, photographed in 1991 © RCAHMS

The ward block was erected at the existing Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary. The Infirmary had been built in 1926-31 to replace an older cottage hospital and was officially opened by Prince George, later Duke of Kent, in January 1932. It had been designed in a sparse Neo‑Georgian style by the local architect, W. J. Gibson, with advice from Dr D. J. Mackintosh, Medical Superintendent of Glasgow’s Western Infirmary. Mackintosh was an inveterate giver of advice to hospital boards of management, and author of Construction Equipment and Management of a General Hospital published in 1916. The architect, William Gibson, had a family connection with the infirmary as his mother, Harriette Hicks Gibson, had been the main force behind the foundation of the original cottage hospital. His father, John Edward Gibson, was managing partner of the Camelon Ironworks in Falkirk.

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Falkirk Royal Infirmary, photographed by in 2008. These buildings were demolished some time after 2010. © Copyright John Lord and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Funds were raised to add a nurses’ home in the late 1930s and a competition held for the design, limited to architects practising in Scotland. First prize went to the firm of Rowand Anderson, Paul & Partners, Stuart R. Matthew came second and a local firm, T. M. Copland & Blakey were placed third by the assessor, C. G. Soutar. [AJ, 22 Dec 1938, p.1013.]  The outbreak of the Second World War resulted in the plans being postponed and eventually abandoned, instead nine Emergency Medical Scheme huts were built on the site (a further two were added later).

O.S. 1:1250 Map, Surveyed in 1951, showing the 1920s-30s infirmary at the top/north side of the site, and the EMS hutted annexe to the south. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Falkirk Infirmary was one of eleven institutions in Scotland selected by the Department of Health for hutted annexes to provide for the anticipated air-raid casualties. The eleven sites comprised four local authority hospitals (Robroyston, and Mearnskirk, in Glasgow; Hairmyres, Lanarkshire; and Ashludie, Dundee) four voluntary hospitals (Astley Ainslie, Edinburgh; Victoria Infirmary Auxiliary Hospital, Busby, Glasgow; Falkirk Royal Infirmary; and Stirling Royal Infirmary), and three mental hospitals (Gartloch, Glasgow; Bangour, Edinburgh; and Larbert). The huts, measuring around 144ft by 24ft,  were each to contain 36 beds, and were to be built and maintained by the Office of Works. [The Lancet, 22 April 1939, p.943.]

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Extract from the OS Air Photo Mosaics, 1944-50. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The executive architects of the Falkirk Ward who worked in conjunction with the Scottish Home and Health Department and Western Regional Hospital Board were Keppie Henderson and Partners. The design was drawn up by the Hospital Planning Group of the Scottish Home and Health Department, comprising two architects – John Ogilvie and Mr Bruce, Dr Hunter and Miss McNaught on the medical and work-study side, Mr Rendle for administrative expertise, and Mr. Wotherspoon, engineer. Plans were finalised in October 1962 and work began in the following year. The new unit was officially opened by Bruce Millan M.P., Under Secretary of State for Scotland, on 4 November 1966, although one of the wards was brought into use towards the end of 1965. Patients were moved into it from two overcrowded wards in the old hospital. One of the consultant surgeons, Mr R. G. Main, noted that the old hospital’s surgical unit (which the new block replaced) had 65 beds consisting of one male ward and one female ward, but they sometimes added in as many as ten extra beds in the middle of each ward in order to cope with the waiting list. He recalled how ‘A ward round could be likened to a stroll through Glasgow Central Station on Fair Saturday!’ [SHHD, Hospital Design in Use 4 The Falkirk Ward, Edinburgh, HMSO 1969, p.39.]

The Falkirk Ward Unit, photographed in 1991 © RCAHMS

The Falkirk ward was developed in order to provide greater ‘privacy, amenity and better facilities for caring for patients and so set standards for National Health Service hospitals which might be generally acceptable for many years to come’. [The Hospital, Feb 1968, p.65.] It was an experiment in design incorporating several features which were being contemplated or proposed for new hospitals but had not yet been tried out in Britain. It was a complete departure from the standard Nightingale ward, and involved a move towards much smaller ward units. It was not considered viable to provide only single and double rooms which were by then current in American hospitals. This would have created too many operational and staffing difficulties and greatly increased the running costs. For these reasons a combination of four‑bed wards and single rooms was selected, with a ward floor of 60 beds, including twelve for intensive care.

Falkirk Ward Unit, First-floor, reception © RCAHMS

In addition to the experimental ward block, a two-storey service building was constructed as part of a general scheme of reconstruction at the infirmary. This addition provided kitchen, staff dining-room, pharmacy and central stores, and was also completed in 1965. In that year work began to design a new out-patients’ department. This, too, was designed by members of the Hospital Planning Committee of the Scottish Home and Health Department. The team in this instance comprised one of the few female architects employed by the NHS in Scotland in the 1960s, M. Justin Blanco White, Dr Hunter and Miss McNaught were the medical advisers and Mr Rendle the administrative adviser.

Interior of the Falkirk Ward, with the nurses’ station on the left. Photographed in 1991. © RCAHMS

The new out-patients’ department was intended to be a demonstration building embodying the principles behind the Department’s Planning Note (the guidelines which were to be followed throughout the country for new out-patient departments). It was part of the wider strategy of devising standard hospital departments. In the mid-1960s the Department thought that the advantages of standardisation of departments would be increased if a standardised system of building and the use of common structural components were adopted. The model plan of the Falkirk out-patients’ department was also designed to illustrate the recommendations for A&E departments, especially regarding standard rooms for both diagnosis and treatment of either new or returning patients ‘walking, in wheel chairs or on a trolley’.  They were also trialling a short-stay ward and operating theatre shared between out-patients and A&E.

Design work on the out-patients’ department continued through 1966-9. In 1969, with the plans nearing completion, work began to clear the site for the new department. Construction began in 1970, and the department was completed in 1972, having cost £881,000. It was equipped and furnished ready for use the following year.

With the reorganisation of the National Health Service in 1974, the running of Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary passed from the Western Regional Hospitals Board to the newly established Forth Valley Health Board. One of the first schemes undertaken by the new Health Board was the upgrading of the war-time hospital huts, completed in 1976.

Windsor Unit, built in 1984-6. Photographed in 2008. © Tom Sargent (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The next major development took place in the 1980s with the addition of the Windsor Unit. This project was approved in 1979 and was intended to provide 176 maternity and geriatric beds. Work began in April 1984, on the scheme estimated to cost £8.7m and was scheduled for completion in 1986. The three storey block was very much of its time, the design made effective use of contrasting colours and materials, with the rich brown brick threaded with orange-red brick stripes. Despite being of relatively recent date, the unit had been decommissioned by October 2010, after the opening of Forth Valley Hospital, and was subsequently demolished.

 

 

 

The Hospitals on Islay

Islay Hospital, Bowmore. View of the ward block and main entrance from the west. Photographed in May 2019, © H. Richardson

There have been three hospitals on Islay: a poor law institution that provided medical care for paupers and in the early decades of the National Health Service became the island’s general hospital; an infectious diseases hospital, established in the 1890s, and provided with a permanent small building in 1904; and the present Islay Hospital built in 1963-6, pictured above.

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Extract from the 1st-edition OS map, surveyed in 1878, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The earliest of these was the poorhouse, built in 1864-5 on the outskirts of Bowmore on land owned by Charles Morrison. The local Parochial Board decided to get their plans from an Edinburgh architect with experience in such buildings,  J. C. Walker. As can been seen from the map above, the building comprised an H-shaped complex. The main north wing was of two storeys, the rest single-storey. (For a photograph of the poorhouse see the Islay History blogspot)

Gartnatra Hospital, from an old photograph on display at the Columba Centre.

To comply with the Public Health Acts the local authority had to provide accommodation for cases of infectious disease and so a fever hospital was established at Gartnatra, to the east of Bowmore. Although the building pictured above was built in 1904, there had been a hospital hereabouts since at least the mid-1890s. The local Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ross, reported on an outbreak of measles in 1895, the patient being  removed to the hospital. However, as there was no nurse employed by the local authority to attend the hospital, the patient’s mother went to nurse her daughter. Dr Ross had no authority to confine the mother to the hospital, and she went in to the village on many occasions. In a short time the disease spread rapidly throughout Bowmore.

The former fever hospital, now the Columba Centre. Photographed in May 2019, © H. Richardson

The situation was finally remedied with the erection of a new building for which the plans were approved by the Local Government Board for Scotland in 1902. To cover the cost of construction a loan of £1,100 was secured from the Public Works Loan Board. The building is dated 1904, and the Local Government Board sanctioned it for occupation in February 1905. It was built by James MacFayden. The building survives, though the interior has been completely refurbished and a large extension built to the rear. It is now in use as a cultural centre.

The former Gartnatra Hospital, viewed from the east. The old hospital is the gabled block on the left, with the short bay attached (the former sanitary annexe). The rest has been added to form the new cultural centre and cafe. Photographed in May 2019, © H. Richardson

With the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 the administration of Gartnatra Hospital and the poorhouse, latterly known as Gortanvogie House, passed to the Campbeltown and District Hospitals Board of Management, under the Western Regional Hospital Board (WRHB). Under the terms of the National Health Service Act responsibility for the elderly remained with local authorities, so the presence of elderly as well as the sick at Gortanvogie posed problems. In the opinion of the Board of Management, although Gortanvogie left much to be desired, the conditions were probably better than most of the patients enjoyed at home.

Photograph taken in 1955 outside Gortanvogie Hospital. The Matron, Miss C. E. M. Morrison, is seated on the left, and behind her in uniform is the hospital sister, Agnes Watson Miligan. A colleague is pictured seated to the right, and a young patient standing behind. (Reproduced by kind permission of L. Tudball. © L. Tudball.)

Given the list of improvements that the Matron had requested, this makes for a depressing view of those conditions. She had asked, without success, for: electric light – the Hydro Electric Board’s supply reached the front door, but the building was not wired; hot water on the ground floor; a bathroom directly off each main ward on the ground floor; a linen cupboard; wooden or other suitable flooring instead of stone floors; a brick side screen with steel windows along the outside of a covered way between the front and back of the building to stop the inmates from passing through the staff dining-room;  essential repairs to the structure of walls and ceilings, and re-slating a large part of the roof. Neglect of building maintenance during the war, common throughout Britain, had left many of the inner walls damp and rotten, with plaster having fallen from many of the ceilings.

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

Gartnatra, on the other hand, was described as well-built with no serious trace of damp except in two W.C.s at the back on either side which were below a flat part of the roof where the rain water had forced a way in during stormy weather.

‘The site of Gartnatra is bleak and exposed to the prevailing westerly wind coming off the bay; there is nothing “cosy” about the building, but Matron remarked that the islanders are used to hearing the wind roar about their houses. Our visit was on a day of cold rain. A shelter belt of trees would obviously be desirable, but we were told that owing to the wind and the salt spray from the sea, there would be little chance of trees growing.’

The former Gartnatra hospital, now the Columba Centre, viewed from the south-east. Photographed in May 2019, © H. Richardson

When the question of modernising the hospital facilities was under discussion, a small team from the mainland visited Islay in May 1952 that included Mr Guthrie, the Regional Hospital Board Architect, Dr Guy, the Medical Officer of Health, and representatives of Argyllshire County Council. The Secretary of the Board of Management for Campbeltown & District Hospitals favoured an extension to Gartnatra but the local doctors argued for a new hospital on a more convenient and sheltered site. Funding was the main problem, but the Department of Health were conscious that spending money on upgrading inferior accommodation was not the best long-term policy.

Plans for extending Gartnatra were drawn up by the WRHB architects, only to be rejected by the Board of Management. With patient numbers dwindling to none, Gartnatra closed in April 1955. The following year the tide had turned towards using Gortanvogie as the hospital and turning Gartnatra over to the local authority as a home for the elderly, and in 1958 sketch plans were drawn up by the WRHB for a new hospital building on the Gortanvogie site. By May 1959 these plans seem to have evolved into something like their final form, encompassing the demolition of Gortanvogie and building in its place two separate buildings, a hospital and a home for the elderly. This was certainly the case by the following May, when some of the problems of shared staff and services were beginning to be discussed.

Islay Hospital,  south-west corner of the main block, showing what was originally planned as the patients’ dining and sitting-room and on the left the end of the link corridor to the Eventide Home. © H. Richardson

By July 1960 detailed plans had been drawn up by the WRHB and submitted to the Department of Health. Forbes Murison, Chief Architect to the WHRB, had been building up a central staff of architects with some success, and did not want to have them sitting around doing nothing. The Islay job was one on which he was keen to let them cut their teeth. In 1960 Douglas Gordon McKellar Adam had joined as Principal Assistant, (he became Assistant Chief Architect in 1962).

Islay Hospital, general view from the entrance looking along the south side of the ward block, photographed in May 2019  © H. Richardson

In the hopes of gaining the necessary approbation from the Department of Health, the WRHB stressed that Gortanvogie was one of the few examples of an old poorhouse still used in the hospital service in the Western Region. It not only had 12 beds for the sick, but 8 for the old and infirm under the charge of the local authority. Despite the nature of its original purpose, the hospital had in recent times been fulfilling the functions of a cottage hospital by the admission of general and maternity patients. The fabric of the building was so poor as to make reconstruction unviable. Many of the floors were laid directly on the ground, and there was practically no sub-floor ventilation. The intention was to provide all the services of a general cottage hospital and make the island as independent of the air services as practicable. Argyll County Council wished to arrange for the provision of a 20-bedded Eventide Home as part of the scheme, and it was agreed that the one architect should design both, and that this should rest with the Regional Board’s architectural staff.

The entrance front of the Eventide Home, photographed in May 2019, © H. Richardson

The new hospital was also originally to provide 20 beds (an additional maternity bed was added later), as well as X-ray, casualty and treatment room, mortuary, boiler-house, kitchen etc, accommodation for the matron and six nurses – considered essential given the location on a ‘remote island’. From the start, the hospital was to be linked to the eventide home by a covered way, and the heating, hot water services and kitchen were to be shared. This raised the question of who should fund what. It also required authorisation from the Treasury as sharing facilities was not authorised by the National Health Service Act. Although combining a hospital with a home for the elderly went against government health policy, as well as introducing the complexity regarding shared funding, mixed institutions were thought to have a place in the more remote parts of the Scottish Islands and Highlands.

Plan of Islay Hospital, based on original dated January 1962, in the National Records of Scotland. © H. Richardson

At this point the estimated cost was £146,000. At the end of October the Department forwarded their comments on the plans. Within the Department of Health these were circulated to a team of advisers on the different elements of hospital design, function and administration, each of whom submitted comments, criticisms and suggested alterations. The list of criticisms was lengthy, ranging from concern over the position of the maternity unit below the staff residential quarters (as babies’ crying was liable to cause disturbance), to suggesting that the entrance to the visitors’ viewing room into the mortuary should be placed opposite the doctor’s room rather than in the main hall.  Some rooms they thought too small, others too large.

Islay Hospital. This block was designed as the maternity wing with staff accommodation on the upper floor © H. Richardson

Treasury approval was granted in November 1960, and the following month the Department was able to give the Regional Board approval in principle to enable planning to proceed. In June 1961 the WRHB sent in revised plans, and raised the issue that the scheme would need to be carried out in two phases, the first phase being the provision of the hospital which could be done without demolishing the existing building, and the second phase being the eventide home following demolition. The revised plan for the eventide home had by then already been agreed to by the County Council, but one of the Department of Health’s architects, R. L. Hume (presumably Robert Leggat Hume, 1899-1980), also discussed the plan with the Regional Board, which seems to have resulted in further revisions.

Islay Hospital, main entrance  © H. Richardson

Some of the criticisms revolved around room allocation, others around safety. The home was designed around a garden court with a pool in the centre – and so there were concerns that the old people might fall in. Hume discussed the plans with Mr Ellis (Kenneth Geoffrey Ellis), one of the Regional Board’s architects who confirmed that the points raised had been attended to, and that the pool was intended to be shallow with low shrubs or flowers planted around it to keep old people away from the edge.  (The plans submitted to the Department were drawn by Ellis, and are dated January 1962.)

Islay Hospital, viewed from the south-east looking towards the maternity and staff quarters’ block. On the left is the rear of the entrance block, and the link range contained treatment rooms and the X-ray room.  © H. Richardson

Although it had been hoped that building would start in the financial year 1961-2,  the already complex bureaucracy was exacerbated by the apportionment of costs between the Department and the County Council. It was not until June 1962 that the Department sanctioned the preparation of final plans.

Islay Hospital,  from the north-east with the ward block in the centre and the eventide home to the right of the picture © H. Richardson

Revised plans were submitted in April 1963, and circulated yet again to the Department’s professional advisers for comment. As comments trickled in they were relayed back to the Regional Board, but the Department was at pains to stress that they would not expect drastic alterations to the proposed layout at this stage.  The main delaying factors were not difficult to identify: the amount of scrutiny that the project was given had led to ‘a good deal of adverse comment on the plans’; the architectural staff of the WRHB were under pressure to cope with the wider building programme; and the awareness of the shortage of capital funds had generated a reluctance to embark on a relatively expensive project for its size. Once the plans were agreed and the costing completed, work began towards the end of 1963.

Islay Hospital, north side, with wards and kitchen block. © H. Richardson

Caution over the estimates was well founded. Within the three years since the original probable costing of around £100,000, it had more than doubled to £236,816. The revised figure took into account the special prices that might be expected to be charged for building on Islay. But everyone involved was aware that costs might still creep up. The main difficulty was attracting a sufficient number of contractors even ‘reasonably interested’ in building on Islay, in order to avoided inflated prices.

The north-east corner of the Eventide Home, with the link corridor between it and the hospital, photographed in May 2019 © H. Richardson

The hospital was built first, then Gortanvogie House demolished and the home built on its site. In 1966 work on the hospital was completed. It had cost about £180,000, and provided 12 chronic sick beds, 6 beds for general medicine and 3 maternity beds.

Sources: 

National Records of Scotland, HH101/1491: Dictionary of Scottish Architects

Raigmore Hospital, Inverness

Inverness’s general hospital at Raigmore is the largest and only acute hospital in the NHS Highland’s estate, serving patients from a huge area. It was designed in the post-war era as one of the new National Health Service’s centralised district general hospitals, in this instance to replace the Royal Northern Infirmary and numerous smaller hospitals,  providing a full range of medical and surgical facilities, as well as specialist departments. It was constructed in two main phases in the 1960s—’70s, and ’70s—’80s, but its history begins during the Second World War.

geograph-1247053-by-Richard-DorrellRaigmore Hospital, Inverness, photographed in 2009 © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

Raigmore Hospital began as an Emergency Medical Scheme (EMS) hospital, one of seven large new hospitals built in Scotland for the anticipated casualties during the War. Work on the site started in 1940. The builders were James Campbell & Sons, builders, with MacDonald, joiners, and the first wards were completed in 1941. The hospital followed the standardised EMS design, but restrictions on the use of timber and steel for building construction meant that here the single‑storey, flat-roofed ward blocks were constructed of brick.

Raigmore Hospital, Perth Road, Inverness. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing north-west, taken September 1948 © HES (Aerofilms Collection)

On the 40‑acre site, on the southern outskirts of Inverness, sixteen standard wards and one isolation block were built to provide around 670 beds. Staff quarters were located in the blocks on the north-west side of the complex, with a tennis court just to their south. At the heart of the site, between the staff quarters and the main ward huts was the admin section with the central kitchens, dining rooms, laboratories, matron’s quarters and services. An isolation block, Ward 17, was to the east of the central section. This was converted into a maternity unit in 1947, and then became a children’s ward in 1955. The buildings on the north-east side of the site were part of the Raigmore home farm.

Block plan of Raigmore based on the  OS 1:1,250 map revised in 1961. 

As with the other six war-time hospitals, Raigmore became part of the National Health Service on the appointed day in July 1948. Some new specialist departments were created, wards changed function, and additions were built – including an outpatients department in 1956. Raigmore had already become a General Training School for nursing in 1946.

Plans for a new central general hospital at Inverness formed part of the 1962 Hospital Plan  drawn up by the Department of Health for Scotland. Raigmore was the obvious choice of site. The new hospital was designed to be built in two major phases of construction, and J. Gleave & Partners were appointed as architects. Phase one was commenced in May 1966, and was largely completed and opened in 1970 having cost some £1.42 million. The largest part of the new hospital was situated to the south of the main wards, comprising a low-rise complex providing outpatient, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy and records departments.

A standard plan for out-patients departments issued by the Scottish Home and Health department was adopted here. The architect to the Northern Regional Hospitals Board (NRHB),  D. P. Hall, was part of the project team, as he was on the two other contemporary major schemes carried out by outside architects for the Board, Belford Hospital (also designed by Gleave & partners) and Craig Phadrig. All senior officers of the NRHB were also part of the team, ensuring that there was advice from administrators and medical staff. Other additions to the site at this time included a new Inverness Central School of Nursing and Post Graduate Medical Centre, built to the north of the original ward block, and nurses’ accommodation, located to the west of the old central admin area.

The second phase was approved in 1977, comprising the eight-storey ward block with operating theatres, kitchen and dining rooms, an administration block, a chapel and a works department. Work commenced in 1978, and the tower block was opened in March 1985. Further staff accommodation formed a separate contract, with three blocks of 32 bed-sitting rooms, 32 three-apartment houses and a block of two-apartment flats.

Raigmore Hospital today. © OpenStreetMap contributors

Gradually all the war-time buildings were demolished. Part of the cleared ground was allocated to a new maternity unit which opened in January 1988. The last huts went in 1990, the same year that a new isolation unit was completed. The fourth Maggie’s Centre in Scotland opened beside Raigmore in 2005. Situated in a green space to the south of the main hospital complex, the leaf-shaped building was designed by David Page of the Scottish architectural firm Page and Park Architets, with gardens designed by Charles Jencks.

Maggie’s Centre, Raigmore Hospital, photographed in 2007 by TECU consulting UK. Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In stark contrast to the EMS hospital, the central feature of Raigmore Hospital today is the multi‑storey ward‑tower, which strikes the view of all who arrive in Inverness by car from the south on the A9.

Sources

Inverness Courier, 2/11/2017 online: Glasgow Herald, 6 June 2005, p.2: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 3 May 1977, p13; 22 Sept 1979, p.2: Builder, 22 July 1960, p.174, 24 July 1964, p.201: Hospital Management, vol.34, 1971, pp 108-10: The Hospital, vol.67, 1971, p.175: PP Estimates Committee 1 (sub-committee B) 1969-70, minutes of evidence, 2382-93, 2422, 2503: J. & S. Leslie, The Hospitals of Inverness, Old Manse Books, 2017

Arbroath Infirmary

Arbroath Infirmary consists of a pleasing if mismatched group of buildings in a variety of dates and styles. The oldest is the former Rosebrae House, probably dating to around the 1830s-40s. The original infirmary of the 1840s was demolished to make way for the present main stone building, erected in 1913-16 and added to in the 1920s and 30s. Most recent of the additions is the Queen Mother Wing of the 1960s.

Abroath infirmary poscard

Postcard of Arbroath Infirmary from the 1930s, after the children’s ward had been added (far left of picture). © H. Martin

The original infirmary was built on this site in 1844-5 to designs by David Smith and had been preceded by a dispensary, providing medical aid to out-patients, set up in 1836. During an epidemic of typhus in 1842 a small ward was set aside to take fever patients. Fund raising to build a hospital was boosted by a donation of £1,000 from Lord Panmure. (William Maule, 1st Baron Panmure, of Brechin Castle. He served as MP for Forfarshire for many years before he was raised to the peerage.)

Principal elevation of the 1840s infirmary, reproduced from The Builder

As well as medical and surgical cases, the infirmary was open to accident cases and also to those suffering from contagious diseases. It was a handsome building, in the fashionable simplified Tudor or Jacobean style much in vogue for domestic villas, and apart from its rigid symmetry, was barely distinguishable from a private house.

Return elevation of the 1840s infirmary, reproduced from The Builder

David Murray, mason, Forfar and Messrs Nicol and Wallace, wrights, Arbroath won the building contracts. Local sandstone was the main building material, faced in ashlar on the main elevation and the side returns, but brick was used for internal walls. ‘Arbroath pavement’ was used to floor the service areas, with polished stone for the stairs, and timber for the ward floors – ‘Petersburg battens’ on Memel pine joists. Doors and windows were of American yellow pine, and Easdale slates covered the roof. Natural ventilation was introduced through fresh air flues within the walls, carried behind the skirting boards with vents into the wards. Ornamental openings in the ceilings connected to flues carried through the rear wall to extract foul air.

Ground-floor plan of the 1840s infirmary, reproduced from The Builder. A: Consulting-room B: Housekeeper’s room C: Servants’ room D: Medicine room E: Ward for maimed females F: Ward for maimed males G: Bed closet H: Bath room I: Water-closet J: Store place K: Lobby L: Passages M: Closet under stair N: Kitchen O: Porter’s room P: Wash-house Q: Coal house R: Dead house

First-floor plan. S: Staircase landing T and U: Fever ward for females V: Water closets 

Bristowe and Homes’s account of the Hospitals of the United Kingdom, published in 1866, described the infirmary as it then existed as a single, long building of two floors with the kitchen and offices built out behind. By then the original accommodation had been extended to the west, almost doubling the number of beds that were provided, from thirty-six to sixty.

This postcard shows the extended infirmary, with the new wing to the left in the same style as the original building. Reproduced by permission of D. Robertson.

Extract from the OS Town plan of Arbroath, 1858, with the western addition. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

This old postcard shows the extended infirmary with its encircling wall, railings and entrance gates. Reproduced by permission of D. Robertson.

Despite the additional wing, by the end of the nineteenth century there was a pressing need to provide more accommodation to meet the needs of the growing population of Arbroath. Unusually, the new hospital was largely constructed during the First World War. Plans by the local architect  Hugh Gavin were drawn up by June 1912, but the estimates exceeded the expected upper limit of £12,000 by £2,500. This meant that more money had to be raised, but also prompted some of the infirmary managers to question whether a new building should be built at all, or whether it would be better to find a different site. It was largely for these reasons, and, once they had settled on rebuilding on the existing site, finding a temporary home for the displaced patients and staff, that delayed the start of construction.

In 1913 Greenbank House was purchased to serve as the temporary infirmary, and work looked set to begin until it was decided to seek advice on the plans from Dr Mackintosh, of the Western Infirmary Glasgow. He was the pre-eminent authority on hospital design and administration in Scotland at that time, and whilst this was a laudable decision, it resulted in some early decisions being changed, not always to everyone’s satisfaction. Mackintosh was repeatedly approached for his advice on everything from the best sterilizer to the type of paint to be used. (For the paint he recommended a new process, appropriately called ‘Hygeia’.)

Arbroath Infirmary, photographed in April 2018. © H. Richardson

Postcard showing the same view, perhaps around the 1930s when the children’s ward to the left was newly completed. Reproduced by permission of D. Robertson.

Arbroath Infirmary, photographed in April 2018. © H. Richardson. The open sun veranda at the end of the ward to the left has only recently been enclosed at first-floor level.

Estimates submitted by the various tradesmen for the erection of the new building were considered in March 1913 and were awarded as follows: mason works Messrs Christie and Anderson, builders, Arbroath, £3,775; joiner work Mr Rowland, Chapel Farquhar, joiner, Arbroath £1,828 17s 6d; plumber work Mr Thomas Raitt Grant, plumber Arbroath £1,148 15s 11d; slater work Messrs William Brand & Son, Slaters, Arbroath £191 16s 7d;  plaster work Mr Archibald Donald Senior, plasterer, Arbroath  £521 2d 4s; tile work Messrs Robert Brown & Son Limited, Ferguslie Works, Paisley £401 8s 2d.

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The second edition OS map, revised  1921, shows the rebuilt infirmary. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland

The new infirmary was almost finished before the outbreak of the First World War, but it took two more years before it was ready to receive its first patients, as it became increasingly difficult to source materials and workmen. Furniture was acquired late in 1915 from George Rutherford Thomson and Son, cabinetmakers. Bedsteads were separately supplied by Messrs J. Nesbit-Evans & Co. of Birmingham.

 

The building in the foreground of this old postcard is the toll-house. Behind to the right, up on the hill, is the new infirmary, as completed by the end of the First World War. Reproduced by permission of D. Robertson

Despite hopes that the new infirmary would be ready for patients early in 1916 it was April when it was officially opened, and June before the first patients arrived. With the war still raging, it was clear that beds should be set aside for war wounded. At the outset of the war 30 beds at Greenbank had been offered to the Red Cross Society.

On the left is Rosebrae House and to its right the nurses’ home. Photographed in April 2018 © H. Richardson.

After the war the infirmary directors turned their attention to additions to the buildings. In particular there was a need for accommodation for the nurses and for the resident medical officer. Sketch plans were made by Gavin in 1922 for a new nurses’ home costing around £4,000, and the home was completed by March 1924.

This photograph shows roughly the same view of the toll-house as the earlier postcard, but here the new nurses’ home can be seen to the left, with the boiler-house chimney rising behind it. Reproduced by permission of D. Robertson

This view looking towards the nurses’ home has Rosebrae House on the left and part of the 1913-16 hospital on the right.  Photographed in April 2018 © H. Richardson.

The next addition that was urgently required was a children’s ward. Plans were prepared in 1925, but differences arose between the medical staff and the infirmary directors. In April the medical staff submitted their views to the directors. They agreed that a children’s ward was needed, but pointed out that there was an equal need to provide space for maternity cases, cases of venereal diseases, and out-patients.

‘… year by year the Public are demanding an increasing number of hospital beds for the treatment of general medical and surgical diseases. We are in agreement with the Directors that an extension of the hospital is required, but we view with regret and misgiving a proposal to provide one of those departments, in this instance the Children’s Ward, according to a plan which seems to us to be essentially unsound, and, of even greater importance, which blocks one of the natural paths of extension of the hospital.

We beg to suggest that in the preparation of a plan for ultimately providing a complete hospital service the Directors should secure the advice and assistance of a recognized expert in hospital planning and administration, to the end that the various new departments (which need not be provided simultaneously) may be harmoniously correlated and be neither mutually obstructive nor detrimental to the existing hospital.’

The whole question of extending the infirmary was referred back to the building committee and the position of the new children’s ward revised. However, the deepening economic depression of the 1920s, the Second World War, the building restrictions in the years after the war, and then the transfer of the hospital to the National Health Service in 1948, meant that all the new facilities were only provided with the opening of a new wing in 1961.

The diminutive Rosebrae House on the left, with the south end of the children’s ward block in the foreground. Photographed in April 2018. © H. Richardson.

For the children’s ward, advice was sought from John Wilson, the chief architect to the Scottish Board of Health, who judged a competition for its design in 1928. Thomas W. Clark, architect of Arbroath, came first, James Lochhead of Hamilton was placed second, and  Charles S. Soutar of Dundee third. After criticism from the medical staff, Wilson and Clark amended the plans, and the new wing together with additional accommodation for the nursing staff were built in 1930- 33. Rosebrae House, which adjoined the hospital to the west, had been purchased in 1928 and was used for stores and to accommodate the night nurses. Although the work began under Clark, he resigned part way through the commission, perhaps as a result of conflict with Wilson. James Lochhead, the runner up in the competition, took over the commission.

Extract from the  OS 1:2,500 map surveyed in 1964. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

As to the 1961 wing, this comprised consultative out-patients department, physiotherapy department and maternity unit. The total cost was £90,000 of which £53,000 came from the Board of Management’s Endowment Funds.

The Queen Mother Wing, built 1958-61 to provide for out-patients, maternity and physiotherapy departments. Photographed in April 2018. © H. Richardson.

The architect to the Eastern Regional Hospitals Board, James Deuchars, and the regional engineer, R. G. McPherson, drew up the first set of plans for the wing back in 1952, although the building was only put out to tender in 1958. The building contractor was R. Pert & Sons Ltd of Montrose, the clerk of works, Mr Groves, and the engineer in charge, Mr Moodie. The Angus Hospitals Board of Management blamed delays in construction on a lack of collaboration between Duechars and McPherson, an accusation hotly denied by the Eastern Regional Hospitals Board.

Detail of the Queen Mother Wing. Photographed in April 2018. © H. Richardson.

Later work on site, including a new X-ray department, was designed by  Baxter, Clark and Paul in 1968.

Sources: Coventry Herald, 14 April 1843, p.3: The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal 1847The Builder, 28 Sept 1844, pp 494-5; 7 March 1896, p.217; 22 March 1957, 28 Feb p.572, 10 Oct 1958, p.423, 633: Glasgow Herald, 21 Jan. 1913; 15 Feb. 1913; 13 March 1913: Dundee University Archives, Minutes of Directors, THB 20/1/1/1-3, Minutes of Board of Management Angus Hospitals, THB 20/1/4; ERHB Magazine, No.9, vol.1 Winter Dec 1964; ERHB Mins THB 18/1/5: The Scotsman, 4 Feb 1933, p.11: Dictionary of Scottish Architects