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.

 

 

 

Brooksby House, Largs. From Yachting Residence to Seaside Convalescent Home.

For many decades, Brooksby House was the convalescent home for Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary. The Governors of the Infirmary purchased this substantial villa by the sea-front at Largs in 1896 and it opened the following year with accommodation for 24 patients.

Postcard of Brooksby House, postmarked 1910. Reproduced by permission of H. Martin

Convalescent Homes were a common aspect of health care for about a century. They first emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in an attempt to solve the problem of patients discharged from hospital who did not fully recuperate, either from having to return to work too soon, poor sanitary conditions in the home, or inadequate nourishment. In the late-eighteenth century some general hospitals began to provide convalescent wards and a few of the more enlightened workhouse infirmaries had convalescent wards around the mid-nineteenth century.

The former Metropolitan Convalescent Institution, later Ellesmere Hospital, Walton-on-Thames. Photographed in 1993 © H. Richardson. The hospital closed in 1989, and some time after 1998 was converted into private flats.

The first convalescent home in England seems to have been the Metropolitan Convalescent Institution. It grew from an ad hoc  arrangement between Theodore Monro, a medical student at Barts Hospital in the City of London and his brother, a vicar in Harrow Weald, whereby patients discharged from the hospital were lodged with families in the Harrow Weald to recuperate. Monro wanted to provide an asylum in the country, where pure air, rest and nutritious diet would speed recovery. In 1842  a vacant workhouse in Carshalton provided a more formal home for the nascent institution, but a purpose-built home was erected in 1852-4 near Walton-on-Thames, designed by Joseph Clarke in a handsome Italianate style (later renamed Ellesmere Hospital).

Despite its success, and increasing awareness of the usefulness of convalescent homes, there was a lapse of some years before any more homes were built. This changed during the 1860s, with homes built in Bournemouth (the Herbert Memorial), Wimbledon (the Atkinson Morley), Whitley Bay (Prudhoe Memorial), and various other locations. The first in Scotland was established at Dunoon in 1869 (the Dunoon Homes).

The Prudhoe Memorial Convalescent Home, Whitley Bay, reproduced from the Wellcome Collection, CC BY

The earliest purpose-built homes were designed on hospital-like lines with large nightingale-style wards. Florence Nightingale herself commended a more domestic scale and appearance, and published an ideal plan in 1863 for a convalescent hospital arranged as three cottages, linked by covered ways.

Florence Nightingale’s ideal convalescent home, plan and elevation, from Notes on Hospitals, London, 1863

Like Brooksby House, many convalescent homes were established in converted houses. Brooksby was originally built around 1837-40 as a yachting residence for a Glasgow merchant, Matthew Perston. It is attributed to the architect David Hamilton, or his son James, under the partnership they formed of D & J Hamilton. Designed in a fashionable though restrained Italian Renaissance style, the main elevation faces west, towards the sea, with a verandah, now missing its canopy, in front of the central projecting three bays. The main entrance was on the south side, with a grand porch sheltering the doorway. The house had particularly fine interiors, with plaster ceilings, chimney-pieces and a painted armorial ceiling in the rooms on the ground floor.

Brooksby House, photographed in June 2018 by Ian Rainey. © Copyright Ian Rainey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Perston already had a house in Largs by 1836, when he was the owner of the Yacht ‘Wave’, though his address is not give as Brooksby in the newspapers until 1845. In 1839 he had won a challenge cup with Wave and he had been elected a steward of the Royal Northern Yacht Club by 1844. The Club’s Regatta was held in Largs in that year. In 1846 he was listed as a shareholder of the Glasgow, Largs and Milport Steam-boat Company, but his main business was the Bothwell Street Spinning Company, Glasgow. Perston was bankrupted in 1847, and had to put Brooksby House up for sale or to let. A buyer proved hard to find, and a sale of his wines, port, madeira, sherry etc along with much of his household furniture was held in June 1848. The following year, in October 1849, the house was advertised for sale again, at the reduced price of £3,700, despite having cost £10,000 to build. It was described as a splendid marine residence. It had three reception rooms, seven bedrooms, as well as a bathroom and hot and cold water.

Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1855. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

By the 1850s Brooksby had become the home of Robert Graham, a Justice of the Peace for Ayrshire. Graham senior had died by the mid-1860s, but his daughter, Gertrude Schuyler Ramsay, wife of George Gilbert Ramsay, Professor of Humanity at the University of Glasgow, and his son, R. C. Graham and his wife, retained the house. In 1897 Brooksby  was acquired by the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow. The Grahams offered to sell for £4,000, but the Infirmary Governors did not wish to pay more than £3,500. After some haggling, they agreed to meet half way. The acquisition of a convalescent home fulfilled the wishes of the Infirmary’s benefactor, Robert Couper, who had left £40,000 in his will to establish both the infirmary and an associated convalescent home.  It was hoped that the home would allow patients to be discharged earlier, and thus help to lessen the waiting list.

Ceiling in one of the ground-floor rooms, photographed by RHCME in 2012

Brooksby House was attractive because of its seaside location, easy distance from Glasgow, and because the service buildings to the rear, including coach-house and stables, could easily be rented out and provide an income without interfering with the amenity of the home. After a swift refurbishment, the home was formally opened on 26 June 1897 by Lady Watson, wife of the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Sir Henry Watson. Accommodation was provided for 24 patients, later raised to 30.

Painted ceiling in ground-floor room of Brooksby House, photographed in 2012 by RCHME

Under the National Health Service Brooksby initially remained under the same Board of Management as the Victoria Infirmary. Latterly it was mostly used to provide a fortnight’s holiday for long-stay psychiatric patients from Leverndale Hospital, Glasgow. In 1983 it was transferred to Ayrshire and Arran Health Board. It provided continuing care beds until around 2006 and since 2009, has been used as the North West Ayrshire Resource Centre by the NHS.

Sources: 

The Scotsman, 8 Sept 1847, p.4: Glasgow Herald, 18 April 1845, p.2; 6 March 1846, p.4; 25 Feb 1848 p.3; 29 May 1848, p.3: Greenock Advertiser, 14 December 1852 p.2: Morning Advertiser, 11 Aug 1865, p.8: Largs & Millport Weekly, 3 July 1897: NHS, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Archives, Victoria Infirmary Annual Reports: S. D. Slater & D. A. Dow, The Victoria Infirmary of Glasgow 1890 -1990, 1990, pp.245-7.

Brechin Infirmary and St Drostan’s House

Prospect of Brechin (detail), by John Slezer from Theatrum Scotiae, 1693. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

On a gloriously sunny day in April I visited Brechin, primarily to see the cathedral with its extraordinary round tower, but while there walked over to Infirmary Street to see what remains of a group of buildings that for so many years took care of the health and welfare of the city: the now-closed Brechin Infirmary, largely of the 1860s, a 1970s Health Centre, the former poorhouse (built in the 1870s) and the remnants of the former infectious diseases hospital (late 1890s). Tucked in behind is a post-war hospital block, added to the site in the early 1960s, and sheltered housing built in the 2000s. This group also lies conveniently between the railway station to the south, and the cemetery to the north.

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Extract from the second edition OS map, revised in 1901, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Brechin Infirmary opened as a general voluntary hospital in 1869, but the sick poor in the city had earlier been served by a dispensary, established in about 1824 following a bequest of £50 from a Mrs Speid of Ardovie. The dispensary supplied medicine and medical attendance to the poor for free, and by the mid-1840s was said to be in a prosperous state. But the new Poor Law had placed all sick paupers under superintendence of the local Parochial Board, which had appointed a surgeon to carry out that task. As a result, ‘only some six or eight patients remain upon the dispensary lists’.[1] Over the years the dispensary’s work diminished, until it closed altogether.

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Extract from the OS Town Plan of Brechin, 1852. The Poorhouse is on City Road near the corner with Damacre Road. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The first poor law institution in Brechin was opened in 1853 in City Road, locally usually known either as the almshouse, poor’s house, or parochial lodging house. It was in a large converted tenement which the Board purchased for £300 in 1852 from a Mr Thomson, writer, of Montrose. A later report suggested that the building had originally been built as a cotton factory, but that when this business failed it was sold to Mr Thomas who converted it into a dwelling house. [2]

In July 1864 plans for a hospital were first made public, after the late James Don, Esquire, of Bearhill, bequeathed £1,000 for the purpose of establishing a hospital or infirmary and dispensary in Brechin on condition that a further £1,000 was raised within 18 months by the local community. Subscriptions to the cause quickly mounted to more than £3,000, including £100 from Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, 2nd Baronet, and his brother, the Hon. R. J. Jejeebhoy. (Perhaps they were approached by someone local, the Jejeebhoys wealth and generous philanthropy, and associations with Britain, were well known.)  The Earl of Dalhousie (Fox Maule-Ramsay, the 11th Earl) offered the site – considered open healthy and with convenient access by three different roads –  at an annual feu-duty of £4 per acre.

Main front of Brechin Infirmary, photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

The hospital was designed by William Fettis or Fetties, and construction was carried out by local builders and craftsmen: Mr Alexander Crabb, mason; Messrs W. Black & Sons, carpenter work; John Lindsay & Son, slaters; J. & J. Thomson, plasterers; and C. Middleton & Sons, plumbers. Their tenders for the work amounted to just over £1,500. [3]

The foundation stone was laid with full Masonic honours in May 1867 when building work was already well underway, and the first storey all but completed. The infirmary building was described at the time as ‘of the plainest description, being wholly formed of rubble work’ apart from the front wall which was ashlar. The plainness of the building was to be alleviated by the garden in front, which was to be finely laid out as pleasure grounds studded with shrubs. A kitchen garden was destined for the rear half of the garden. [4]

West elevation of the infirmary, with later day room in the foreground, photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

In May 1869 the new infirmary was formally opened by the Earl of Dalhousie. The 1901 map shows the infirmary before it was enlarged in the 1920s, with its principal front facing west, and indicating that the garden had been laid out on that side. (The garden was later built over for the present health centre.) Four wards occupied the long north-south wing, two on each floor on either side of the central entrance and with up-to-date cross-ventilated W.C.s, suggesting an awareness of the relatively recent developments in pavilion-plan hospitals on the lines recommended by Florence Nightingale. Two wards were for accidents and two for fever patients.

View of the infirmary looking west to the rear of the earliest part of the building. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

A major renovation, alterations and additions were carried out in 1928-9, for which the architect was David Wishart Galloway. During the work the patients were moved out to Maulesden House. The cost was largely met by a donation of £10,650 from the trustees of the late Sir James Duncan of Kinnettles. Plans were submitted to the Dean of Guild Court in September 1928. It was at this time that the new main entrance was formed, set in the gabled bay, treated as a pediment with oculus and framed by giant pilasters. The new accommodation included four private wards. The contractors were: joiners, Messrs W. Black & Son, Ltd, Brechin; plumbers, Mr J. Davidson; plasterwork, Messrs Burness Montrose; mason, Mr Rennie Brechin; slater, Mr D. Scott, Brechin. In December 1929, following the death of the architect David Galloway in a motorcycle accident, the infirmary directors appointed Maclaren, Soutar & Salmond, who had taken over Galloway’s practice, to see through the reconstruction. [5]

On the vacant land to the east of the infirmary a new poorhouse was built in 1879-80 to designs by James Baxter, architect, Brechin, to accommodate about 80 paupers, 51 being transferred from the old building but the Parochial Board intended also to move most of those receiving outdoor relief into the poorhouse.

South elevation of St Drostan’s House, the former Brechin poorhouse. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

It is in a similarly plain style to the infirmary, although the Brechin Advertiser was curiously impressed with its appearance, describing it as a ‘magnificent building’ that was an ornament and a credit to the town. The article continued:

Poor-houses have too frequently been poor in every sense of the term – poor in architecture, poor in conveniences, poor in comfort. It will be seen, however, … that the new Poor-house of Brechin possesses not only the external appearance, but all the internal appliances of a modern mansion-house. [6]

According to the same article, the architect’s plan for the poorhouse had been commended for its simplicity of design and conveniences and comfort in its internal arrangements. These comprised a room on either side of the entrance door for the Matron, and beyond these separate stairs to the upper floor.  A corridor ran the length of the building on both floors. On the ground floor, on the north side of the central corridor, were two large sick rooms and two sitting rooms, and on the south side a spacious dining hall. Store rooms and bathrooms were placed at either end, a large kitchens was at the east end of the dining room. On the upper floor were the sleeping wards, and here the corridor had a glazed partition half way along separating the males from the females.

Rear view of St Drostan’s House, looking west, behind is the eastern end of Brechin Infirmary. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

The out buildings included a probationary ward, washing-houses, ash pits, and coal cellars. Once the new poorhouse had been completed and the inmates moved from the old building in City Road, the latter was put up for sale. It was bought by Mr J. L. Gordon, the Town Clerk, for £541, on behalf of the Town Council, with the intention of converting it into a model lodging house. [7]

Block to the rear of St Drostan’s House, one of the original out-buildings. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

A further report in the Brechin Advertiser following the opening of the new poorhouse, continued the enthusiastic spirit of the previous account, noting the ‘tasteful and imposing appearance’ of the main frontage, and approving of the introduction of mullioned windows  to relieve the ‘baldness that might otherwise have characterise the house’. The garden had been laid out under the superintendence of Mr Annandale of the nearby Den Nursery, and the contractors were listed as: Mr J. Cribb, mason; Messrs Black & Son, joiners; Mr Masson, plasterer; Messrs Kinnear & Son, plumbers; Mr W. Bruce, painter; and Mr J. Davidson, slater – all of Brechin. [8]

South front of the former poorhouse or Parochial Lodging House, with the mullioned windows on the upper floor in the gabled bays. The bay windows on the ground floor are post-war additions. When new sheltered housing was built to the rear in the early 2000s the  former poorhouse was converted to offices, but is currently empty. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

The next development of the medical services in Brechin was the establishment of an isolation hospital in the 1890s. Infectious cases, or ‘fever patients’ had up until then been cared for in the infirmary, but in times of epidemic there was insufficient accommodation there. In February 1893 an outbreak of smallpox at the Forfar and Brechin Railway huts at a time when the fever ward in the infirmary was already full prompted the Police Commission in Brechin – responsible for public health – to meet with the directors of the Infirmary to consider providing either a permanent or temporary hospital for infectious diseases. In 1895 the Brechin Police Commissioners joined forces with the District Committee and were on the search for a site. They discussed commissioning plans and estimates for a new hospital. The site must have been acquired by the end of August 1897 when an advertisement was placed in the Dundee Evening Telegraph for ‘Bricklayers (a Few Good) wanted. Apply New Hospital, Brechin’. [9]

Detail from the 25-inch OS map revised in 1922, showing the infectious diseases hospital to the north-west of the Infirmary. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The plans were drawn up by T. Martin Cappon, architect, Dundee. A caretaker was appointed in 1898, the building work probably completed by then. The hospital comprised three detached blocks, probably the administrative building, which would also have contained some staff accommodation, and two ward blocks.

Probably a block from the former isolation hospital, to the rear of Brechin Infirmary, photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

Another building on its own to the north (pictured above and below), may have been the service block containing disinfecting chambers, with boilers and disinfectors, wash-house, mortuary and stores. Thomas Martin Cappon went on to design the Forfar County Hospital in 1899. [10] 

Surviving building from the former infectious diseases hospital. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

Post-War Changes

By 1940 the infectious diseases hospital had been converted into accommodation for the aged and infirm, but by 1950 it had been closed. The Eastern Regional Hospital Board recommended retaining the buildings for accommodation for nurses and for storage, releasing a hut at the infirmary which might be used for 30 chronic sick patients. [11]

Extract from the 1:1,250 OS map revised in 1965. This shows the 1920s extension to the infirmary, and the large post-war addition pictured below. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

At the infirmary itself the largest addition since the 1920s was made in 1958-60, when the large wing to the north was added. A bequest of nearly £14,000 from Mrs Agnes Pederson, a Brechin woman in America, was used to provide new kitchen premises, out-patients’ and physiotherapy departments, alterations to staff quarters and a day room for geriatric patients between the new accommodation blocks. [12]

A spliced photo showing the south-east front of the post-war hospital extension. Photographed in April 2019 © H. Richardson

The health centre was built in about 1971, and was the first to be built in Angus.[13]

See also RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, drawings collection, for the infectious diseases hospital and  www.workhouses.org for St Drostan’s House.

  1. Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire advertiser, 13 Feb 1846, p.5
  2. Brechin Advertiser, 14 Sept 1852, p.2: 2 March 1880, p.2
  3. Dundee Courier, 23 Aug 1864, p.4; 12 Dec 1865, p.4; 19 Dec 1866, p.4: Dundee Advertiser, 29 Dec 1864, p.3
  4. Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire advertiser, 19 April 1867, p.4: Dundee Courier, 6 May 1867, p.4
  5. Brechin Advertiser, 5 June 1928, p.5: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 20 Sept 1928, p.5: Dundee Courier, 10 Oct 1928, p.5; 11 Dec 1929, p.6Dundee Evening Telegraph, 11 Dec 1929, p.10
  6. Brechin Advertiser, 2 March 1880, p.2
  7. Brechin Advertiser,  16 March 1880, p.2
  8. Brechin Advertiser, 16 March 1880, p.3
  9. Dundee Courier, 1 Feb 1893, p.3: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 12 April 1893, p.5; 19 Aug 1896, p.6Dundee Advertiser, 10 April 1895, p.2; 23 Oct 1896, p.2Dundee Evening Telegraph, 25 Aug 1897, p.3
  10. Dundee Courier, 6 July 1897, p.3; 4 Oct 1899, p.4: Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for Buchan District, 28 Aug 1898, p.4
  11. Dundee Courier, 26 Jan 1950, p.4
  12. Brechin Advertiser, 2 Dec 1958, p.5
  13. Aberdeen P&J, 16 Feb 1971, p.31

 

The Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway, and its forebears

Memorial stained-glass panel in the Western Isles Hospital, depicting the Lewis Hospital on the right and the County Hospital to the left, both closed when the new general hospital opened. © H. Richardson

The Outer Hebrides are served by one general hospital in Stornoway on the Island of Lewis – the Western Isles Hospital. It was designed and built by the Common Services Agency and opened to patients in 1992. The hospital was designed to replace two much older hospitals: the Lewis Hospital and the County Hospital.

The Western Isles Hospital, photographed in January 2019, © H. Richardson

The County Hospital had been built by the Red Cross during the First World War as the Lewis Sanatorium, and after the war was transferred to the local authority. The Lewis Hospital was built in 1893-6 on Goathill Road. Before the advent of the National Health Service, there was also Mossend Fever Hospital, built by Stornoway Town Council in 1876, which contained 12 beds, and the Lewis Combination Poorhouse, opened in 1897, which took in sick paupers and manageable cases of the mentally infirm.

Memorial plaques from the Lewis Hospital preserved in the present hospital. © H. Richardson

In 1904 the Lewis Hospital also contained twelve beds, but its capacity was increased to twenty when the building was enlarged in 1912. A consultant surgeon was appointed in 1924, partly funded by the Scottish Board of Health under the Highlands and Islands Medical Service. A further grant from the Board helped to fund an extension to the hospital that opened in 1928. At the time, this was heralded as the first step in the realisation of a perfect hospital service for the Outer Hebrides as envisaged by the Dewar Commission of 1912, which first outlined the Highlands and Islands Medical Service. Seen by many as a precursor of the National Health Service itself, the Service extended state-funding of health care beyond the responsibilities for the care of the destitute sick, the mentally ill and the control of infectious diseases.

The former County Hospital, photographed in September 1993, reproduced by permission of Kathryn Morrison © K. Morrison

The works done in the 1920s included improvements to the water and electricity supplies, the installation of central heating to replace peat and coal fires, X-ray plant, a new operating theatre, light treatment – including artificial sunlight treatment – enlarged kitchens and improvements to staff accommodation.

With a population of over 32,000 on Lewis and Harris, scattered over a wide area, the difficulties of communications and the different way of life of the people presented the singular circumstances necessitating state intervention. According to the reporter for The Scotsman:

 ‘Until the advent of the motor car, medical practice in these parts was on a very limited scale, and to this day the superstitious practices of former generations still linger in the hereditary healers and village bone-setters. Until quite recent days the idea of an hospital universally held was that of a place where people went only to die. As a result, the mere suggestion of hospital treatment was opposed with the same vigour that city patients resist the poorhouse.’ [1]

This may have been true, but the annual report of the hospital back in 1899 painted a rather different picture; 70 patients had been treated during the past year, of whom only three died. The yearly number of admittances was increasing, most being from the island, but 18 patients were ‘strangers … whose home residence extended from Reikjavik, in Iceland, to Sidmouth, on the Devonshire coast’. Nearly all of these were fishermen or sailors. In 1923 fewer than 100 cases were admitted to hospital, but in the following year, after the appointment of the consultant surgeon, 375 patients were treated and 350 operations performed.

The former Lewis Hospital, photographed in September 1993, reproduced by permission of Kathryn Morrison © K. Morrison

In 1964 the Secretary of State for Scotland appointed a committee to review the general medical services in the Highlands and Islands. Under the NHS the areas formerly covered by the Highlands and Islands Medical Scheme were now administered by three separate regional hospital boards: the North Eastern, based on Aberdeen, took care of Orkney and Shetland; the Western, based in Glasgow, oversaw the counties of Argyll and Bute; and the Northern, centred on Inverness, took care of everywhere else. The Regional Hospital Boards appointed boards of management to run groups of hospitals (or, in some cases, individual hospitals). The Lews and Harris board of management was responsible for the Lewis and County Hospitals in Stornoway.

The County Hospital,  from the 1:1,250 OS Map revised in 1964. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Then, as now, one of the biggest challenges to the health service was providing for the elderly, and one of the inherent flaws of the NHS was (and still is) the division of responsibility between the NHS and local authorities. In 1966 the Chairman of the Northern Regional Hospital Board commented on ‘the nebulous boundary’ between the two, noting that where responsibility is shared between two types of authority ‘each of whom would have no difficulty in finding good alternative uses for any resources currently required for care of the elderly, there is a natural inclination for each to feel that the other ought to carry more of the burden’. [2]

The Lewis Hospital as extended, from the 1:1,250 OS Map revised in 1964. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Between 1948 and 1960 around £100,000 was spent on additions to the Lewis Hospital. In 1950 work had begun on a new maternity unit, nursing staff quarters and an out-patient department. In the mid-1960s Lewis Hospital had 83 beds, 46 for general surgery, 24 for general medicine and 13 for maternity cases. the County Hospital had 89 beds, 50 for the chronic sick, 35 for respiratory tuberculosis and four for infectious diseases.

Following the re-orgnisation of the NHS in 1974  which abolished the old regions and introduced a larger number of new area health boards, the islands of Harris and Lewis were managed by the Western Isles Health Board. In 1978 the Board outlined the need for a new district general hospital, on the site of the Lewis Hospital, but recognising that this was likely to be a long-term goal, it proposed that in the mean time a new operating theatre should be built. The Common Services Agency (CSA) had by then already drawn up a development plan for the Lewis Hospital, but the medical staff in Lewis criticised some of its elements: the theatre was not on the same level as the main surgical ward, the out-patient department was too small, and generally the plans left no room for further expansion. The Aberdeen Press & Journal reported that the CSA apologised for the plans, explaining they were only basic block plans aimed at demonstrating that it was possible to add the required facilities to the existing site, incurring as little interference to the ongoing work of the hospital as possible. The CSA ‘were not proud of the plans but were open to suggestions’. [3]

By May 1980 the Health Board had drawn up a list of their requirements for the new hospital, suggesting at least 280 beds be provided, comprising 30 medical beds – including provision for infectious diseases and intensive nursing; 48 surgical beds, including 8 for orthopaedic cases, 10 gynaecological beds, 8 for children plus four cots, two for the staff sick bay, 14 maternity, 90 geriatric beds and 30 beds for acute psychiatric patients.

The inclusion of beds for psychiatric patients reflected current NHS policy and the terms of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act of 1960 (and the Mental Health Act of 1959 covering England and Wales), . The new network of district general hospitals were to cater for general medical, surgical and psychiatric patients. This policy had evolved from a recognition that the existing mental hospitals did not provide the best environment for new cases. This was in part due to the institutional character of the large Victorian mental hospitals, but also the difficulties of attracting good mental health nursing staff, together with the stigma attached to mental illness in general and the old ‘lunatic asylums’ in particular. In the Western Isles the problems were exacerbated by the distance to the only psychiatric hospital serving the whole of the Highlands and Islands: Craig Dunain Hospital at Inverness. In 1979 more than 100 patients from the islands were in care at Craig Dunain. The new hospital in Stornoway was therefore to include a psychiatric unit, though links to Craig Dunain were to be retained given the number of specialist psychiatric fields.

Main entrance of the Western Isles Hospital, photographed in January 2019 © H. Richardson

Formal approval to build the new hospital complex was granted in 1986, and work was underway by 1991. It took two years to build and cost £32m.  Although the first patients were admitted in September 1992, the official opening took place the following March, performed by Prince Charles (as Lord of the Isles). The Prince was welcomed to the hospital by the chairman of the Western Isles Health Board, Marie MacMillan, and was given a comprehensive tour of the facilties and chatted to staff and patients. He then unveiled a plaque in the main concourse area. [4]

References:

  1. The Scotsman, 4 May 1928, p.8
  2. Parliamentary Papers: Scottish Home and Health Department, General Medical Services in the Highlands and Islands, Report of a committee appointed by the secretary of State for Scotland, June 1967. Cmnd. 3257
  3. Aberdeen Press & Journal, 24 May 1978, p.26
  4. Slàinte, NHS Western Isles Staff Magazine, Winter 2012, p.4

Sources:

North Star and Farmers’ Chronicle, 23 Feb 1899, p.6: Dundee Courier, 3 Feb 1904, p.1:: Department of Health for Scotland, Annual Reports:Aberdeen Press & Journal, 21 Feb 1979, p.27; 16 May 1979: The Guardian, 15 Oct 1986, p.31: Nicola MacArthur,  ‘The origins and development of the Lewis Hospitals’, Hektoen International, A journal of Medical Humanities, Spring 2017: NHS Eileanan Siar Western Isles 70 Years

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 10.25.44

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

Dundee Women’s Hospital

South Front of the former hospital, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

On the slopes of Balgay Hill to the west of Dundee sits the former Dundee Women’s Hospital. Since it closed in the 1970s it has been converted into private flats. One was for sale when I visited the site in February this year. On a sunny day it is a pleasing building, in a quiet, understated Scottish Arts & Crafts style, with cream-painted harling and twin gables enclosing a balcony and verandah. It was designed by a local architect, James Findlay, and was opened on 24 February 1915.

Detail view of the central balcony and verandah, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

The hospital began as a dispensary for women, established in Dundee in about 1891. In October 1895 a committee was formed to consider establishing a small cottage hospital. In the following year the hospital was opened at 19 Seafield Road, near the Tayfield jute works. It claimed to be the first private hospital in Scotland for the treatment of women by women medical practitioners. Three women were the chief promoters of the scheme: the social reformer Mary Lily Walker, Dr Alice Moorhead and Dr Emily Thomson. The aim was not only to provide hospital treatment for women who wished to be treated by women, but also a private home for women with limited means.

By 1911 it had been decided to build a new hospital. Fund-raising events were held, at first with the idea of enlarging the existing building, but Beatrice Sharp offered £4,000 to build a new hospital. A memorial recording her gift can still be seen set into the boundary wall. Beatrice Sharp was the wife of a wealthy industrialist and together they had commissioned Sir Robert Lorimer to rebuild Wemysshall in Fife, creating Hill of Tarvit House in 1907.

Memorial plaque on boundary wall, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

Plans for the new hospital were approved by the Town Council in 1912 and two years later the building was completed. However, on the eve of the hospital’s opening a fire broke out causing major damage and destroying all the woodwork. It took another year or so to restore and rebuild the hospital.

The fire was not accidental. It was reputedly an arson attack by suffragettes – a rather surprising target perhaps. The artist and suffragette, Ethel Moorhead was the sister of Alice Moorhead, one of the founders of the hospital. Ethel Moorhead was connected with a number of arson attacks and other militant acts – from smashing windows in London to throwing an egg at Winston Churchill. But she was also the first suffragette in Scotland to be force fed while in prison in Edinburgh in February 1914. Although she was seriously ill after this, she recovered and continued campaigning. It was suggested that she was with her friend and collaborator Fanny Parker in a failed attempt to blow up Burns Cottage in Alloway in July 1914.

Former Dundee Women’s Hospital,  photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

Whether or not she was behind the attack on the Dundee Women’s Hospital does not seem to be recorded. Suffragette literature was found in the neighbourhood and a message was left at the scene that read: ‘no peace till we get the vote. Blame the King and the Government’, the same message left at similar incidents all over the country. [1] The fire was spotted by a nurse at the nearby Victoria Hospital who raised the alarm. It was reported that late the previous night and early on the morning of the fire, a grey, or slate-coloured motor car was seen in the district containing several women. The night watchman on duty at the hospital also reported seeing three women having a look at the place early one morning after the fire. He thought that they might be ‘of a mind to return to complete their work’ . It was early dawn and the light uncertain. On seeing the watchman the women quickly disappeared. They appeared to be ‘young and well dressed’. [2] The timing was unfortunate for the hospital-  the attack was made in early June, not long before the outbreak of the First World War, after which the suffragettes suspended their campaign.

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

While the rebuilding work was carried out, the hospital moved into temporary accommodation at 19 Windsor Street. At the end of February 1915 the new hospital was officially opened. The two storey building set on high ground with commanding views south over the Tay provided twenty beds. On the ground floor at the east end was a sun room: ‘an ideal little nook … where the convalescents can have a sun-bath at their leisure’. [3] The covered verandah and balcony above were deep enough to allow beds to be pushed out onto them. Inside cream distempering set off brown woodwork, while palms and flowering bulbs adorned the corridors.

Extract from the 25-inch OS map surveyed in 1951-2. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland. This shows extensions to the original building to the north west. 

James Findlay, the architect of the hospital, was born in Alyth, Perthshire, the son of a successful grocer and baker. He was married to Margaret Ann Donaldson, who died in October 1916. Findlay had been articled to John Murray Robertson in Dundee and took over the practice when Robertson died in 1901. Findlay’s chief assistant was David Smith who had worked in the London County Council’s Architect’s Department in 1902-3. While in London, Smith studied at the influential Regent Street Polytechnic and later joined the office of Leonard Stokes before returning to Dundee. He was responsible for much of the design work in Findlay’s practice. Findlay himself was one of the first people in Dundee to own a motor car. He appears in the local press on several occasions for minor traffic offences – he was fined a guinea for exceeding a 10-mile-per-hour speed limit in 1912.

The contractors, like the architects, were almost all local: building work was carried out by James R Anderson, bricklayer, builder and contractor,  E Esplanade, (whose home address in a 1912 directory was given as 4 Morgan Street); the joiners were Alexander Bruce & Son, Victoria Joinery Works, 129 Clepington Road; the plumbers John Orr & Son, registered plumbers and sanitary engineers, 272 Hawkhill; workshop, 31A Ryehill Lane (home 290 Balckness road): slater and harl work, William Brand & Son, slaters and cement workers, St Vincent Street, Broughty Ferry: glazier work, Lindsay & Scott, glass merchants, glaziers, and zinc and lead window makers, 24 to 28 Bank Street, branch 86 Victoria road: painter work, Allan Boath, painter and decorator, 141 and 143 Nethrgate, home – 171 Perth Road: grates, G. H. Nicoll & Co., furnishing and general ironmongers, 18 and 20 Bank Street: heating, Henry Walker & Son, Newcastle: Verandah ironwork, Thomas Russell, smith and engineer, St Andrew’s Iron works, 50 and 52 St Andrew’s street, home – 8 Nelson Terrace: gates and railings, George Mann, blacksmith, 40 Seafield Road: walls, William Bennet, builder and contractor, 41 Reform street, yard , 11 Parker street, home – 93 Arbroath road: roads, David Horsburgh, carting contractor, 65 Trades lane home – Eden villa, 83 Clepington Rd: grounds, James Laurie & Son, landscape gardeners & valuators, Blackness Nursery.

 

This advertisement for James Laurie & Son, who laid out the grounds of the hospital, appeared in the Dundee Directory for 1911-12, reproduced from the National Library of Scotland

The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and latterly became an annexe of the Royal Infirmary. It closed in 1975 but was retained by Tayside Health Board until the 1980s when it was sold with outline planning permission for redevelopment. Full permission to convert the hospital into flats was granted to the new owners, Hilltown Property Company, in 1988.

Notes: 1. The Suffragette, 5 June 1914: 2. Dundee People’s Journal, 6 June 1914 p.9: 3. Dundee Courier, 25 Feb 1915, p.4.

Sources: Dundee University Archives, plans: Dundee Courier, 9 Dec 1911, p.624 Feb 1915, p.6, 4 Oct 1916, p.6: Wikipedia: Dundee online planning portal: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 23 May 1914, p.7;  Dundee Evening Telegraph, 9 Nov 1904, p.5; 21 Oct 1907, p.3; 13 Sept 1912, 15 Oct 1913, p.2; Dundee People’s Journal, 30 May 1914, p.9; 7 Oct 1916, p.11; Perthshire Advertiser, 10 March 1943, p.8

 

Adamson Hospital, Cupar, Fife

The Adamson Hospital, photographed in December 2017 © H. Richardson

The Adamson Hospital in Fife’s County Town of Cupar is a modest, quietly attractive Edwardian building with a bold modern wing added in 2012. It first opened in 1904, but this was not the beginning of its history. Like so many historic hospitals it had a shaky start, but unusually it began in a fine purpose built hospital erected in the 1870s. Its only fault was location – it was built on the outskirts of the picturesque village of Ceres, about 3 miles to the south of Cupar. Its isolated position and inadequate support from local doctors proved its downfall, it operated for just six years as a hospital and then lay empty until it was acquired by the Leith Fortnightly Holiday Scheme.

Postcard of the first Adamson Cottage Hospital, reproduced courtesy of Ian Lindsay © Ian Lindsay, Postcard13

The original hospital, named the Adamson Institute (sometimes also called the Adamson Institution), photographed in December 2017 © H. Richardson

Alexander Adamson, after whom the hospital was named, was a manufacturer in Ceres, ‘in the halcyon days of handloom weaving’ (according to the St Andrews Citizen). [1] He died in 1866 a wealthy man, bequeathing the residue of his estate for the purpose of founding either a school or a hospital in or near Cupar. His seven trustees were personal friends and were mostly from Ceres, and when they decided upon building a hospital, they chose Ceres as its location. Thus the Adamson Institute  or Institution as it was variously known was built in 1872-3 to designs by the Cupar architect David Milne. A portrait of the founder, painted by Charles Lees, was to be hung on its walls.  

Detail of the centre gable and flanking dormer heads – the latter carved with the date 1872, photographed in December 2017 © H. Richardson

Surviving today, though now converted into private flats, the former Adamson Institution is a handsome building, not obviously a hospital in its outward appearance. This was common enough for cottage hospitals, particularly the earlier ones, which deliberately aimed to present a more domestic appearance than the often dour poor law infirmaries designed with Nightingale-style ward blocks. Cottage hospitals treated a broader spectrum of society, were generally operated by the local general practitioners and sometimes charged a small fee to in-patients. The Ceres building fits neatly into this pattern. Its architect was local, as were the builders and craftsmen who worked on it: the builder was from Ceres, Robert Nicholson, as was the joiner, William Younger; the plumber was Mrs Steele from Cupar; William Bryson of Cupar was the plasterer; Francis Batchelor, the slater, was also from Cupar; the lather, John Burns was from St Andrews as was the bell hanger, James Foulis. [2]

The map is not very clearly labelled. The ‘Adamson’s Institute’ is the large building to the right of the lettering, marked with a small circle. Detail from the 2nd Edition 25-inch OS map, revised in 1893. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Just fifteen patients could be accommodated in eight bedrooms, three on the ground floor and five on the first floor, and there was a sitting room on each floor for the use of ambulant patients. The board room was to double as an operating room and there was the usual accommodation for staff and services. Although the building was completed in 1873 and Dr Blair of Strathkinness appointed as its medical officer, it is unclear whether it received any patients in the early years. Dr Blair left the district in 1876, and in 1877 the Trustees were advertising for a nurse, who would also act as a Housekeeper and Cook, for the hospital which was ‘about to be opened’. [3]

This 1912 map marks the Leith Holiday Home (it is the large building some distance to the right of the label). Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

In 1883 the trustees were forced to close the hospital. Various efforts were made by the local authorities to acquire the building as an infectious diseases hospital, but these were rejected by the Adamson Trustees. In 1895 it was leased to the committee of the Leith Fortnightly Holiday Scheme, providing under-privileged town children with a ‘fresh-air-fortnight’. The first fifty children were sent here in July 1896. The building was finally purchased by the Scheme in 1901. (Later it became known as Alwyn House, an employment rehabilitation centre run by the RNIB.) 

Postcard of the Adamson Cottage Hospital

Meanwhile the need for a cottage hospital in Cupar was becoming increasingly pressing, in particular for cases of severe injury due to accidents. This became critical in 1899 when the place to which accidents or special cases of illness were taken was taken over by the burgh and made into an infectious diseases hospital, closing its doors to all other cases. Other patients had to suffer the long journey to Edinburgh for admission to the Royal Infirmary. Members of Cupar’s Sick Poor Nursing Association were instrumental in finally getting a cottage hospital in the town. In April 1899 they opened a small hospital-come-nursing home at Moat Hill. Pressure was also put on the Adamson Trustees to fulfil their original requirements. The decision to sell the Ceres building to the Leith Holiday Home Committee and buy or rent a building to be called the Adamson Hospital ‘in a more suitable place’ was narrowly voted through at a meeting of the Trustees in February 1901. [4]

The original part of the Adamson Cottage Hospital, photographed in December 2017 © H. Richardson

After obtaining plans from three local men: Henry BruceDavid Storrar and Henry Allan Newman, Newman was appointed and work progressed quickly. The contractors for the work were mostly from Cupar or Cupar Muir: J. Stark, mason; Thomas Donaldson, joiner; A. Stewart, plumber; Messsrs M’Intosh & Son, plasterers and slaters; John Randall, painter; C. Edmond, glazer; R. Dott Thomson supplied the grates and A. Douglas of Dundee electric bells. The furnishing was carried out by W & J. Muckersie, the window blinds by Hood & Robertson, both of Cupar. [5]

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1912, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The hospital opened in December 1904. There was no formal opening ceremony, but the local press published a sketch of the new hospital after a drawing by the architect, and carried a full description of the building. On the ground floor, to the left of the main entrance, was the female ward and a bedroom and sitting room for the matron, while in the equivalent position to the right was the male ward, the Yeomanry Ward, and an operating room. Kitchens etc were to the rear, nurses’ and staff accommodation in the attic. The Yeomanry Ward was a memorial to members of the 20th Company of the Imperial Yeomanry who served in the Boer War and was paid for by funds raised by Sir John Gilmour. [5]

The new wing of the Adamson Cottage Hospital. Photographed in December 2017 © H. Richardson

Since its opening in 1904 several extensions and additions were made on the site. Most recently in 2011-12 a new health centre was added to the west of the original building and the original hospital reconfigured by JMArchitects for Glenrothes and North East Fife Community Health Partnership (GNEF CHP) with Ogilvie Construction Ltd. This work entailed clearing away some of the later extensions to the hospital.

  1. St Andrews Citizen, 2 March 1901, p.6
  2. Fife Herald, 2 Oct 1873, p.2
  3. Fife Herald, 27 Sept 1877, p.1
  4. Dundee Courier, 27 Feb 1901, p.7
  5. St Andrews Citizen, 12 Nov 1904, p.6

Sources: Fife Health Board: Minute Books: The Courier, 26 Nov 2012: a booklet has been produced by Cupar Heritage on the history of the hospital (which I haven’t yet seen).

 

Dundee Royal Infirmary, now Regents Gardens

Postcard showing the principal south elevation of the Royal Infirmary

Dundee Royal Infirmary closed in 1998, commemorative plaques and other items from the infirmary were transferred to Ninewells Hospital which replaced the infirmary as Dundee’s general and teaching hospital. Since then the original building and the main later additions have been converted into housing, renamed Regents Gardens, completed in 2008 by H & H Properties. The original planning brief for the site was approved before the infirmary had even closed, in 1996. The masterplan was approved in 2000, amended the following year. The architects for the conversion were the local firm of Kerr Duncan MacAllister.

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Aerial photograph of the site in 2010 from RCAHMS

Listed Grade A, the original infirmary, now Regents House, was the last of the former hospital buildings to be tackled. It was reconfigured to provide 63 apartments, with ground-floor flats some having individual main door entrances, and the high-ceilinged flats on the upper two floors featuring galleries looking over the living-rooms. Caird House (listed Grade B, built in 1902-7 as the cancer wing), was turned into 22 apartments and 5 pent-house flats; Dalgleish House, the 1890s nurses’ home, provided 19 apartments; Loftus house, which was originally the Caird Maternity Home and later a nurses’ home, was converted into six town houses; and the small Gilroy House was converted into two houses.

This view of Dundee Royal Infirmary from the Law shows the former Cancer Wing, photographed in 2005 by TheCreator, public domain image on Spanish Wikipedia’s entry for Dundee.

The old wash-house and drying green to the east of the infirmary was built up with housing as part of the redevelopment of the infirmary site. The wash-house itself had been demolished and replaced by the Constitution Campus tower of Dundee College in the 1960s (opened in 1970). By 2015 this was closed and awaiting redevelopment as flats with a cinema, gym, office space etc., known as Vox Dundee (why? who comes up with these names? I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation).

Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map surveyed in 1872. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Dundee Royal Infirmary was officially opened on 7 February 1855, having been completed towards the end of 1854. It was designed by Coe & Goodwin of London. This building replaced the earlier infirmary built in the 1790s in King Street. By 1849 a committee had been appointed to select a site for the new infirmary and a competition was held for the plans. The eminent medical Professors James Syme and Robert Christison of Edinburgh were consulted in the selection of the winning design, and had also supplied a block plan of the necessary arrangements when designs were first invited. Although 30 sets of plans had been submitted by the summer of 1851, only three were considered acceptable and put on display. The Northern Warder was scathing in its criticism of the majority of the plans, which it thought must have been produced by ‘aspiring joiners’ hoping to win the £50 prize for the winning design.

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The main front of the hospital photographed around 1875 from Dundee Valentine Album, RCAHMS

Coe and Goodwin’s design was for a hospital of three storeys on a U‑shaped plan. It was of the corridor type of plan which was generally current before the introduction of the pavilion‑plan. Indeed, it was built in the declining years of corridor-plan hospitals, lending irony to Professor Syme’s description of it as ‘a model after which institutions similar in kind might well be constructed’. It is a bold essay in the Tudor style applied to a large public building (claimed to be the largest public building in Dundee at that time).  David Robertson, a local builder was appointed to erect the building and work was commenced in 1852.

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This more detailed plan is from the OS Town Plans, also of 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Many extensions were built and sister institutions provided, one of the first was a convalescent home at Barnhill built in 1873-7  (since demolished). Problems associated with the plan had to be rectified – the chief of these being the sanitary facilities. One of the key aspects of pavilion-plan hospitals was the placement of the WCs, sinks and baths in rooms that were separated from the ward by a short lobby with windows on each side. This created a through-draught and was designed to prevent ‘offensive effluvia’ from being carried into the ward – bad smells or miasmas that were believed to cause disease. Plans to improve these and to build a new wash-house and laundry were prepared, and other similar institutions visited so as to provide the best and most up-to-date conveniences.

Plan of Dundee, 1906, by William Mackison, Burgh Engineer. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The plan of Dundee above marks the principal additions built to the north of the original hospital in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These have been retained and converted to housing. To the left is the nurses’ home, built in 1896-7 and named after Sir William Ogilvy Dalgliesh, president of the hospital and benefactor of the University’s Medical School. On the right hand side is the Caird Maternity Hospital, designed in 1897 and opened in 1900, named after its benefactor, the jute baron (Sir) James Key Caird. Though marked here as a maternity hospital it served a dual function, with one block for maternity cases and one for diseases of women; the third, central block contained administrative offices and staff residences. It was designed by Murray Robertson. Caird also funded  the cancer wing, built in 1902-7 to designs by James Findlay.

Detail from the OS plan of Dundee surveyed in 1952, showing the extent of the infill building. At this time the public wash-house and allotment gardens still occupied the site to the east. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The map above shows the extent of the extensions and additions to the site up to the 1950s, many of these were demolished following the closure of the infirmary. These included an extension to the west rear wing of 1895 providing a new operating theatre. Another building removed was the maternity wing, which had been opened in 1930, erected and equipped by R. B. Sharp and his brother F. B. Sharp of Hill of Tarvit, Fife (pictured below, and labelled maternity hospital on the map above). The architects were D. W. Baxter & Son. After it was built the former Caird Maternity Hospital was turned into nurses’ accommodation. A further addition providing new dispensary and pathology departments was opened in 1935, named the Sir James Duncan building.

This rather gloomy photograph shows the maternity wing in about 1989-91. It was a plain enough building but the assorted bits of piping, ducting and plant added to the roof and meandering over the wall surface do it no favours. Photograph © Harriet Richardson

This view shows the main front with the maternity wing to the right. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

The grand centrepiece of the original infirmary with steps leading up to the main entrance. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Detail of main infirmary building, showing the end bays of main front with angle turret on the return. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Looking west along the main front towards the entrance. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Sources: Henry J. C. Gibson, Dundee Royal Infirmary 1798-1948… 1948: Dundee City Archives: The Builder, 23 Aug. 1851, p.529, 16 Oct 1897, p.312; Dundee Courier, 13 April 1895, p.3; 10 March 1896, p.6; 11 Dec 1977, p.4; Dundee Evening Post, 9 Dec 1901, p.4; Dundee Evening Telegraph, 13 Sept 1897, p.2: Dictionary of Scottish Architects; Unlocking the Medicine Chest: PGL ForfarshireThe Scotsman, 23 March 1900, p.4; 16 July 1935, p.7:

For more information on Sir James Caird see the James Caird Society

 

Inverness District Asylum (former Craig Dunain Hospital)

Inverness District Asylum, otherwise known as the Northern Counties Asylum, opened in 1864. Latterly it was renamed Craig Dunain Hospital and treated patients suffering from mental illness until 2000. Since then parts of the building have been converted to housing, while the rest awaits restoration.

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Craig Dunain Hosiptal (Inverness District Lunatic Asylum), photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

The imposing main building, mostly of three storeys, is enlivened by gabled bays and, at the centre, bold twin square towers. It was designed by James Matthews of Aberdeen, who had also established an office in Inverness some ten years earlier. The Inverness office was run by Willliam Lawrie, and Lawrie assisted Mathews in the asylum commission. Mathews had experience in designing poorhouses, and was also architect to the Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness.

The former Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed from the old golf course in 2005. © Copyright Ivor MacKenzie and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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.

Craig Dunain Hospital, AeroPictorial Ltd photograph from 1952. the large building in the foreground on the right-hand side of the photograph was the nurses’ home.

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 architectural plans. Designs were invited from James Matthews, who secured the commission, Peddie and Kinnear of Edinburgh and the York architect George Fowler Jones.

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

Construction took several years, beginning in 1859. The contractors were Greig & Co. of Aberdeen, masons; A. Duff, Inverness, carpenter; J Gordon of Elgin, plumber; John Russell of Inverness, slater; Mr Hogg of Montrose, plasterer; and Smith & MacKay of Inverness, ironwork. The stone used was rubble whinstone and dressed stone from Tarradale on the Black Isle. 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 first medical superintendent was Dr Aitken, who was accommodated in a ‘commodious and pleasantly-situated house near the Asylum’. This was to the south of institution, screened from view by a belt of trees.

The Medical Superintendent’s House, photographed in 2000. © RCAHMS

George Anderson, solicitor, was Clerk to the Board of Lunacy, the Matron was Mrs Probyn. Mr C. W. Laing was the house-steward, Mr Macrae the head male attendant, Mr Logan the engineer, Mr Finlay the grieve, or steward. [1]

Detail of the extract from the first-edition OS map surveyed in 1868 (above). Turned round to show the main range of the former asylum in greater detail. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The asylum was a palatial building, standing on a magnificent raised site. It was built to the standard scale and plan at this date, being a development of the corridor plan. 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. There was an extensive view taking in the Moray Firth, the light-houses of Lossiemouth and Tarbetness. All round the asylum the hillside was ‘gorgeously covered with gorse or whin’ – but was destined to be turned into farmland to serve the institution.

Craig Dunain Hosiptal, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

The central section separated the female (east side) and male (west side) divisions. Nearest to the centre were convalescent wards, then at right angles to these were single rooms for the severest cases. Beyond these was an infirmary ward, with a degree of separation from the rest of the building to contain the spread of infectious diseases.

Interior of the main north-south ‘corridor’, this broad space served as a day room, photographed c.1902. © RCAHMS

At the back of the building ran the main staff corridor, which meant that visitors and staff didn’t have to pass through the patients’ day rooms to get from one part of the asylum to another. This was one of the many attempts around this time to design asylums that would provide a more home-like appearance, while still keeping the patients supervised. ‘Everything tending to indicate seclusion or imprisonment is carefully avoided. The windows resemble those of an ordinary dwelling house; there are no cross-bars, and no enclosure walls, beyond those which surround the airing-yards for the worst of cases’. [1]

Day room, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

The gas-brackets were designed in such a way that if they were broken the gas supply could be isolated, thus keeping the rest of the system in operation. (The gas was manufactured on the premises.) Other safety precautions included blunt table-knives, which could thus be ‘harmlessly seized by the blade, and wrested from the grasp of nay excited patient’.[1]

Female day room, ward 7, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

As part of the important measures to guard against the hazards of fire, the asylum was constructed with a series of barriers, 80 to 90 feet apart, consisting of a thick, stone party wall with iron sliding doors to allow access from one section to another, but which could be drawn closed in the event of fire.

Interior view of specimen ward, photographed about 1902.© RCAHMS. This appears to be a male dormitory  – possibly an infirmary ward.

The day rooms were supplied with books and newspapers, and there was a piano from the outset, though the one in the photograph above may have been a later instrument. Patients slept in a mix of wards or dormitories and single rooms. The latter were for the sick, aged or refractory. Dormitories had from ten to ‘upwards of thirty’ beds in each and occupied the full width of the building, making them light and airy. The attendants were accommodated in the same rooms.

The Laundry, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

The laundry, farm-offices and gas works were situated away from the main building. The whole of the work was intended to be done by the patients. The laundry was fitted up with ‘the most approved mechanical contrivances for washing, drying, and mangling’. [1]

The wash-house, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

Interior of the main kitchen, photographed c.1902. © RCAHMS

The original kitchen was positioned in the central part of the building and communicated with the dining hall ‘by two large windows’, copying the arrangement in English asylums. ‘The patients assemble in the dining-hall and their food having been arranged and placed in vessels for the purpose, is handed through the windows or apertures to the warders, whose duty it is to see that each inmates is duly supplied.’ Dirty plates were passed through another window into the scullery. [1]

The ‘New Main Entrance’ corridor c.1902, © RCAHMS

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.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1903. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Overcrowding had soon become a problem and additions were eventually made in 1881, with Matthews again acting as the architect. Extensions were erected in 1898 to the designs of Ross and Macbeth for male and female hospital wards which were constructed at each end of the building. Ross & Macbeth had earlier added a byre to the site (1891), stables and a gas house (1895). Later they added piggeries and a slaughterhouse (1901); dining-rooms (1902), and a mortuary (1907). In the 1920s and 30s the hospital expanded further.

Interior of the recreation hall, built in 1927. Photographed in 2000 © RCAHMS

In 1927 a large new recreation hall was provided, designed to blend in with the original building but constructed from pre‑cast concrete as well as red sandstone rubble, instead of the dressed stone used on the original buildings. The hall was large enough to take 400 patients and staff, and could be used as a theatre, cinema or dance hall as well as for less formal gatherings. The projecting bay on the photograph below contained a small kitchen.

Recreation Hall, photographed in 2000.© RCAHMS

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 church, Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed in 2000. © RCAHMS

The last major building scheme was the construction of a chapel which was dedicated in 1963. It was designed by W. W. Mitchell of Alexander Ross & Son to accommodate 300 people. It is very simple in style, owing  its origin to plain seventeenth‑ and eighteenth‑century kirks. Indeed, its birdcage bellcote could have come from such a building, though this church was interdenominational.

Former Craig Dunain Hospital photographed in 2016 during redevelopment of the site. © Copyright Jim Barton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Craig Dunain Hospital was earmarked for closure in 1989. This took some years to accomplish, and the hospital only finally closed in 2000. Listed-building consent was applied for soon afterwards to redevelop the site for mixed use, including the demolition of several buildings on the site – including the 1960s chapel. The site was acquired by the developers, Robertson Residential and work began in 2006 to convert the original range into apartments.

 Former Craig Dunain Hospital, during redevelopment in 2010. © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

But in 2007 an arson attack caused serious damage. Development shifted to less badly damaged parts of the old hospital, but many of the buildings had deteriorated and had for some time been on the register of historic Buildings at Risk. By 2013 only one part of the old building had been converted and occupied, although new housing had been built in the grounds, and works ground to a halt on the redevelopment of the historic core. To the north, New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital was built to replace both Craig Dunain and Craig Phadraig Hospital.

References
1. Inverness Courier, 16 June 1864, p.3

Sources:
Records of the former Inverness District Asylum can be seen at the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness
The Builder, 6 Aug. 1859, p.527: Architect & Building News, 8 April 1932, p.56: Highland Health Board Archives, Booklet on hospital.