Aug 102020

45 Lauriston Place/2a Chalmers Street, EH3 9HQ

Chalmers Hospital in the 1960s.

In 1836, George Chalmers, a plumber and burgess of Edinburgh, passed away, leaving the residue of his estate “for the express purpose of founding a New Infirmary or Sick and Hurt Hospital, or by whatever name it may be Designed.” Unfortunately, Chalmers did not leave enough funds to build a hospital, so the total value of his estate was invested in government stock. By 1860 the stocks had increased in value enough to pay for the conversion of Lauriston House into a hospital. Architect J. Dick Peddle designed the hospital to have four separate wards with 48 beds. The first two of these wards opened in February 1864 for free patient care, and in 1872 the second two wards were opened for paying patients. In 1939 the hospital was requisitioned by the government for the care of civilian casualties during WWII. Chalmers Hospital became part of the NHS in 1948 and with it turned its two private patient wards into wards for free hospital care. In 2009 the hospital was redesigned, incorporating the original building with a glass annexe to accommodate a sexual health centre.

Designs for the extension to the Chalmers Hospital.
Aug 102020

High School Yards, Edinburgh EH1 1LZ

surgeon's square
High School Yards with Old Surgeon’s Hall.

The four buildings inside High School Yards have a long history of medicine and surgery within Edinburgh. Old Surgeons’ Hall (OSH), built in 1697 by Scottish architect James Smith, was designed as an anatomy theatre and the first public dissection occurred in 1703. By 1832, the surgeons moved to New Surgeons’ Hall on Nicolson Street and OSH and the New High School building (where the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation is currently located) were converted to surgical hospitals. The current School of Geoscience was built in 1853 as a surgical hospital. Known as Drummond Street Surgical Hospital, it was built as part of the Royal Infirmary. When the Royal Infirmary moved to Lauriston Place in 1879, the already established surgical hospitals and Chisholm House were converted into medical facilities for contagious patients. Under the control of Sir Henry Littlejohn, Edinburgh’s Medical Officer, this group of buildings became known as the City Fever Hospital. In 1903 the City Fever Hospital moved to a new location on Coliston Mains and the buildings at HSY were sold to the University of Edinburgh.

Postcard of a painting by J Sanderson of the old Royal Infirmary Edinburgh building at Infirmary Street.
An etching (published in 1829) of Old Surgeon’s Hall and adjacent buildings.
Perspective View of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Infirmary Street.

Aug 102020

99 Kirkgate, Leith, EH6 6BJ

South Leith Parish Church

The Maritime Museum (formerly the South Leith Parish Church and Trinity House), is the site of Leith’s first hospital, St. Anthony’s, founded in 1430 by Sir Robert Logan. The hospital consisted of two parts: hospital and the chapel, and the hospital would have stretched all the way to Henderson Street. In 1560, the Siege of Leith led to the hospital falling into ruin. After the Scottish Reformation, a new hospital, King James’, was erected on the same site in 1614, where it remained until 1822. A memorial stone commemorating the original hospital can be found in the kirkyard, with a small stretch of the original wall from 1614. In 2009 an archaeological excavation of Constitution Street just outside of the church discovered 260 graves, dating from the time of the original hospital on this location. 

Find out more
The collection records for the original seal of St Anthony’s Hospital.
Details of the excavation in 2009.

Aug 102020

64 Canongate, EH8 8BS

Queensberry House (2010, CC-SA by Kim Traynor)

Queensberry House is currently part of the Scottish Parliament buildings and contains the office for the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. From 1803 until 1996, however, the house was used as a hospital. In 1801, Queensberry House, previously a private residence, was repossessed by the government and used as an emergency hospital. The house then acted as an army base from 1808-1815, with a third storey was added to the house to accommodate army barracks and the pavilions converted into marching areas. The house returned to its use as emergency public hospital between 1815-1833, caring for homeless patients. In 1833, Queensberry House officially became a House of Refuge for the homeless population of Edinburgh. It remained one until the foundation of the NHS in 1948, at which point it became a specialised care facility for the elderly as Queensberry House Hospital. The hospital closed in 1996 and the site was purchased by the Scottish Parliament in 1997 where it became integrated with the Holyrood building.

Aug 102020

20 W Richmond St, Edinburgh EH8 9DX

Andrew Duncan

The current MacKenzie Medical Centre was once the site of the Royal Public Dispensary of Edinburgh, Scotland’s first public dispensary. In the early 1770s, Andrew Duncan taught at the University of Edinburgh, using chronically ill patients unable to pay for treatment. As the number of patients at these sessions kept increasing, Duncan proposed a public dispensary that would provide free healthcare in large numbers to the poor. When the dispensary opened in 1783, teaching was a key element of its practice and, as practical experience became a requirement in medical education, from 1890 onwards it was compulsory. In 1963, the dispensary building was donated to the University of Edinburgh. It is now a GP training practice, where students still have the opportunity for hands-on experience.

Mackenzie Medical Centre in 2017 (CC-SA by David Hawgood)
Aug 102020

9 Sciennes Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1LF

Royal Hospital for Sick Kids (2017, CC-SA by Kim Traynor)

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHSC), also known as ‘Sick Kids’ was established at this location on Sciennes Road in 1895. At that time, the life expectancy for children under 5 was particularly low. In response, Dr. John Smith campaigned for a designated children’s hospital to be run by volunteers and used to train new doctors. In 1863, the hospital was opened in Meadowside House and was the first in Scotland dedicated to the care of only children. Despite having a purpose-built fever room, an outbreak of typhoid in 1890 required the hospital’s patients and staff to be moved to a temporary location. After further inspection Meadowside House was deemed unsuited to house patients again and was closed. The current location, previously a maternity hospital designed by Scottish architect George Washington Browne, was then acquired. Dr Joseph Bell, who was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, was the first appointed surgeon at the hospital in 1887 and remained there until his retirement.

Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children in 1960.
Photo of the MacKay Smith Ward from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children, c.1935.
Aug 102020

Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EH9 1SH

Longmore House is now the head office of Historic Environment Scotland.

Longmore Hospital (now Longmore House) was the first hospital for “incurables” in Edinburgh. Opened in 1875, the hospital took on patients requiring long-term care that the Royal Infirmary was not equipped to provide. In 1891, a new east wing opened with two 14 bed wards, nurses’ quarters and kitchens and a two-storey west wing was added with a basement in 1899. The top two floors housed a new kitchen, laundry room, chapel and mortuary while the basement was reserved for tuberculosis patients. In 1903, the hospital received a royal charter from King Edward VIII and officially became the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Incurables. It joined forces with Liberton Hospital on Lasswade Road in 1906, to allow for even greater capacity. Longmore remained a hospital until 1991, when its services were moved to the General Western Hospital. In 1994 the building was converted into office space for Historic Environment Scotland. Liberton Hospital is still in operation as a hospital for geriatric care.

Longmore Hospital image from a pamphlet.
Aug 102020

92 Whitehouse Loan, EH9 1BD

Portrait of Dr Sophia Jex-Blake.

This is the site of the Bruntsfield Hospital. Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first women to be enrolled at a British university and the founder of the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women, lived and practised here in Bruntsfield Lodge with her partner Dr Margaret Todd. When Jex-Blake retired in 1899, the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children established Bruntsfield Hospital on the site. The hospital was closely linked to Elsie Inglis’ hospital “The Hospice” and, when the two merged in 1910, The Hospice was dedicated to obstetric and infant care and Bruntsfield hospital was responsible for all medical, surgical, and gynaecological work. The hospital closed 90 years after its initial move to Bruntsfield Lodge in 1989 and has since been converted into residential units.

The exterior of Bruntsfield Hospital.
Aug 102020

Royal Edinburgh Hospital: Tipperlinn Road, EH10 5HF

The redeveloped entrance to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital is a psychiatric hospital. The hospital was founded by Dr Andrew Duncan, who was moved by the death of a patient, 24-year-old poet Robert Fergusson, to open a hospital that cared for the mentally ill with greater dignity. Originally called the Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, the hospital opened its doors in 1813. The first superintendent of the hospital was Dr William Mackinnon. He encouraged patients to use their trades and skills, such as animal care, carpentry, and tailoring. The hospital’s patients even started producing a magazine called The Morningside Mirror. In 1889, New Craig House was built by the designs of Dr Thomas Coulston. He believed that for successful treatment it was important that patients’ surroundings be bright and pleasant. The new building was meant to replicate the feeling of staying in a luxury country house, rather than an institution. The facility was built to accommodate the hospital’s wealthiest patients, the layout of New Craig House, therefore, includes quarters for personal staff. Craighouse quickly became the largest mental health facility in Scotland and remains unrivalled in Scottish hospital architecture to this day. In 1972, Old Craig House was renamed the Thomas Coulston clinic. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital is being redeveloped from

Photo showing the back of Craig House from the grounds.
Memorial to notable figures in the development of mental health care in the grounds of the Edinburgh Royal Hospital. The bust is of the French doctor, Philippe Pinel (1745-1826), whose humane approach to patient care was a major influence on the Hospital’s founders. The medallion at the top right portrays Dr Andrew Duncan who was the driving force behind its creation following the disgust he felt at the death of his patient, the poet Robert Fergusson, in the horrible conditions of the old Edinburgh bedlam. Although Duncan’s original building from 1807 no longer exists, the hospital contains an Andrew Duncan Clinic named in his honour.
(2010, CC-SA by Kim Traynor)
Aug 102020

13 Bank Street, EH1 2LN

Sir Robert William Philip (1922)

On this location, in 1887, Sir Robert William Philip opened The Royal Victoria Dispensary for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest. This was the first dispensary in the world which specialised in tuberculosis (TB). Sir Robert Philip qualified as a doctor in 1882, the same year that Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis virus. He dedicated his practice to researching treatment options for TB. In 1891 the dispensary moved to 26 Lauriston Place, and eventually to Spittal Street in 1912, where it remained until its closure. The Royal Victoria Hospital for Consumption opened in 1894 in Craigleith House and acted as a sanitorium where patients with early symptoms could rest and get fresh air. These locations, together with the City Fever Hospital, established what would come to be known as the “Edinburgh Scheme for Tuberculosis.” The scheme consisted of patients visiting the dispensary for diagnosis and assessment. If TB was established the patient’s home and relatives would be visited and assessed. Parts of the ‘Edinburgh Scheme’ are still used in the assessment of TB patients today.

Patient in bed at home under the care of Dispensary nurse, c.1908-1914.
Corner of Bank and N(orth) Bank Street.