Apr 032019
 

103 High Street today

Bailie Fyfe’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 1SS

On the 24th November 1861, a seven-story house here in the High Street suddenly collapsed in the middle of the night, burying nearly all of the inhabitants and killing 35 of them. The house was several centuries old, with decaying timbers, and was thought to house up to 100 people. The whole house gave way at once, leaving only the gables still standing. Many years before this catastrophe occurred, in 1848, Dr. Alexander Wood, a leading physician in the city, reported the inadequacy of the city’s provisions for poor relief to the Royal College of Physicians. No action was taken, however, until this tragic occurrence, which was widely reported across the whole of the United Kingdom. Following the disaster, the town council appointed Dr. Henry Littlejohn as the city’s first Medical Officer of Health to write a report on the sanitary conditions of the city. Dr. Littlejohn’s conclusions, along with continuing efforts by Dr. Alexander Wood, eventually resulted in some improvements and in the foundation of The Edinburgh Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor in 1868.

Image taken from page 61 of ‘Precognition of Witnesses examined at the instance of the Procurator-Fiscal for the City of Edinburgh, regarding the falling of the tenement Nos. 99 to 103 High Street, on Nov. 24, 1861’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image taken from page 71 of ‘Precognition of Witnesses examined at the instance of the Procurator-Fiscal for the City of Edinburgh, regarding the falling of the tenement Nos. 99 to 103 High Street, on Nov. 24, 1861’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contemporary illustration showing rescue workers removing ‘the dead and wounded from the fallen house’ on 24 November 1861

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/entertainment/on-this-day-in-1861-edinburgh-tenement-collapse-kills-35-1-4300451

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, British Library Catalogue, Edinburgh Evening News

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Apr 032019
 

Site of hospital today

Meadowside House, 7 Lauriston Lane, Edinburgh EH3 9EN

On 15th February 1860, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children opened its doors at 7 Lauriston Lane with 20 beds and a dispensary. Three years later, in 1863, it was given royal patronage by Queen Victoria and moved to Meadowside House which increased its capacity to 40 beds. The opening of the hospital meant that Edinburgh at last fell in line with other cities worldwide who had opened hospitals dedicated to children.  Given Scotland’s alarmingly high child mortality rates – in the late 1850s, almost half of Scottish children died before their sixth birthday – such as hospital was sorely needed. One of the original team of four doctors at the hospital was Dr Henry Littlejohn. Like Professor Alison, Dr Littlejohn would go on to become an important figure in public health in Edinburgh. He was appointed Edinburgh’s first Medical Officer of Health, the first role of its kind in Scotland, and the conclusions of his ‘Report on The Sanitary Conditions of the City of Edinburgh’ that he published in 1865 were key to providing the motivation for the founding of the Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor.

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 1890

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, Our Town Stories Collection

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