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.
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.
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.
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: Tipperlinn Road, EH10 5HF
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