Glasgow's Lost Hospitals
In 2015 the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital opened in the south-west of Glasgow. The city’s new “super hospital” is home to a wide range of services relocated from hospitals across the city. Four hospitals – the Southern General Hospital, the Western Infirmary, the Victoria Infirmary, and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill – were closed and merged into this new campus. In the space of just a few months these hospitals switched from being busy centres of teaching and clinical care to forming part of the history and heritage of healthcare in Glasgow. In this exhibition, we celebrate the legacy of these recently closed hospitals, and the contributions made to them by our Fellows and Members.
This exhibition also looks back at a few much older hospitals. In the days before the NHS, Fellows of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow were instrumental in the establishment and administration of several hospitals and other health services around the city. The items on display here help to tell the story of these lost hospitals of Glasgow. Fellows such as Robert Cleghorn, a former President of the Faculty and physician to the Town’s Hospital, William Mackenzie, a renowned ophthalmologist and founder of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary, and Sir Alexander Macgregor, Medical Officer of Health, played important roles in the running of hospitals and the provision of healthcare in Glasgow before the foundation of the NHS. The places where they worked are long gone, but we can revisit them through the College collections.
Old Town’s Hospital and Residence of Robert Cleghorn Esq. by Thomas Fairburn, 1849 (Acc. No 2015/105).
The Town’s Hospital and Poorhouse was originally built in 1733 on Clyde Street, at the edge of Glasgow Green. It housed an infirmary, a work house, an asylum, and beds for the elderly and young orphans. The construction and running of the hospital was financed by charitable contributions from various corporations and societies in Glasgow, and the medical care was provided for free by members of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons. A picture of the original building can be seen here.
Town's Hospital Districts
Division of the city into districts. Glasgow : D. Maclure, printer, 1842.
The hospital closed the doors of its Clyde Street building in 1844, and the poorhouse function was removed to the site of the lunatic asylum on Parliamentary Road. At its new location, the City Poorhouse became one of the largest pauper institutions in Britain (and was often criticised for being overcrowded). The Directors decided to split the city into 17 districts, with a district surgeon appointed to each. A map showing these divisions can be seen here.
Royal Hospital for Sick Children
From The Royal Hospital for Sick Children : and its dispensary, Glasgow, 1889
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children was opened at Garnethill in December 1882 with 58 beds. A further 16 were added in 1887 when a house next door was converted into an annexe. By the 1900s the building could no longer cope with Glasgow’s growing population. In 1914, it moved to a new building at Yorkhill, giving the hospital its popular name. Fellows of the College were involved in the RHSC when it opened, for example Hector C. Cameron, William Macewen and William Leishman. The great historian of the College, James Finlayson, held the office of Physician to the hospital from 1883 to 1898 and on retiring was elected Consulting Physician.