Designing the Cottage Hospital

Loved researching this! During the first decade of the 1900’s the growing frequency of mining accidents and requirement for local care promoted the need for a local Cottage Hospital in Blantyre. In February 1906, a public meeting was held in Blantyre to elect a committee and to discuss raising funds to create a new Cottage Hospital for the town. Mr. Andrew Miller Bannatyne of Milheugh was elected as chairperson and Mr. George Campbell, manager of the Clydesdale Bank was appointed honorary secretary and treasurer of the new group. It was agreed that a fund should be set up, to be added with fundraising from whatever means possible.

By 1908, with land secured at Bardykes, architects were then invited to produce a design with quotations on costings. It was decided by the committee to hold a competition for the design and it is known to have attracted 2 entries.

Architects David Bateman Hutton and Thomas Lumsden Taylor of “Architectural Practice Hutton and Taylor” (formed in Glasgow 1906) put their names forward in 1908.

The competitors for the design were William Forrest Salmon, his business partner John Gaff Gillespie and William’s son James Salmon, all of the architectural firm, “Salmon, Son & Gillespie”. Salmon’s Practice called themselves “Phagocyte” and under that name submitted their design under that alias. (Phagocytes are associated with white blood cells and perhaps they hoped that the medical board would see their extra effort!)

The design Salmon’s team came up with is as shown. Almost fairytale like, this hospital design was proposed for Bardykes. It is little wonder Salmons design had this almost Bavarian romantic design, for the architects had travelled extensively a couple of years before through Romania, Hungary, and Switzerland. They proposed Staff should live in a tower at one end, and the hospital connected by a veranda. The design had a pitched roof, with red tiles and a mixture exposed stonework and roughcast.

With the architects permitted to have all of 1908 to submit and cost their designs, plans were handed into the committee at the start of March 1909. At the same meeting of the committee, W B Dow was appointed Quantity Surveyor/ measurer. The committee took just that one meeting to decide upon the winner.

However, Salmon’s design proved too expensive to implement and “Hutton and Taylors”  more practical, yet equally unique and beautiful design was chosen, that is the design we see today. The chosen hospital hospital was of a ‘solid pavilion type’ with male and female wards, an operating theatre and administrative accommodation.

1930s-cottage-hospitalAfter £4,162 was collected, the hospital was built at Bardykes Road, overlooking the Calder Braes. Construction started on 6th March 1909 with the exterior well progressed by August that year. There were some people in Blantyre who did not like the design and reports in newspapers became quite vocal of this comparing it to a collection of little “coalhouses”. However, such sentiment vanished quickly when the primary purpose of the building was realised, in providing much needed care to locals. Initial budgets of £3,000 rose during the build and ended up close to £4,000. The Blantyre Cottage Hospital officially opened on 25th June 1910. It was the first local Cottage hospital to be constructed in Lanarkshire.

(Sidenote: On the back of their success Hutton and Taylor achieved success designing several Glasgow Schools and churches. The disappointment for Salmon’s practice would have been apparent for it was the third in as many years of unsuccessful competition designs. They had earlier been runner up for the Mitchell Library, Rutherglen Town Hall, Hamilton Academy and Hamilton Municipal  Library. However, in the month following the hospital award, Salmons practice were engaged successfully to design Stirlings Municipal Buildings.)

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Alison Glen Being an architect, I love that we live in this great piece of Blantyre history and that it’s been in my husband’s family since the 1940s!

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