Mrs France’s recollection

One of the special places Mrs Agnes France of High Blantyre wanted to see when she came home from Toronto Canada in 1967, wasn’t just Blantyre, but was Hairmyres in East Kilbride.

Agnes was back in Scotland for the first time since 1929 and was amazed how much Blantyre had changed in half a century. However, her thoughts quickly turned to Hairmyres where she had been a housemaid all those years ago as a young woman.

A visit was arranged by a niece and for over an hour, Agnes was able to give details to hospital staff which had previously not been recorded in the history of Hairmyres.

Mrs France compared notes with her sister Elizabeth Houston of Meadow Avenue and together notes were typed up as their memoirs.

In 1929, Hairmyres Hospital was known as Hairmyres Colony. Staffed by a Dr MacPherson and Miss Gray (matron), a doctor, just three nurses, a gardener and a laundry maid.

There were 36 children all suffering from tuberculosis but with the expectation of getting better. During WW2, 300 Prisoner of War came to the site and built roads and sewers for the building of a new wing. It was to be used for soldiers. Mrs France recalled a much earlier time when Hairmyres was solely used for inebriated women.

Mrs France during her 1967 visit found her old bedroom, now part of the male residency and noted that the doctors old house had been converted into flats for the current nurses. She delighted in telling staff at even at the age of 70, back home in Toronto, she taught 3 -5 year old children.

Hairmyres has obviously changed hugely since 1967 with of course many of the old buildings demolished to make way for the modern, new hospital which currently exists.

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