By July 1909, the brand new Blantyre Cottage Hospital on Bardykes Road was nearing completion. Construction of only the internal fitout remained and with the exterior complete, it was drawing comments from passers by.
There was never any question or criticism about the purpose of the hospital which aimed to provide fast, efficient and local hospital care for anybody who needed it, but still the hospital became a talking point for its appearance. Indeed, it was widely reported in local newspapers often between July and October that year that there had never been so much adverse criticism about the way a new Blantyre building looked until that time!
The problem was threefold. The designs put forward by Architects were all very majestic and grand and the public felt that the most simplistic one had been chosen. Secondly, it was queried, why when so much land had been made available did the chosen design cram the hospital into its width of the plot, rather than length. Finally, when a reporter in June commented that it looked like three or four “coalhouses” joined together, akin to pit buildings, that perception stuck in the public mind for a time.
When writing up the story, a reporter of the time overhead three men standing on Bardykes Road stating that they had never seen a building comprising of so many “Wee coalhouse roofs joined together”, with the others agreeing!
However, this is a short lived tale. Even by the end of 1909, this was old news in Blantyre and public opinion was finally put to bed when it was quickly realised how worthy the hospital was in the care it very quickly provided to Blantyre residents, especially miners in all too common accidents. The hospital quickly became an important community asset. Any talk of how it looked vanished in the village and was never perpetuated. Personally, I’ve always thought this was a beautiful building, even more so in more modern times where it is now a very desirable home.
The cottage hospital is pictured in that early year shortly after opening.