- now demolished
I was 19, I had a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and
was taken to either the Eastern General or the Western General,
more likely the latter.
The hospital had a separate TB
sanatorium ward intended for children but by 1956 there were no
children with TB, thanks to streptomycin, so the ward was used for
chest cases. Several patients were there for pleurisy and
pneumonia - and one man was a paraplegic ex-miner who was there
to give his family respite.
One patient in this ward was a small
man who had pneumonia. Every time a nurse went to give him an
injection, he would say “I’ll gie ye a pund if you go away”.
But he got the injections, and
they were very painful.
An auxiliary nurse was instructed to
give him a bed bath so the usual offer of a pound was made, but
she just grabbed his pyjama jacket and hauled it off. Dozens of
pills cascaded on to the floor and scattered all over the place.
He had been hiding his pills under his tongue then popping them
into his pyjama jacket pocket.
Then all hell broke loose, the matron
and senior consultant came tearing in and gave him a severe tongue
lashing. He died three days later. He
had 3 or 4 sons. They all gathered round the bedside in tears as
he breathed his last. It was a very moving scene."
"I was in a
General Ward at the Western General Hospital*. It had a sun
terrace and floor-to-ceiling
window/doors which could fully fold open. I was just having
breathing exercises and regular x-rays so I
was able to walk around after a week.
was a paraplegic in a separate room,
so I went in to see him. I noticed that he needed a shave,
so I got white coat and shaved him every day with a cut-throat
Many years later, I was at my cousin’s
wedding in Bonnyrigg when a lady came up to me and said “Oh
Doctor, I want to thank you for looking after my father when he
was in hospital."
I looked round to see who she was talking to then realized it was me.
The white coat fools everyone. It turns out that I was
related to that family anyway through my father’s side and that
they lived in Gogarburn."
Sevenoaks, Kent, England: October 4, 2009
* James tells me that these incidents could have been at the Eastern
but he believes they were more likely to have been at the Western
After writing about the death of his great great grandmother,
Elizabeth Buchanan, at
Craiglockhart Poorhouse in 1909, Bryan Gourlay added:
St Cuthbert's Poorhouse
Western General Hospital
"Sadly, Elizabeth Buchanan’s father
Andrew and her mother Janet also died in an Edinburgh poorhouse in
the 1880s – St Cuthberts Poorhouse which was the forerunner of the
Western General, built to replace an earlier poorhouse that stood
where the Caledonian Hotel is today.
You might recognise St Cuthberts as the old building, still part
of the Western General complex about half way up the south
entrance road on the right.
Here is some more information I found about St Cuthberts:
1881 census, there were 668
inmates in the St Cuthberts Poorhouse, housed in sections where
the inmates were classified as:
Move to Craigleith
"The previous St Cuthberts Poorhouse had
been in the centre of Edinburgh at the west end of Princes Street.
The new buildings were formally
opened on 21st December 1868
During the previous month, 410 inmates had been transferred from
the old poorhouse, with the able-bodied walking, and the remainder
being carried in cabs and vans.
However, the ‘powers-that-be’ decided to tuck its replacement far
away in Craigleith, in what was the north-western outskirts of the
city at that time.
Except for the period 1914-19 when it was a
military hospital, St Cuthberts remained a poorhouse from 1868
until 1929, when it became Edinburgh’s Western General
Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland: January 11, 2009