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The hospital grounds cover quite a large area. It is interesting to consider what was here before that how the site was developed into what it is today. 

A look at PastMap reveals that Broomley House stood where there is now a carpark on that small hill almost centrally. Canmore /HES give little information about it, but we can see from the WDC website that it was the house of Henry Brock, one of the directors of the United Turkey Red Company (UTR) at Alexandria. 

He bequeathed £15,000 for the establishment of a cottage hospital in the Vale of Leven. The Henry Brock Vale of Leven Cottage Hospital (sometimes referred to as The Henry Brock Memorial Hospital) was opened in 1924 in Broomley House, the former home of its benefactor. [WDC].

What we now casually call the NHS, the National Health Service was established in July 1948. Britain was the first western country to offer free at the point of use medical care to the whole population. Many decades later it continues to be a distinguishing feature of the British welfare state. 

West Dunbartonshire is proud of its strong ties with author A J  Cronin who is widely credited with motivating the foundation in Britain for the introduction of the NHS. The Citadel is a novel by A. J. Cronin, first published in 1937, which was groundbreaking in its treatment of the contentious subject of medical ethics. See index.asp?pageid=716392

The war also marked a ground shift in attitude to social responsibility. The Second World War led to an immense loss of life and induced considerable hardships. Britons endured rationing (which continued after the war was over), evacuation, destruction or damage to millions of homes and workplaces, air raids as well as the mass pivoting of the nation’s people and resources to meet the vast war effort. The period between the First and Second World Wars had also left its mark. The interwar years were a time of economic depression and social deprivation, there had been no great development of state provision. Attlee and his Cabinet had lived through (and in many cases fought in) both wars and recognised the need for reconstruction and expansion – a comprehensive welfare system was at the heart of this.[Gov.uk].

With the establishment of the National Health Service and consequent growth in health care provision, a new, larger hospital was required. This was opened in August, 1955 on endowment land of the Cottage Hospital, and was called The Vale of Leven District General Hospital. 

In 1956 the Henry Brock Hospital became the geriatric long-stay unit and assessment centre for the chronic sick until a new geriatric unit was built to the south of the main building in 1977. The old house was demolished in 1978 to make way for a car park - that which is at the top of the rise to the immediate south-east of the main building.

Over the years there have been many other changes. Some decry the reduction of services here such as that of A&E, but in a modern world, communications and travel, the whole region is seen in a different perspective. Anyone with a medical need may well find themselves at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow or others depending on their needs. Visitors may find that irksome, but the relative centrality of specialist services has its great benefits. 

It no longer has an A&E department, but it can deal with minor injuries.

And there is an ambulance depot near the entrance. 

The overall site is itself historically interesting. 

Broomley House : As noted above, this was the core feature of what was to develop later and was owned by Henry Brock who as one of the directors of the United Turkey Red Company (UTR) became a very significant benefactor. "Turkey Red" was but one of the dye processes used in the textile industry here, but it is a name that stuck. You can find out more about it here : index.asp?pageid=715772

Tullichewan Castle and Estate : Tullichewan Castle was a little to the north of here, but dominated the area and gave its name to the residential area. index.asp?pageid=716382 Although the castle is long gone, there are still some signs of it.

Vale Centre for Healthcare : This is an ultrmodern facility containing doctors practices and clinics. During its construction over 2011 / 2012 a programme of archaeological fieldwork was carried out In the evaluation, a total of seven pits were discovered in two trenches, comprising a loose concentration but without any definite form or pattern. Four of the pits were investigated and were shown to have steep sides and substantial depth, raising the possibiltiy that they may be post-holes. The likelihood of further pits and features nearby was considered to be high. An area excavation was carried out in October and November 2011. A total of ninety features were recorded, comprising of pits, post-holes and a circular ring-groove. The pits were largely small and sterile but three significant features were excavated, each containing large quantities of Grooved Ware. Five egg-shaped pits contained burnt mound material. The post-holes formed no recognisable patterns. [Canmore]. While it does not provide conclusions about this it does show that the site was inhabited way before the Vale was ever formally developed. 

WWII : This hospital had nto yet been built, but the estate nevertheless played a crucial role during this period. Body Lines Camp was established here. There are few records, but the Vale of Leven project has pieced together how it was. Actually the camp underwent 4 stages and the name was to change. The following is all from that website: 

1 - Spring 1942 – June 1943. The Americans were in residence. The camp was built by the American civilians and their Irish colleagues who had started to lay the Finnart – Old Kilpatrick pipeline, in the spring of 1942. They were certainly its first occupants, being in residence from when the pipeline work started in May 1942 until it was completed in July 1943. At some stage, probably December 1943, they were joined by members of the 29th US Construction Battalion (the Sea Bees) who by April 1943 had taken on responsibility for the completion of the pipe-line (and the Finnart oil terminal) and stayed until the work finished about the end of June 1943.

2 - July 1943 – late 1944. The camp was a training base for the WRENs, many of whom went on to work on the most secret project of the war – the breaking of the German Enigma codes and the reading of Germany’s most closely guarded messages, based at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. We do not have a firm date for when the WRENs left Tullichewan, but it seems to have been before the end of 1944.

Up to this point Tullichewan Camp was called HMS Spartiate II by the Royal Navy whose property it was. The Secret Scotland website says that it was called Spartiate II from when it opened in 1942 until 1944.

3 - 10th March 1945 until 10th June 1945. It was renamed HMS Tullichewan and used as a holding base for Combined Operations. It was officially paid off in June 1945.

4 - 18th August 1946 – 1953. One Sunday in August 1946 local families, who could not find houses anywhere else, moved into the accommodation huts in the Camp, very much against the wishes of the authorities. In fact the camp was still guarded by the Navy at the time. They stayed until they were rehoused in the new council houses, which were built elsewhere in the Vale of Leven. The last of them had been rehoused by 1953 and the camp was demolished.

Post World War II : Keeping in mind the creation of the NHS so soon after the cessation of hostilities of WWII and the slow awareness of what was to become known as the Cold War, it is perhaps inevitable that defence would be a consideration in the design and layout of the Vale of Leven Hospital. Built between 1951 and 1955, the Vale was created in the face of post-war financial constraints because it formed a part of the Civil Defence Programme – initiated in response to the Cold War. [

In the early 1950s Glasgow was considered likely to be a prime target in the event of war breaking out, with plans made for the potential evacuation of all hospitals in Glasgow and the surrounding area.

It was envisaged that existing hospitals could serve as ‘cushion hospitals’, but there was nothing available for the area to the north-west of Glasgow.[Daily Record]

The Cold War : If you consider that this complex was built in times of post war austerity, it is difficult to imagine the reasoning of the scale. We now have hospitals that are even larger, but at the time this was considered enormous. To understand that we need to keep in mind the broader considerations of forward planning, of community civil defence and the growing nervousness of a repeat of the war from the new Cold War threats. This was designed for the possible enormous numbers of victims of conflict including that of a nuclear strike - not only as patients, but as killed - the mortuary is larger that normally provided at the time. And there is even provision of a degree of self reliance should it be cut off - the kitchen is larger and there is guidance on how to prepare a meal from rabbit. 

CANMORE : https://canmore.org.uk/site/330110/alexandria-vale-of-leven-hospital and https://canmore.org.uk/site/270155/broomley-house

DAILY RECORD : Frazer Clarke 2 July 2023  NHS at 75: Recognising the Vale of Leven Hospital's vital role in the community: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/nhs-75-recognising-vale-leven-30447347 

GLASGOW TIMES : 26 jUNE 2008 : Quoting BBC:  Scots nuclear strike plan revealed : https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/12850287.scots-nuclear-strike-plan-revealed/

GOV.UK - History of Government blog : https://history.blog.gov.uk/2023/07/13/the-founding-of-the-nhs-75-years-on/

VALE OF LEVEN PROJECT : https://www.valeofleven.org.uk/tullichewan.html

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COUNCIL : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/leisure-parks-events/museums-and-galleries/collections/buildings/hospitals-and-the-poor-house/vale-of-leven-hospital/

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