Cromarty's Cottage Hospital
by Casagrandeblog - 10:56 on 15 September 2013
One subject we haven’t talked about in our ‘Memories’ sessions is Health. There must be so many stories about past Cromarty GPs and about the building on the right - the old Cottage Hospital, now the private home Gisbourne.
This was built in 1894 on land donated free by General Ross. It was a serious measles epidemic which triggered demands for a local hospital, but not everyone supported the idea. Some letter-writers to the 'Cromarty News' thought it was a waste of money, and one person suggested converting the Gaelic Chapel to a hospital instead.
It cost £1,010 to build and all of that money was raised through voluntary subscriptions and local fundraising. There was even a ball held in London, organised by Cromarty exiles, to raise funds. The fundraising continued in support of the hospital right up to the creation of the NHS in 1948, via the usual fetes, dances, silver paper collections, and so on.
There was a resident District Nurse and the local GP was the Medical Officer. Clem Watson has a copy of the hospital’s Annual Report for 1937/38 - see left - which gives a flavour of its activities. Twenty-three cases were treated in the wards of the Hospital during the year, which doesn’t seem an awful lot. Nine of these were Maternity cases. The Nurse was kept busy however. She paid 2451 District visits, and 2035 visits were paid by patients to the Dispensary. Income for the year was 280 pounds, ten shillings and fivepence. This included a donation of £7 and 11 shillings being the proceeds of a Whist Drive and Dance organised by the crew of SS Osterhav, and another of £25 from a concert by the Harmonica Band of HMS Rodney.
The hospital in pre-NHS days was run as a charitable trust, with the Trustees being the usual suspects (the minister, the provost, the sheriff of the county and, of course, the laird), but the day-to-day running was in the hands of a management board. In 1937 this included Eric Malcolm’s father (the local headmaster), Dr Middleton of Davidston, Miss A Murray of St. Ann’s (sister of the legendary Sutherland Murray), Mr W Scott of Rosenberg and several others. In fact, if you lived in one of the ‘big houses’ in Cromarty you were pretty well bound to be on the Cottage Hospital Board of Management.
The hospital continued in use under the NHS, mainly as a maternity hospital, but finally closed its doors in 1954.
Incidentally the house next door to the hospital, the ‘White House’, was built between the wars for the local GP and Medical Officer, Dr Gibson. It was really modern. It had a garage door operated by a photo-electric cell that opened automatically when his car entered the driveway. I must ask David Ross if it still works.
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