Friday 5 October 2012

The City Hospital of Edinburgh

Continuing an occasional series of blogs on LHSA's collections relating to specific hospitals, this week focuses on the City Hospital. This Hospital had its origins in the Public Health (Scotland) Act of 1867, which gave power to local authorities to make provision for outbreaks of infectious diseases. Between 1871 and 1879, the Town Council of Edinburgh provided hospital beds for diseases which would not be permitted in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE). These services were set up in various locations including Canongate Poorhouse, King’s Stables Road and Forrest Road. After the RIE moved to Lauriston Place in 1879, the Town Council purchased the Old Surgeon’s Hall and some buildings from the previous site of the RIE in High School Yards for the provision of a fever hospital, and this complex of buildings became known as the City Hospital. A new hospital designed for this purpose was opened in Colinton Mains, south-west Edinburgh in 1903. On the creation of the NHS in 1948 the City Hospital joined Edinburgh Royal Victoria Hospital Group of the South Eastern Regional Hospital Board. From the 1960s the Hospital started to take in patients with other ailments such as tropical diseases and from the Ear, Nose and Throat department. In 1974 it became part of the South Lothian District of Lothian Health Board. It closed in 1999 as its services were transferred to the new RIE at Little France.

LHSA’s records for the City Hospital (reference: LHB23) include staff and patient records, registers of diseases (including tuberculosis, meningitis, measles and scarlet fever), photographs and some editions of the City Hospital Magazine. The disease registers are an invaluable resource by which researchers can chart outbreaks of infections in the city of Edinburgh at various times. For more information about the material we hold for this Hospital, please see

Before the invention of antibiotics, few treatments were available for sufferers of tuberculosis except rest, fresh air and sunshine. The image, which dates from the early 20th century (reference: Case 118.5), shows a revolving shelter from the City Hospital designed so that patients could get all three of these at once on sunny days.

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