Friday, 19 July 2013

Bangour Hospitals

During the late 19th century, the problem of mental illness became more acute in Edinburgh and as the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) became very overcrowded, so a new psychiatric hospital was proposed in woodland on the Bangour estate, near Uphall and Bathgate, some 14 miles from Edinburgh. The first patients were transferred from the REH in 1904 and Bangour Village Hospital officially opened in 1906; at this time most of the buildings were only of temporary construction. An array of various residential buildings, a shop and church were constructed on the site over a number of years.

The distinctive Bangour Village Hospital site, 1970s
From 1915-1922 and 1939-1945, the Hospital was taken over by the War Office for use by military patients. During this period, it is common in the records to see asylum patients being moved in groups from the Hospital to other asylums, and then returned after the wars. During the Second World War, an annexe of huts was built to house more military patients, which remained open to civilians after 1945, as Bangour General Hospital. Norman Dott carried out some of his pioneering neurosurgery work from here and his case note records are now being catalogued at LHSA, as reported in previous blogs. Other areas of specialist treatment developed at the General Hospital included tuberculosis, plastic and facio-maxillary surgery and thoracic surgery.

Bangour General Hospital, 1970s
In 1948 under the organisation of the NHS, the Bangour hospitals came under the West Lothian Hospitals Board of Management and from the 1950s, the Village Hospital took in patients from the West Lothian area as well as from Edinburgh.

In 1989, St John’s Hospital opened in Livingston and services began to be transferred there from Bangour General Hospital, with the latter closing in the early 1990s. The practice of institutionalising psychiatric patients declined rapidly in the late 20th century and Bangour Village Hospital finally closed in 2000. The site is still yet to be redeveloped and many of the buildings remain, albeit in a dilapidated condition. LHSA contains many records and photographs of staff and patients at the hospitals, catalogued under LHB40 and LHB44, preserving their memory.


  1. I was a patient in Bangour Hospital in 1956. I was 11 years old at the time. I have few memories of my time there. Iam now almost 72 now married with a family.

    1. i was a patient there in 1974 i just come over this because i was thinking of my past. hope ypu are happy now

  2. I would be really interested to hear what it was like for you there. My grandfather was bipolar, and was there for the last few years of his life- at least ten. He died when I was three, and I have vague memories of him as he used to come to our house in Edinburgh every Saturday.

  3. I was born in bangour general hospital in 1969 ànd worked there in the late 80's lived in the nurses home for a short while until I got a room in the village nurse's home!

  4. Thank you for all your comments and interest in the history of the two hospitals... We'll remember it for future posts!

  5. I am looking at places that I have lived etc for my degree course. I was born in Bangour hospital in 1974. Can anyone tell me if the maternity wing is still standing? I think I read somewhere that it was demolished. Anyone know which building it was if this isn't the case? Many thanks

  6. I was there in the late 80's,don't know about other mental health stuff, I was in for plastic surgery which was a field they specialised in. All interlinked old Nissan huts from the war. They saved many a fighter pilots life in WW2 with the plastic surgery I believe and became leaders in the field.I heard that it was demolished in the 90's.

  7. We have some of the case notes from that maxillo-facial surgery unit.. A lot of people talk about the Guinea Pig Club in the Second World War, but there was amazing work done in plastic surgery at Bangour too! Louise (LHSA Archivist)

  8. My gran, Agnes Blackie, was a patient there for a year, sometime during WW2. She came from a farm in Berwickshire and had contracted spinal TB. The treatment was being encased in a plaster shell for a year and being pushed out onto the veranda. Previously, her brother John had died at a very young age with pulmonary TB and a sister had TB of the kidney necessitating its removal.
    My gran, Agnes Blackie, partially recovered with this treatment, or at least the TB became quiescent.
    However, 25 to 30 years later, when she was about 60, it became active again. So she was treated at Peel Hospital in the borders by having bone removed from the spine and a graft put in taken from bone chippings of the iliac crest. She was then put in a plaster shell for 6 months and IM Streptomycin given. Think that was about 1969. She lived a full, hardworking life and died aged 93 in 2002.

  9. Sorry, should have put my email address,

  10. My oldest son was the second last child born at this hospital 31st October 1989,at 3 days old him and all the other children were moved to St John's Livingston