The Childrens Home Hospital Strathblane

The aim of the Childrens Home hospital was to provide treatment in the country for children suffering from tuberculosis disease of bones and joints and only children from Glasgow were to benefit.
Childrens Home Strathblane
The Childrens Home 1930's - it moved to this site on the 6th May 1913. The Hospital was closed in September 1994.

The need

The rapid industrial expansion in Glasgow had brought with it poor living conditions as tenements were thrown up to house the many people who flocked to Glasgow to find work. One consequence of this was poor health and frequently children were the victims of diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis and rickets. As the hospitals struggled to cope with all these cases and convalescent homes could not cope with this type of nursing, it began to be realised that there was a need for a specialist unit for such children in Glasgow. Side by side with the industrial development in Glasgow were the development of welfare services and an awareness of social need. The Settlement Movement linked to the University became active in such work. Miss Penelope Ker and her friend Miss Marion Rutherford, first warden of the Queen Margaret Settlement in Anderston, started the pioneer work for invalid children in Glasgow by forming a committee of ladies who visited the homes of invalid children once or twice a week to teach those who were unable to attend school. As a result, the first Invalid School in Glasgow was opened by the Settlement. From discussions with surgeons and doctors these two ladies discovered many children suffering from or with tendencies towards weaknesses which required prolonged rest and treatment in good air to hasten a cure. Miss Ker - whose family lived at Napier's Lodge Edenkill - devoted herself to the welfare of these children, visiting them, their homes and their parents. She provided after-care and continued to correspond with many of the children in later life. Although profoundly deaf, Miss Ker did not allow this to deter her from her work. With the help of Sir Hector Cameron and others who were interested a home at Aberfoyle was established. Treatment was begun at Yorkhill Hospital but would only be effective if children could convalesce in the fresh country air. There was to be no time limit on the children’s stay provided there was an expectation of improvement. A cottage was lent rent-free and at first there were 7 children and 1 nurse. Soon a second cottage was taken over and the nursing staff increased with room enough to house 20 children. Patients were sent from the Glasgow Infirmaries, Sick Childrens Hospital and from the Invalid Schools. Children could enjoy fresh air, careful nursing, good food, and a long stay if necessary in contrast to the unhealthy cramped conditions they had to endure in their own homes in Glasgow. The results of the treatment during the first six years were very encouraging. Children received the constant skills of the honorary surgeon who visited weekly, performed minor operations and generally monitored the progress of the children, whose ages ranged from a few months to 12 years. By 1910, 214 patients had been admitted and 50% were practically cured.

The move to Strathblane

However, all was not well. There was an issue over the lease of the property. Should a new Home be built or the present premises re-rented? In addition the people in Aberfoyle raised a petition suggesting that the Home was a source of public danger. The lease was not renewed and after some discussion it was agreed that the Childrens Home would re-locate to Strathblane where there were suitable premises. The final move took place on the 6th May 1913 and the Hospital was officially opened on the 20th June 1913 by the Marchioness of Tullibardine. The name was to be The Childrens Home Hospital Strathblane (late Aberfoyle) - The aim of the Hospital was to make useful citizens of those whose lives would otherwise be a source of misery and weariness to themselves and their guardians.
In March 1914 this public plea was made
That the Childrens Home Hospital, Strathblane be specially recommended to the generosity of the public as an institution which has now, for a period of years, most successfully provided treatment for a singularly pathetic class of case not otherwise overtaken by the various medical charities of Glasgow.
The work of the Hospital went from strength to strength. Between 1906 and 1916 17% of the children had died. By 1919 354 cases had passed through the hospital and 41 had died which represented less than 9%, an overall improvement. At this time most of the cases treated were tuberculosis, though rickets were treated as well. The length of stay ranged from one month to 2 years 5 months. Following an anonymous donation a ward was built and equipped to care for children with acute rheumatism. After several years, however, it was decided that the children in this ward would do just as well at home. In 1934 the Committee agreed to accept children suffering from incipient tuberculosis for whom no special hospital or home was available. The view was that if given good care, living in the country with plenty of fresh air and good food, these children would have an increased chance of not developing TB and grow up healthy young people. With the creation of the NHS on the 5th July 1948, the control of the hospital changed and it became part of the Board of Management for Glasgow and District Childrens Hospital and later part of the Yorkhill Childrens and Maternity Hospitals. The function of the hospital did not change a great deal. It cared for children who were physically handicapped or suffering from Spina Bifida with respite being provided as well. However, the hospital fell victim to the changing pattern of care for such children as the emphasis switched to smaller units located in the child's home area - travelling to the hospital had always been an issue. The decision was taken to close the hospital and it closed in September 1994. The site was sold to a private contractor and it is now a housing estate.

Bed Figures 1944
Dr Fleming's patients(incipient tuberculosis) 10 beds
Public Health Department 15 beds
Voluntary Hospitals A) County patients
B) Received by Settlement 15 beds
Total 40 beds

How the hospital was financed

When it started in 1904, the cost of maintaining a child for a year was £20. The costs were met by donations from the Invalid School Committee at the Queen Margaret Settlement. Other donations came from the Kennyhill Bequest. Patients placed by the Public Health Department brought with them a regular payment whether or not the bed was occupied of 15s (75p) per week. The various Infirmaries, which placed the children, also made small donations according to their means. Friends of the hospital would also endow a bed and pledged to subscribe sufficient money to support that bed for a year. As the cost of caring for a child went up, so did the charge per bed. By 1906 it became imperative that more subscribers were found. Grants were sought from the Common Good Fund, Ministering Children’s League, the McCallum Trust, Peter Coat’s Trust and whatever institution / charity the hospital could appeal to. Legacies were received and often a cot was named in memory of the person who had left the money. Jumble sales were held and in neighbouring villages concerts were arranged and the proceeds given to the hospital. Special appeals were made from time to time, usually when building was necessary such as in 1913 and 1927. Flag days such as the Alexandra Rose Day also brought in a substantial sum of money. There was a collecting box, which still survives and is displayed in the Village Club, which was placed on the fence near the Gowk Stane Track so passers by could donate money. In 1930 a public meeting was held at Strathblane to stimulate public interest. It was opened by the Lady Provost and Sir D Y Cameron and the Rev George McLeod spoke. The meeting recognised the good work done by the Children’s Home Hospital for Glasgow children suffering from surgical tuberculosis and complications of acute rheumatism and strongly recommended the public to support the work done by giving financial aid. With the withdrawal of funding from the Samaritan Society, who contributed £24, a year and the University in 1932 a Mrs Stewart, a professional collector,undertook to collect on behalf of the hospital. Messrs G R Brook & Co issued a booklet about the work of the Hospital free of charge with the adverts paying for the cost. In total 2000 booklets were issued. By 1934 finances were in quite a healthy state and this allowed the cost per child per week to fall from 27/4-½d (£1.37p) to 25/11d-(£1.29 p). Over the next few years donations came from a number of sources - £500 to provide a cot in memory of Dr Alfred Young, a £1000 from the Tennant Trust, £500 from the Gardiner Trust and so on.

Parental contributions

Only patients from Glasgow could be admitted provided they were paid for. In February 1921 it was decided that the children of parents who were sufficiently well off could be admitted as paying patients. There was a form of Means Testing and parents were asked to make contributions according to their ability to pay. However with the economic recession in the 1920s and 30’s it was frequently difficult for parents to do this. During 1931 parents removed 6 patients as their dole money was reduced because their child was in hospital. This action needless to say undid all the good work that had been done at the hospital. The majority of patients were from Glasgow but if on the odd occasion one was admitted from elsewhere the fees were higher.

Visiting times over the years

Every three months unless for special reason
Every two months
Every month but only on Saturdays and after 12.30 pm
Every two weeks as weekly visiting upsetting to children - soon moved back to every Saturday Tuesdays and Saturdays

©Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2004