It is now the centre of many medical discoveries and innovations, but Aberdeen Royal Infirmary today is unrecognisable from its humble beginnings.
The NHS Grampian Archives has been working with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust on the Amplify project, which showcases the histories of three of the city’s most well known medical sites – Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI), Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
Here's something to watch!This video has been made by NHS Grampian Archives in collaboration with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust as part of their Amplify project. Looking at the history of the Joint Hospitals Scheme, first mentioned 100 years ago in 1920, and which created the Foresterhill Health Campus as we know it today, the Archives and GHAT are researching its origins and the history of the three hospitals involved. Beginning with Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, this video shows a brief history of its beginnings at Woolmanhill in the city centre, and its development at Foresterhill following its move there in the 1930s. More videos will follow in due course, so keep an eye out!You can see more from GHAT on their Feelgood Friday pages online at http://www.ghat-art.org.uk/feel-good-friday/
Posted by NHS Grampian Archives on Friday, 17 April 2020
Despite thousands of patients now passing through its doors each day, ARI opened to just four patients in 1742, and admitted 21 patients in its first year of operation.
Fiona Musk, NHS Grampian archivist, said: “Having noticed the developments taking place in healthcare provision elsewhere for the general populace, the magistrates, town council and principal inhabitants of Aberdeen expressed in 1739 their intention to build an infirmary.
“Paid for by public subscriptions, donations and legacies, the foundation stone was laid in 1740 and the Infirmary house opened its doors to the first four patients in August 1742.”
Many changes took place in the early part of the 1800s, and there’s now little sign left of the original infirmary building.
There were also other new improvements in the city, including the opening of a dedicated mental health hospital and the construction of the Simpson Pavilion in the 1830s, which provided accommodation for 230 patients.
In the 1890s, further expansion took place, including the opening of the Victoria and Mount Stephen Pavilions, laundry and pathological blocks and a new outpatient and casualty building.
Fiona added: “After the war, the Infirmary became part of the Joint Hospitals Scheme, put forward by Medical Officer of Health for the City of Aberdeen Matthew Hay.
“Following the purchase of the site at Foresterhill, the foundation stone for the new Infirmary was laid to much fanfare in 1928 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) though building didn’t begin in earnest until the early 1930s. The new buildings were opened in 1936 by the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI.
“Over the last century further development and expansion has seen the site become the largest hospital complex in Europe and one of the largest teaching hospitals.
“What’s now the main entrance, known as Phase I, was opened in 1966 by the Queen Mother, and the tower block, Phase II, in 1977.
“Accident and Emergency moved from Woolmanhill in 1978, and there have been many alterations and additions since then. The Emergency Care Building – also known as the Matthew Hay Building – was officially opened in 2013.”