A new video shines a light on the past at a north-east hospital.
NHS Grampian’s archives has joined forces with the Grampian Hospitals Art Trust on the Amplify project, which showcases the history of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) through the ages from each of their inceptions.
Today marks International Midwives Day, and those working in the profession in Aberdeen are based at the maternity hospital at Foresterhill.
However, it hasn’t always been on this spot. Aberdeen Maternity Hospital grew out of the Aberdeen General Dispensary.
By 1800 there were three dispensaries in Aberdeen, which combined in 1823 to form the Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-In Institution.
In 1870, the Dispensary bought two houses in Guestrow, one of which was to serve as a maternity unit, although no qualified midwives were appointed until 1892.
In 1900, the Bank of Scotland offices on Castle Street were bought and turned into the first maternity hospital, becoming independent in 1912.
It had three small wards, the Primrose Ward, the Alice Ward and a private ward.
Here's another video to watch, produced in conjunction with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust, showing a brief history of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. It has its origins in what was known as the Aberdeen Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-In Institution, and opened as a dedicated hospital at 35 Castle Street in 1900. It became the third hospital to move to Foresterhill in the 1930s under the Joint Hospitals Scheme and will be moving to a new site as part of the The Baird Family Hospital and The ANCHOR Centre project.
Posted by NHS Grampian Archives on Friday, 1 May 2020
A prenatal department was also added in 1919 by the town council as part of its mother and child welfare work.
Fiona Musk, archivist at NHS Grampian, said: “The hospital was a late participant in the Joint Hospitals Scheme – not least because of its lack of funds.
“There were also some discussions as to whether a new hospital was needed, as most women gave birth at home, and complicated cases could be treated in the new infirmary.
“However, the infirmary and the University of Aberdeen, which jointly owned most of the Foresterhill site, gifted land to the maternity hospital and building started in 1934.
“The new hospital was opened in 1937 with 32 beds at a cost of £52,000. Eight more beds were added in 1939.
“In 1941 the antenatal hospital was added at the expense of the Corporation of Aberdeen and the County Councils of Aberdeen and Kincardine.
“In 1948, the maternity, like the other hospitals on the Foresterhill site, was taken over by the National Health Service (NHS).
“Since then, there have been major advances in maternity care, and Aberdeen Maternity Hospital continues that tradition with the development of the Baird Family Hospital, which will see the maternity hospital move to a new site on the Foresterhill Health Campus.”
The current facility was the third building to open on the site, following ARI and Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
The Baird Family Hospital is one of two new health facilities being delivered at Foresterhill Health Campus, hoped to open next year.
It will include all maternity, neonatal, reproductive medicine, breast and gynaecology services in one place, and is a huge investment for the city and its health service.
Fiona added: “I’ve really enjoyed putting the videos together. There’s been a few comments online about them.
“Some people might have been in the old maternity hospital building for a different purpose.
“As it was used by the town council for health and welfare purposes, people might have taken their children there in the 50s.
“People know a lot about the history of ARI, but the history of the maternity hospital isn’t well known.
“There’s been booklets on Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and on the infirmary, but there isn’t much on the maternity hospital.
“A lot of women had their babies at home. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that really changed.”
The video has been uploaded to the NHS Grampian Archives Facebook page.