Glimpses of Old Glasgow

The following is from Glimpses of Old Glasgow by Andrew Aird:

Our Infirmaries

The Royal Infirmary

THE ROYAL INFIRMARY, opened on 8th December, 1794, is the oldest of the charitable institutions of the city. During the century of its existence it has been of the utmost service in the interests of thousands of patients treated and relieved, as well as for the advancement of medical science. It was here, while acting as fever physician, Dr. Robert Perry first distinguished typhoid from typhus fever; and here also Sir Joseph Lister first began his antiseptic treatment of wounds with carbolic acid, which is now so universally valued.

With the growth and extension of the city this institution had to increase its accommodation, and also its medical staff. When first opened its staff consisted of two physicians and four surgeons; now it consists of thirty-nine, including physicians and surgeons, with their assistants and specialists. For many years it was the only available hospital in the city, and from such a large manufacturing and shipbuilding centre, more accidents were received into it than into almost any other hospital in the kingdom. To meet these a surgical wing was built and opened in 1860.

For the year ending 31st December, 1893, the number who received advice as out-patients was 46,863, while the number of patients admitted was 5,197 - 2,029 medical and 2,478 surgical. The available beds for patients are now 580, while the nurses number 125, and the general servants 69. The skill and treatment received have always been prized and favoured by the working classes and poorer citizens who require medical advice and aid. Its school of medicine was instituted in 1876 to provide students with a thorough medical education.

The classes were largely taken advantage of, so that a new building, specially adapted, was built on the Infirmary grounds, and opened in 1882, There is also attached to the Infirmary a Training School for Nurses, where women desirous of entering on the career of nursing require to attend two sessions and pass two examinations before they are admitted as probationers in the wards. After three years' training and residence as probationers, and passing a final and practical examination, certificates as trained nurses are granted.

Western Infirmary

The idea of a Western Infirmary for Glasgow, though realised only in 1874, may be traced as far back as 1846, when, owing to railway extensions, it was contemplated to remove the old University in High Street to Gilmorehill. In view of this it was necessary to provide clinical instruction for the medical students; besides, owing to the extension of the city westwards, with its manufactories and shipyards, such an hospital in the western district was urgently required. It was not, however, till 1871 that building operations for the Infirmary really began. In the beginning of 1874 a dispensary for out-patients was opened, and towards its close wards containing 200 beds were available for in-patients. In 1879 the late Mr. Freeland's handsome gift of 40,000 allowed the accommodation to be doubled. The wards are all ventilated by air-shafts, and warmed by open fires and hot water pipes. The total cost of the Infirmary, including the site, is over 135,000. The resident and visiting physicians and surgeons are recognised as amongst our ablest medical practitioners, while the nurses are drawn from the educated classes, and trained in the Infirmary. Its affairs are managed by twenty-seven directors, of whom nine are elected by the subscribers and eighteen by the University, the Town Council, the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and other bodies. The number of patients for the past year was - indoor, 4,083; outdoor, 13,637.

Victoria Infirmary

This hospital for the southern district has supplied a felt want. For several years there was an urgent and increasing necessity for additional hospital accommodation beyond what was provided by the Royal and Western Infirmaries. Dr. Eben. Duncan took up the matter, and through his indefatigable efforts a public meeting was held in 1881. At this gathering a committee was appointed to take preliminary steps for establishing an Infirmary on the south side of the river. Various causes delayed further action till 28th February, 1887, when at another public meeting the scheme was formally launched, and in a short time afterwards the erection was begun on a site adjoining the Queen's Park. The buildings, to accommodate eighty patients, were opened and dedicated on 14th February, 1889. The original plans admitted of the addition of pavilions from time to time as necessity and means justified. Accordingly on 7th December, 1893, an additional pavilion was opened. The 150 beds at present available are fully occupied. The buildings throughout are lighted by electricity, and the systems adopted for heating and ventilating, designed by Mr. William Key, have been most successful, and have gained the admiration of scientific experts. The medical staff is skilful, and the equipment throughout it complete. The governors, who manage, are elected on a popular basis, and include representative working men.

Since the institution was opened 4,395 patients have been received, and 26,984 cases have been treated at the Infirmary dispensary, and 26,250 at the Tradeston dispensary. From the outset it has been liberally supported. Besides many generous and handsome subscriptions received at its inception, the governors have been greatly encouraged by receiving from the trustees of Mr. Robert Couper, Cathcart, 38,987; from Miss Barr of Carphin, Cupar-Fife, 10,500; and from the trustees of Mr. William Stirling, 5,000. The successful organisation, equipment and development of the Victoria Infirmary are largely due to the governors and a devoted executive committee, but specially to the zeal and energy of Sir Renny Watson, and Messrs. William Lorimer, W. B. Crawford, and John Laing.

Eye Infirmary

The first home of this valuable hospital was opened in 1824, in old Inkle Factory Lane in Albion Street. In 1834 it was removed to College Street, and again in 1851 to Charlotte Street, occupying the house of David Dale, the worthy philanthropist. The extension of the boundaries of the city, and the increase of those industries calculated to cause accidents to the eye, led to new and more spacious buildings being erected in 1874 in Berkeley Street, west end; these were again added to a few years afterwards. The Charlotte Street premises were retained as a dispensary for the east end, the increasing attendance of patients making improved accommodation there quite a necessity, a new building (adjoining the present premises) fulfilling all the requirements of modern science, was opened on 25th June, 1893. The total number of cases treated grew from 4,157 in 1874, to 15,416 in 1893; of these, 9,052 patients were treated at Berkeley Street, and 6,364 at Charlotte Street. The number of resident patients in 1893 was 1,372. It is most gratifying to know that about 13,500 were dismissed during the year; of that number not fewer than 10,000 had been cured, while above 3,000 had been relieved by treatment, leaving not more than about 200 where treatment had been unsuccessful. This Infirmary has now for more than seventy years occupied a very important and useful place among the institutions of the city, and is deserving of liberal support.

Entertainment to Nurses by Lord Provost Bell

The nurses of our infirmaries and other institutions in the city are ever rendering quiet and effective service in the cause of suffering humanity. As a class they are most deserving recognition. On the occasion, therefore, of the centenary of the Royal Infirmary, this was done in a worthy and generous manner by the Hon. the Lord Provost and Mrs. Bell. On their invitation, the nurses of the various institutions, with a number of ladies and gentlemen, were entertained to a most interesting conversazione and dance within the City Chambers, on Monday, 5th March, 1894. The company numbered upwards of 2,000 persons. The distinctive uniforms worn by the nurses, mixing with the more varied dresses of the ladies and the sombre black of the gentlemen as they promenaded through the brilliantly-lit rooms and corridors, had a most pleasing effect. The meeting will long be remembered by those privileged to be present.

The following hospitals and institutions were represented by their nurses in their various uniforms:-

Royal Infirmary - Lilac and White Striped Print Dress, White Cotton Apron, White Lawn Cap untrimmed. Western Infirmary - Sisters - Plain Blue Dress; Nurses - Blue Stripe; Probationers - Blue Check, White Linen Apron, Collar and Cuffs. Victoria Infirmary - Sisters - Blue and White Check Dress; Probationers -Pink and White Stripe. Royal Hospital for Sick Children - Sisters - Navy Blue Galatea Dress, White Linen Apron and Cambric Cap; Nurses - Blue and White Check Dress, White Linen Apron, Cambric and Lace Cap; Probationers - Black and White Check Dress, White Linen Apron, and Cambric Cap, with frill. Glasgow Training Home for Nurses (Miss M'Alpine) - Nurses - Navy Blue Serge Dress, White Cap and Apron; Probationers - Black and White Striped Galatea, White Cap and Apron.

Glasgow Sick Poor and Private Nursing Association, 218 Bath Street - Dark Blue Cambric Dress, White Linen Cap and Apron. V.R.I. on arm - Queen Victoria Jubilee Nurses. Maternity Hospital - Nurses - Dark Blue Print Dress, White Apron, Cap, with strings tied under chin; Pupils - Grey Print Dress, White Cap and Apron. Broomhill Home - Dark Blue and White Stripe Dress, White Apron, White Spotted Net Cap. General Nursing Institution - Navy Blue Serge Dress, White Linen Apron, Nightingale Cap. Glasgow Eye Infirmary - Narrow Blue and White Stripe Print Dress (Bishop sleeves), Linen Apron, Net Cap, with lace and ties. Gartnavel - Grey Dress, While Apron, White Muslin Cap, with band of black velvet. Woodilee Hospital - Black Dress, White Muslin Apron, Tulle Cap. Kirkland's Asylum Hospital - Navy Blue Serge Dress, Muslin Apron, White Lawn Cap. Barony Parish Hospital - Staff Nurses - Blue Serge Dress, White Apron, Nightingale Cap, Leather Belt; Probationers from Queen Victoria Jubilee Nursing Institute - Blue Striped Galatea Dress, White Apron, Leather Belt, Nightingale Cap. Pupils from Royal Derbyshire Nursing Institute - Grey Twill Dress, White Apron, Leather Belt, Nightingale Cap. City Parish Hospital - Nurses - Black Dress and Belt, White Apron, White Gloves, Cambric Cap and strings; Probationers - Lilac Dress, Belt, and Gloves, White Apron, Cambric Cap. Govan Parish Hospital - Dark Navy Blue Serge Dress (Bishop sleeves), Long White Apron, White Spot Net Cap, lace border. Glasgow Samaritan Hospital - Blue and White Striped Print Dress, White Apron, Lace Cap, with ties. St. Elizabeth's Hospital - Grey Dress, White Apron and Cap, with lace. Private Nursing Home, Berkeley Terrace - Grey Linen Dress, Apron, Sister Dora Cap, Nightingale Collar and Cuffs, Blue Ribbon at collar. Glasgow Cancer Hospital - Electric Blue Dress, white spot, White Apron, White Linen Cap, with strings. Cancer and Skin Institution - Black Dress, White Apron and Cap, Large Collar and Cuffe. Hillhead Nursing Institution - Navy Blue Dress, with small white spots, Nightingale Cap. Eastpark Home - Black Dress, White Apron and Cap, Badge E.P.H. on red ground. Dunoon Convalescent Seaside Homes - Black Dress, White Apron, and collar folding over. Kilmun Convalescent Seaside Home - Black Dress. Glasgow Convalescent Home, Lenzie - Navy Blue Serge Dress.

The following had not the nurses' uniforms described:-

Glasgow Dental Hospital, Glasgow Public Dispensary, Hospital for Skin Diseases, Orphan Homes of Scotland, Hospital for Women, Ear Institution, Co-operation for Trained Nurses; Mission Coast Home, Saltcoats; Hospital for Diseases of Ear, Asylum for Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution, Old Man's Friend Society and Old Women's Home; Lochburn Home, Maryhill.

The Temperance Movement


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