A Hospital on the Move: Pretending to be ready for Princess Beatrice, Sciennes 1895

Illustration by Cate James

An opening ceremony for the new hospital at Sciennes was planned for 31st October 1895 with Princess Beatrice attending to name the first ward. This was the fourth move for the Hospital which had been temporarily relocated to Plewlands House in Morniningside due to a typhoid outbreak at Meadowside House, and whilst the site at Sciennes was purchased and the new hospital built. 

The Lothian Health Service archives carry a warning for organisers of any opening ceremony at Little France! 

On 28th October 1895, three days before the ceremony, Matron noted that the Hospital was not ready to receive patients.

In a letter to Dr Carmichael on the same day, the secretary reports: 'the convalescent children should be brought over and put in bed for the purpose of the ceremony, and then afterwards taken back to Plewlands.' This was the Beatrice Ward. I like to imagine them fully dressed under the covers and the odd boot toe peeking out!

In another fortnight the building was ready. On finally moving in all patients, letters show that an upholsterers' van (WR Clapperton and Co, Princes Street) as well as some St Andrews ambulances were used to move patients to the new site.

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