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Project Title: Caring For Veterans Since 1916

Exhibition: The history of Erskine

Erskine Hospital, as it was known, opened its doors in 1916 to care for the wounded of the First World War. Young men marched off in 1914 in defence of the free world and came back from the battlefields limbless and bearing terrifying wounds. The carnage carried on for four years. Just over twenty years later another generation went to war again. World War II proved the most devastating war of all time. Since then there have been more than 90 conflicts throughout the world. In fact, since the ending of the Second World War there has been just one year that our great British forces have not been engaged in war or peace keeping initiatives around the world. This exhibition, curated by Erskine, tells the story of Erskine Hospital from its beginnings on the River Clyde to its present unrivalled standard of care for veterans.

Assets in this exhibition:

Birds eye view of the Princess Louise Hospital

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Princess Louise Hospital located on the 240 acre Earl of Mar Estate on the River Clyde with the gently rolling Kilpatrick Hills on the far bank. In ancient Scotland, Mar was one of the seven Pictish kingdoms and the Earl of Mar is the oldest title in Britain while the Mar Estate has a long and fascinating history. As far back as the 14th century there was a grand aristocratic castle built on the land - reference is made in the record books of Mary Queen of Scots and Robert the Bruce having visited - though presumably not at the same time. Then in 1828 a lavish Gothic mansion house was commissioned by the Earl of Mar at a cost of around £50,000.

Source

Date: 1916
Location: The Princess Louise Hospital, Bishopton
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Looking back

The casualties of the First World War came flooding in placing huge demand on our Hospitals. In 1915, in the first two hours of the Battle of Loos, more British soldiers died than the total number of casualties on both sides on D-Day 1944. On the second day of the battle 12 British battalions totalling just under 10,000 men lost 382 officers and 7,681 other ranks killed and wounded in three and a half hours of fighting.

Our hospitals were unable to cope with the needs of the large number of limbless and in the autumn of 1915 there were 2000 patients who could not be accommodated. There was a growing feeling that Scotland should have a large, up-to-date hospital and it was suggested that Sir William Macewen, the eminent surgeon, with his great influence, could render more effective help than anyone else.

A meeting was held in Glasgow and Committee formed. A deputation lead by Sir William Macewen went to see Sir Thomas Dunlop the Lord Provost of Glasgow, to tell him about the need for a hospital, to receive his enthusiastic support.

The next challenge was to find a suitable building for the new hospital, which was to be sited in the West of Scotland.

After reviewing several houses, Mr Thomson Aikman, the owner of the Mansion House of Erskine, situated on the banks of the Clyde, generously offered the free use of the Mansion House and gardens and policies of Erskine for the period of the war and for 12 years after the Declaration of Peace.

He also gave the committee the option to make the Institution a permanent one on payment of the agricultural value of the ground. Indeed, Mr John Reid bought the house and grounds and presented them to the hospital. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, agreed to become patron of the new hospital to be named the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers. Within a few weeks of the announcement the Scottish public contributed a staggering £100,000 towards the new hospital and on October 10th 1916, it opened its doors.

The official opening by Princess Louise took place on June 6, 1917, a date marked every year by the charity as it celebrates Erskine Week and draws awareness of its work not just in the west, but throughout Scotland.

Hundreds of gifts flooded in. An operating theatre and dispensary were fitted out and the building to the southwest of the mansion was converted into workshops. Throughout the years, this was where the artificial limbs were crafted, fitted and adjusted. At this time Britain was wholly dependent on foreign sources for the supply of the artificial limbs. Macewen felt that this was intolerable and enlisted the help of the shipbuilders and engineers of nearby Clydeside. Mr Harold Yarrow (later Sir Harold), lent not only his yard’s technical assistance, but also some of its best craftsmen, and one third of the pattern shop at Yarrow and Company was used for making artificial arms and legs.

By December 1917, the hospital had already admitted 1,613 patients and the number of men discharged with new limbs had reached 1,126. Contributions to the hospital had reached £200,000. Emergency huts were built to cope with the demand of the incoming casualties bringing the total number of beds to 400. By the end of 1920, no less than 9,500 patients had been fitted with new limbs – the majority made in the Hospital’s Workshops.


Erskine House

Exhibition Image One

Description

Erskine House (1828-45), was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum. During the First World War it became the Princess Louise Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

During the early 18th century the estate and old Erskine House came into the ownership of the Lords Blantyre. In 1828 Major General Robert W Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre and a distinguished veteran of the Wellington’s Peninsular campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars, commissioned the present house. His architect, Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) was still engaged in designing the British Museum. That, however, is a very classical design whereas Erskine House is more Gothic with touches of Tudor. The stone was quarried locally. Sir Charles Barry produced designs for the gardens. Sadly Lord Blantyre never saw his house as he was killed in Brussels during the 1830 uprising that led to the birth of Belgium. The house was completed only in 1845. The final cost was £50,000, about £2.5m today.

When the Blantyre line became extinct in 1900 the house was left derelict but in 1916 it re-opened as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital of Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

Source

Date: approx 1916
Location: Erskine House, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Reid Macewen Buildings

Exhibition Image One

Description

The buildings were named Reid Macewen in honour of Erskine's two greatest patrons. Sir John Reid donated the Erskine Estate and Mansion House, which was converted to the original hospital. Sir William Macewen was the eminent surgeon who led the initiative to create Erskine. Both men worked tirelessly for the benefit of Erskine and its brave patients

Source

Date: approx 1916
Location: The Erskine Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Workshop for artificial limbs

Exhibition Image One

Description

An operating theatre and dispensary were fitted out and the building to the southwest of the mansion was converted into workshops. Throughout the years, this was where the artificial limbs were crafted, fitted and adjusted. At this time Britain was wholly dependent on foreign sources for the supply of the artificial limbs. Macewen felt that this was intolerable and enlisted the help of the shipbuilders and engineers of nearby Clydeside. Mr Harold Yarrow (later Sir Harold), lent not only his yard’s technical assistance, but also some of its best craftsmen, and one third of the pattern shop at Yarrow and Company was used for making artificial arms and legs.

Source

Date: after 1916
Location: The Erskine Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


World War I veterans relaxing in the recreation room

Exhibition Image One

Description

This photograph, taken in 1917, shows some of the soldiers who were recovering from their wounds at the Princess Louise Hospital, from which the views are breathtaking, whether looking onto the River Clyde or the beautiful gardens. The Grand Hall, formerly known as the Picture Gallery, is 118 feet in length. Floods of light stream through the tall windows where the soldiers could play a variety of games whilst recuperating.

Source

Date: 1917
Location: The Princess Louise Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Post war expansion and the new Erskine

This period was not without its difficulties. A shortage of building materials, increases in day to day expenditure including marked increases in rates and taxes were slowing progress despite continued support from the Scottish public as the hospital appealed for funds.

Work carried on but not quite at the pace everyone would have liked. However, the Erskine of the future was now taking shape. Where possible, Erskine also opened its doors to ex-Service men in need of convalescent treatment following surgery or illness.

By 1951, the number of disabled at Erskine totalled 239. A few years later, the new block designed to deal with the more acute surgical and medical cases was nearing completion and would involve a major reorganisation of the hospital’s facilities. By 1955 the moves were complete with the minimum disruption to residents.

The following year Erskine celebrated the 96th birthday of its oldest resident Henry Martin, who had served in the South African War and the oldest living holder of the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

By the early 1960’s there were about 60 older veterans who were residents at Erskine and of the 253 patients treated in the surgical and medical wards, 25 were casualties of the First World War still coping with their physical injuries.

Demand for Erskine Care remained high, a story that has remained unchanged and one that Erskine’s long serving members of staff know only too well. By 1963 the biggest extension to the permanent buildings was opened in the form of four large wards with modern medical and surgical equipment known as the Ross Wing in memory of Mr Herbert M Ross, who lost a leg while serving with the Scottish Horse in the First World War.

In 1966 Erskine celebrated its 50th anniversary, marked by a civic reception in Glasgow’s City Chambers, where fifty years before Sir William Macewen had launched the wonderful vision that was Erskine Hospital.

With 11,000 war pensioners in Scotland from the 1914-18 war and 40,000 from World War II and later wars, Erskine knew that although that the number from the First Great War would be greatly reduced in the next decade, there would be an increase in applications from subsequent wars; and as we know today this proved to be a very accurate prediction.

Half a century on Erskine’s role had expanded to meet the changing demands by our war veterans. It cares for all disabled ex-Service men whether their injuries were sustained during war or subsequently, as well as providing convalescent care for those recovering from illness.


New operating theatre

Exhibition Image One

Description

The completion of the Red Cross Block Convalescent Block in 1950 was the first step in the creation of ‘New Erskine’ along with the replacement of the huts originally erected as temporary structures in the early days.

Erskine was expanding its care to deal with the aftermath of two devastating World Wars. At this time, plans for the erection of a two-storey building designed to take the place of the few huts still standing from the First World War gathered pace. Four new wards with a modern operating theatre and other facilities had to be modified, possibly due to financial restrictions, and the Executive Committee made the decision to go ahead with only part of the original building. By 1951, the number of disabled at Erskine totalled 239. A few years later, the new block designed to deal with the more acute surgical and medical cases was nearing completion and would involve a major reorganisation of the hospital’s facilities. By 1955 the moves were complete with the minimum disruption to residents.

Source

Date: 1951
Location: The Erskine Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Veteran being fitted for artificial limb

Exhibition Image One

Description

By December 1917, the hospital had already admitted 1,613 patients and the number of men discharged with new limbs had reached 1,126. Contributions to the hospital had reached £200,000. Emergency huts were built to cope with the demand of the incoming casualties bringing the total number of beds to 400. By the end of 1920, no less than 9,500 patients had been fitted with new limbs – the majority made in the Hospital’s Workshops.

Source

Date: 1950s
Location: The Erskine Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Physiotherapy in the 50s

Exhibition Image One

Description

Recuperating veterans play “Hand Football” in the Physiotherapy Department.

Source

Date: 1950s
Location: The Erskine Hospital, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


From old to new

During the 1980s Erskine continued to adapt and develop its facilities including the support services such as Social Work and Speech Therapy departments. There had been great improvement in the range of nursing aids, particularly lifting equipment to assist the increasing numbers of frail and elderly patients. The Physiotherapy department had been refurbished and was busy as ever.

The expected influx from the Gulf War did not materialise but as ever Erskine was prepared to help future generations as it had done for the veterans of the World Wars.

Erskine had been grateful for the use of the Mansion House for over 80 years, but the extent of dry rot, deterioration of windows; roof and stone work resulted in a major programme of repairs. Time had come to determine Erskine’s strategy as it approached the 21st century.

Erskine Hospital had adjusted and developed for over eighty years to meet the many challenges it faced, whether extensions, adaptation, new buildings and finding funds. The task of overseeing the most rapid and exciting development in the hospital’s history fell to Colonel Martin Gibson, who retired as Chief of Staff of the Army in Scotland. Following three decades in The Royal Scots, Colonel Gibson took the helm as Chief Executive in 1995.


Modern Physiotherapy

Exhibition Image One

Description

Head Physiotherapist, Janet Leith, taking veterans through their exercises and one of the classes held within the Physiotherapy Department at The Erskine Home, Bishopton.

Source

Date: 2008
Contributor: Erskine Communications Department
Location: The Erskine Home, Bishopton
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Colonel Martin Gibson, OBE

Exhibition Image One

Description

Colonel Martin Gibson, OBE Chief Executive Officer of Erskine from 1995 until 2009. Colonel Gibson’s arrival at Erskine coincided with one of the most dramatic eras of change since Erskine’s foundation. Significant changes in regulation combined with a desire to prepare for the 21st century saw Erskine embark on a new road with the implementation of the Erskine 2000 strategic plan.

The total cost of this project was estimated at £20 million. The main focus was the building of a flagship home, near the existing hospital within the Estate in Bishopton along with regional care homes in other parts of the country. By the time of his departure Colonel Gibson had seen flagship home, The Erskine Home, completed along with 4 others together with an additional 48 bed wing to the Erskine Edinburgh Home.

Source

Date: 2008
Contributor: Erskine Communications Department
Location: The Erskine Home, Bishopton
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Onwards and upwards

Erskine’s journey through the years has been a difficult and arduous one but made so worthwhile by the fact the name Erskine now synonymous with an unrivalled standard of care, supported by each and every Care Commission Report received.

Erskine still has the challenge of meeting the demands for beds against a growing shortfall between statutory income and the funds needed to provide the enhanced care for which Erskine is renowned. As always Erskine will rise to the challenge to provide the care which the 75,000 men and women who have found their way to Erskine over the past 93 years so richly deserve.


Erskine Mains Home

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Erskine Mains Home, opened in 2001, is situated in the heart of the Erskine community. It provides nursing and dementia care, both long term and respite, for 34 residents on a 24 hour basis.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: Erskine Communications Department
Location: The Erskine Mains, Home, Mains Drive, Erskine
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Erskine Edinburgh Home

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Erskine Edinburgh Home opened in 2002. The home is situated in Gilmerton in the heart of the community. The purpose-built care home provides nursing and dementia care, both long term and respite, for 88 residents on a 24 hour basis.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: Erskine Communications Department
Location: The Edinburgh Home, Edinburgh
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


The Erskine Glasgow Home

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Erskine Glasgow Home is situated in Anniesland in the heart of the community. Opened in 2007, it provides nursing and dementia care for 46 residents on a 24 hour basis.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: The Erskine Communications Department
Location: Anniesland, Glasgow
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


The Erskine Park Home, Bishopton, Renfrewshire

Exhibition Image One

Description

Within rural parkland by the Erskine Bridge in Bishopton, increasing demand for dementia care is accommodated by the purpose built Erskine Park Home which opened in 2006. Care is provided for 40 residents.

Source

Date: 2006
Contributor: The Erskine Communications Department
Location: Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


The Erskine Home, Bishopton

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Erskine Home in Bishopton opened in 2000, and is situated in picturesque grounds by the Erskine Bridge. This purpose-built home provides nursing and dementia care, both long term and respite, for 180 residents on a 24 hour basis. With 140 permanent and 10 respite nursing care beds, as well as 28 permanent and 2 respite dementia care beds, dignity, privacy and respect, all synonymous with Erskine, are of paramount importance.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: The Erskine Communications Department
Location: Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


Major Jim Panton

Exhibition Image One

Description

Major Jim Panton spent 11 years in the Army Air Corps as a helicopter pilot. During his service he spent several years on exchange with the American Army and became only the 5th British Officer to fly Apache helicopters. After leaving the army he settled in Scotland. There then followed 5 years as business consultant working across various organisations including several charities before he took the reins at PoppyScotland, formerly known as the Earl Haig Fund Scotland. Three and half years on, he has now moved to the Chief Executive’s post within Erskine.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: The Erskine Communications Department
Location: Bishopton, Renfrewshire
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library


William McDowell, SG

Exhibition Image One

Description

William McDowall was born in Greenock and served in the Scots Guards for 9 years from 19 77 until 1986. He is a veteran of Northern Ireland and the Falklands.

Bill is now IT Manager for Erskine and also works tirelessly to raise awareness of Erskine and its sterling work.

Source

Date: 2008
Contributor: Erskine Communications Department
Location: Bishopton, Erskine
Original Source: The Erskine Communications Department Picture Library