CollectionGB 1105 NHS Grampian Archives
Ref NoGRHB 1
TitleRecords of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Date1713 - 1980
Extent149.37 Linear Metres (707 volumes, plus 633 offsite; 26 boxes)
Creator NameAberdeen Infirmary; Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Administrative HistoryThe magistrates, the Town Council, the Bretheren of the Guild, the Kirk Session, the Trades Convener Court and 'the Principall Inhabitants of the Citie' of Aberdeen were the people responsible for the founding of the Infirmary in 1739. The original idea had been to build a joint Infirmary, Poor House and Lunatic Asylum but it was decided on 30th November 1739 that the poor house should be situated behind the Tolbooth, and the Infirmary (with six 'bedlam' calls) on the Woolmanhill, 'on account of the goodness of the air there'.

The foundation stone was laid on 1 January 1740, and the hospital was ready for occupation in 1742. In the same year the system of joint management with the poor house was broken, and the two establishments became entirely separate. By 1773 the Infirmary was so well established that it followed Edinburgh's example and obtained its first Charter - becoming Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

In 1818 new accommodation was added for 42 patients and by 1831 gas lamps, instead of oil were introduced. In 1832 it was decided to build accommodation for 60 fever patients which was completed at a cost of £5,000 the following year. Between 1837 and 1840 a further extension scheme was completed a cost of £16,700 to provide accommodation for 230 patients. The Simpson building which stands at the front of Woolmanhill is all that now remains of this.

Less than 50 years later, a scheme for the complete rebuilding of the Infirmary was inaugurated by Mr (later Sir) William Henderson, then Lord Provost, as a 'memorial to the Fiftieth Anniversary of Her Majesty's Reign'. The Jubilee Extension Fund was established in 1887 and plans were adopted providing for the retention of the main building for administrative purposes and the erection of new medical and surgical pavilions, a block to serve as a laundry and a pathological house. The Surgical Pavilion and the pathological block were completed and opened in 1892, and the Medical Pavilion in 1897.

From 1908 to 1912, with the aid of £26,758 gifted by Lord Mount-Stephen for that purpose, three new operating theatres and a casualty and out-patients block were built.

Although the number of beds in the Infirmary increased after the First World War to 366, the inadequacy of accommodation in it and in the other voluntary hospitals in Aberdeen had for some time caused concern. This led to the 'Joint Hospitals Scheme', the brain-child of Professor Matthew Hay, the Medical Officer of Health for Aberdeen, being adopted in 1920. This scheme was intended to solve the problems of space and efficiency by centralising all the major voluntary hospital services on one spacious site to provide better treatment, better health conditions (fresh air, etc), better teaching facilities and economy of administration with shared services such as heating, laundry and equipment. In 1923 the Foresterhill site was set aside for the scheme and the first hospital to move, the Royal Aberdeen Hospital for Sick Children, was completed in 1928 and opened in 1929.

The Infirmary had no building fund and no steps were taken to raise one until Mr (later Sir) Andrew Lewis, as Lord Provost of Aberdeen, did so in 1927. A sum of £100,000 was immediately promised from Viscount and Viscountess Cowdray, Sir Thomas Jaffrey and Sir Robert William of Park, who each gave £25,000. Two years later the fund stood at £410,000, with £350,000 earmarked for the Infirmary and the rest for the Maternity Hospital.

The foundation stone of the new Infirmary was laid on 28th August 1928 and the hospital was opened in 1936 at a cost of around £525,000. It consisted of three blocks and a nurses' home, and accommodated 500 patients. In 1937 the Maternity Hospital moved to the site, and later the Ante-Natal Annexe and the University of Aberdeen's Medical Buildings joined them. Further major extensions were carried out in 1966 and 1976. In 1978, Accident and Emergency moved to Foresterhill from Woolmanhill, where it had been since 1936, with the first beds being used in 1979.

In 1948 the Infirmary was absorbed into the newly created National Health Service.
DescriptionGRHB 1/1: Minutes, 1739 - 1948 (indexed from 1742)
GRHB 1/2: Financial records, 1739-1964 (including ledgers, 1742-1890, 1899-1948; cashbooks, 1800-1902; housekeepers day books, 1749-1794, 1800-1804, legacies, 1739-1964)
GRHB 1/3: Registers (admissions [except 1884-1902] and discharges to 1954, operations from 1929 to 1951, eye operations from 1930 to 1961), 1753 - 1961 [Indexes to admissions, 1925-1954, registers of deaths, 1920-1967]
GRHB 1/4: Case notes (incomplete series), 1743 - 1807
GRHB 1/5: Ward journals, 1895-1951
GRHB 1/6: Nurse training records, 1890 - 1951 (indexed)
GRHB 1/7: Annual reports, disease statistics, etc., 1836 - 1947 (including annual reports of the Aberdeen (Royal) Lunatic Asylum, 1838-1859)
GRHB 1/8: Domestic and catering staff records, 1897 - 1976
GRHB 1/9: Various material relating to Towie estate, 1713-1933, and to Kinaldie estate (Kinnellar parish), 1828 - 1945
GRHB 1/10: Regulations, printed histories, etc., 1754 - 1948
GRHB 1/11: Legal papers referring to land and property, court cases, bequests, etc., 1740 - 1955
GRHB 1/12: Papers relating to the Joint Hospitals Scheme, 1923 - 1948
GRHB 1/13: Correspondence re Corporation of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Lunatic Asylum, bonds and dispositions, legal papers, etc., 1740 - 1944
GRHB 1/14: Pauper patient list, 1848-1881; Visitors books, 1901-1950; Rolls of managers, 1849-1948; Students ticket book, 1889-1946;
GRHB 1/15: Miscellaneous correspondence, papers and files relating to the Infirmary, 1810 - 1956;

Maps and plans of Towie, Kinaldie, Woolmanhill and Foresterhill, 1831 - 1935; Photos, 1900-1980, news film, 1936.
Access StatusRestricted
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