Records of Stratheden Hospital

Published: Thursday 20 Mar 2008 by

Stratheden Hospital

Stratheden Hospital

Stratheden Hospital, or  Fife and Kinross District Asylum as it was first known, opened on July 1st 1866.

Purpose built to accommodate up to 200 mental health patients, the initial patient roster was 159.

The first chief physician, Dr Tuke, was regarded highly as a doctor who changed  the traditional methods of mental health care and helped pioneer the "open door" policy of the hospital. The reporting commissioner  was impressed by this and noted that not one of the patients had abused it, including an inmate from Perth Prison who had been transferred to the hospital. The patients health benefitted greatly from this advancement in treatment and it was noted by the reporting commissioner that this led to the patients becoming "more contented and less destructive."

In 1873 Dr Tuke retired and it was noted in a report by the local health commissioner that under his care the hospital had undertaken "a steady progressive improvement" and had assumed a "very prominent place among the asylums of Scotland."

Further examples of pioneering health care can be seen in the employment of the patients. Patients would do simple jobs, such as teasing hair out of chairs and upholstery, which was paid for. Another note of interest is that a bolt of lightning caused a large fire in 1888, which fortunately resulted in no fatalities.

Dr Tuke was replaced by Dr Fraser, who continued with the hospital in a similar fashion. He in turn was succeeded by Dr Brown, who unfortunately was thrown from his horse and carriage and tragically killed, a tragedy noted as a "melancholy event which caused great loss to science as well as to the institution" by the commissioner of the time.

The next era of the hospital was led under the care of Dr Turnbull, who received many commendations on his running of the hospital, both by visiting commissioners and members of the committee for the hospital. Evidence of this can be seen in the hospital committee minute books; "no-man ever discharged similar duties with more fidelity to the trust imposed in him and with more practical and solicitude for the welfare of his patients." His resignation in 1914 led to what was described as the "end of an era" for the hospital  and was noted that "his influence was felt far beyond the immediate sphere of his daily labours.

Record for Jane Dickson the first female patient admitted to Fife and Kinross Distrcit Asylum i 1866

Record for Jane Dickson the first female patient admitted to Fife and Kinross Distrcit Asylum i 1866

In 1896 the hospital underwent a vast extension programme in order to ease overcrowding. It was described by the reporting commissioner as "a valuable and instructive advance in asylum administration". Over £20,000 was spent, in order to increase the capacity of the hospital to 600.  In 1900 the Springfield estate was completely purchased, and by 1905 two new hospital wings had been opened, to accommodate the large influx of in-patients seen by the hospital at the time.

The proceeding years following Dr Turnbull's resignation followed as stabley as the era would allow. When, in 1947 the National Health Service was created, the hospital system was completely re-organised. The NHS Act 1947 brought in new measures and organisational structures throughout the country, and Fife was no exception. The Springfield Mental Hospital Group, which was the governing body for the surrounding local mental health hospitals, was changed to the Fife Mental Hospital Board of Management. The NHS Act was implemented fully by 5th July 1948. On the 7th July 1948, just two days later, it was decided that Fife and Kinross District Asylum was to also undergo a name change. Implemented in January 1949, Fife and Kinross District Asylum was changed to what we now know as Stratheden Hospital.

Fife Primary Care Trust deposited the historical records of the hospital at the Archive Centre. To find out what records we hold please see the online catalogue on the Archive Centre page.

Archived Feature originally published 20 Mar 2008 - 20 Mar 2009

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