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Gogarburn Hospital

Identifier: LHB36

Scope and Contents

Management 1922-1999; administration 1925-1998; finance 1923-1962; patients (bound records) c1914-1991; patients (unbound records) 1940s-1965

Where no title has been given for an item, these have been estimated using square brackets.


  • Creation: 1915-1999

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Public access to these records is governed by UK data protection legislation, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, and the latest version of the Scottish Government Records Management: Health and Social Care Code of Practice (Scotland). Whilst some records may be accessed freely by researchers, the aforementioned legislation and guidelines mean that records conveying sensitive information on named individuals may be closed to the public for a set time.

Where health records relate to named deceased adults, they will be open 75 years after the latest date referenced, on the next 1 January. Case records of individuals below 18 years of age or adults not proven to be deceased will be open 100 years after the latest date recorded, on the next 1 January. Further information on legislation and guidelines covering medical records can be found here:

LHSA encourages the use of these records for legitimate clinical, historical and genealogical research purposes, and records that are designated as closed can be consulted by legitimate researchers if certain conditions are met. Please contact the LHSA Archivist for more details regarding procedures on how you can apply for permission to view closed records. Telephone us on: 0131 650 3392 or email us at

Biographical / Historical

In 1913 the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act was passed by Parliament. It gave statutory recognition to the distinction between mental illness and mental handicap and required District Boards of Control to provide institutions for the mentally handicapped separate from the asylums, which were now to concentrate on the treatment of the mentally ill.

It was some fifteen years later that the Edinburgh District Board of Control complied with the Act and bought the mansion house and estate of Gogarburn. The house had previously belonged to Edinburgh Corporation, and had been used as a home for convalescent and delicate children under school age.

By December 1924, the Hospital was open with 24 women patients in residence, and, in 1925, the stable block was adapted to accommodate 15 men.

The District Board now commissioned Stewart Kaye, the architect of Bangour Village Asylum, to design a colony for Gogarburn to accommodate, ultimately, 1,000 mentally handicapped people. The colony was designed as a small village, each house or block to take 50 patients under the supervision of a housekeeper. In 1929 the foundation stone of the new administrative block was laid by the Duke of York (later George VI). In April 1930 this building and the two villas close to it were formally opened by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

During this early period the Hospital bought its first farm, Kellerstain, to provide work and food for the patients (1925). In 1950 it added the farm of Gogarbank and the policies of Hanley Lodge.

Following the passing of the Local Government (Scotland) Act in 1929 the District Board of Control was disbanded and the administration of Gogarburn was transferred to Edinburgh Corporation and was managed by the Public Health Committee and the City’s Medical Officer of Health.

Building went on steadily. In 1931 the school was opened and Scout and Guide troops were formed, In 1934 two more villas were opened. In 1936 two children’s blocks were added, followed in 1938 by two “temporary” blocks for male patients. By the end of 1938 there were places for 540 patients.

In 1937, following a circular from the General Board of control a conference was held in Edinburgh and it was decided that, although Gogarburn should remain an Edinburgh corporation Hospital, it would be used by all the South Eastern authorities “provided the charges made to them by the Corporation were not excessive”. Before this arrangement became effective World War II broke out.

In 1940 the Government decided to include Gogarburn in the emergency service scheme. Two new villas, not yet in use, were taken over, and further accommodation for emergency purposes was acquired by transferring 130 men to Larbert Institution and by putting more patients in each ward. The hospital dealt with a steady flow of surgical cases from the Army and Airforce during 1940 while the transformation to an emergency hospital was being carried out under the guidance of Professor Learmonth.

In 1942 over 1,700 service and civilian patients were treated, and Gogarburn acquired a reputation for its highly specialised peripheral nerve unit.

In 1943 the 130 men who had been sent to Larbert institution were returned to Gogarburn, and, to ease the ensuing crowding, 30 youths were sent to Lennox Castle Hospital.

In 1944 admissions to the hospital were restricted and the complete staff of a surgical unit was transferred to a hospital in the south of England in preparation for the Normandy landings.

By 1945 there was a long waiting list of patients for Gogarburn as it returned to its original function. There was also an acute shortage of nursing staff.

In 1948 Gogarburn was transferred, under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act, to the South Eastern Regional Hospital Board, under its own Board of Management. The Board continued to try to provide a regional service against the perennial problem of staff shortages. Two new wards and an occupational therapy hut were build.

In 1960 the Mental Health (Scotland) Act was passed allowing for patients to be admitted on an informal basis instead of being certified and formally admitted. Gogarburn therefore developed from a custodial hospital where patients were cared for and were given work to do to bring in money, into a treatment and training centre. The emphasis changed from work to occupational therapy. This led to the provision of hostels and sheltered homes where patients who had benefited from training could go and live, thus leading more normal lives.

In 1969 the Gogarburn Board of Management was disbanded and the Hospital’s management was transferred to the Board of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. In 1971 two units for adolescents, and the Industrial Therapy Unit were opened, followed in 1972 by the Children’s Unit.

In 1974 Gogarburn became part of the South Lothian District of Lothian Health Board, and in 1986 part of the Mental Health Unit. The hospital finally closed in May 1999.


6.9 shelf metres: bound volumes, papers


Chronological within record class

Other Finding Aids

Manual item-level descriptive list available

Custodial History

Records held within the National Health Service prior to transfer

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Ian Ramage, Gogarburn Hospital, February 1988


No further accessions are expected

Related Materials

Public Health Department of the City of Edinburgh (LHB16) | Public Health Department of the City of Edinburgh (LHB16) | Royal Edinburgh and Associated Hospitals Board of Management (LHB14) | Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Samaritan Society (GD2) | Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Samaritan Society (GD2) | South Lothian District, Lothian Health Board (LHB28)

Gogarburn Hospital
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Repository Details

Part of the Lothian Health Services Archive Repository

Centre for Research Collections
Edinburgh University Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44 (0)131 650 3392