‘Very sad’ – a fresh view of Argyll and Bute hospital demolition

The future of the Argyll and Bute Hospital site is 'yet to be determined'

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Gillian Hogarth describes herself as an ‘incomer to the area’, having moved to Mid Argyll in the summer of 2019.

Since arriving, she has enjoyed regular walks in Blarbuie community woodland adjacent to the former Argyll and Bute Hospital buildings, some of which have been recently demolished.

The mental health hospital opened in 1863 as the Argyll District Asylum, with the original building designed by David Cousin.

Other buildings followed as the hospital expanded, and a new 30-bed extension was opened in 1971 but the hospital was closed in 2017 after a period of decline, with remaining patients being transferred to a ward within Mid Argyll Hospital.

Through a spokesperson, Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership last month told the Argyllshire Advertiser that a partial demolition of buildings within the site was complete.

The spokesperson added: ‘This in turn will be followed up with the installation of security fencing around the perimeter of the site.

‘The future of the site has yet to be determined.’

Observing through fresh eyes, Gillian says she has been increasingly sad to see these ‘magnificent buildings’, which had fallen into disrepair, being demolished.

She decided to keep a photographic record of the remaining structures ‘before they vanish’.

Gillian said: ‘I would love to know whether there has been any broader visual record taken by those in charge before demolition started, and also why they are being demolished when some of them still appear to be structurally sound, albeit in need of restoration.

‘It appears so easy to demolish lovely stone buildings to replace them with modern buildings with an anticipated lifespan of 30-40 years and it would be sad to think that this history vanishes without anything to mark the cultural and social significance it had.

‘Without putting nostalgia above the needs to provide services to the local community that meet their current needs, it is very sad to see the erosion of local history, especially if there is no clear plan for what replaces it and no community input.’

As the road and other infrastructure is already there, she believes the buildings could be retained and converted to social housing or similar, adding: ‘There must be people, especially elderly people, whom you would have thought would welcome living in a flat close to amenities and the hospital.’

What are your memories of Argyll and Bute Hospital or the ‘A&B’, ‘Up the Brae’ from years gone by, and what should the future be for the site and remaining buildings?
Email editor@argyllshireadvertiser.co.uk with your thoughts and memories.