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1345 Govan Road, Southern General Hospital, Administration Block (Former Govan Poorhouse)

A Category B Listed Building in Govan, Glasgow

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8632 / 55°51'47"N

Longitude: -4.3376 / 4°20'15"W

OS Eastings: 253803

OS Northings: 665806

OS Grid: NS538658

Mapcode National: GBR 01K.TY

Mapcode Global: WH3P1.BWQK

Entry Name: 1345 Govan Road, Southern General Hospital, Administration Block (Former Govan Poorhouse)

Listing Date: 12 October 1989

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 376914

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB33306

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Govan

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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Description

James Thomson, 1867-72. Long, symmetrical, 35-bay, 3-storey, roughly T-plan, former poorhouse with distinctive French pavilion-roofed bays and central clock tower (now part of Southern General Hospital, 2012). Coursed, snecked and stugged sandstone with ashlar dressings. Band courses, cill course, dentilled cornice. Raised cills. Variety of later, 20th century, extensions and infill buildings.

PRINCIPAL ELEVATION TO E: central, well-advanced, single-storey parapetted entrance bay with Doric portico and canted 3-light windows to corners. Distinctive square-plan 6-stage central clock tower immediately to rear of elevation with louvred bipartite windows to 4th stage and curved gables above with clocks to all faces. Pyramidal-roofed top stage with iron pinnacle. Advanced pavilion bays regularly spaced to elevation, each with iron crested French roofs.

Predominantly plate-glass and 4-over 4-pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slates, corniced stacks.

Statement of Interest

This building forms part of the Southern General Hospital, one of the finest surviving examples of the large scale poorhouses built in the latter part of the 19th century. This building was the central poorhouse and is a prominent and extensive building with a distinctive and elaborate French clock tower and French pavilion roofs. These decorative details add significantly to the building s interest, particularly as it was built as a functional building. It was designed with the east elevation forming the entrance elevation to the poorhouse complex. The building provided accommodation for men, women, boys and girls and each group was strictly segregated. There was a dining hall and chapel in the centre. Once situated in every major town and city in Scotland, these large scale poorhouses have gradually been demolished. This building is therefore one of the few large scale poorhouse to survive. The Southern General Hospital was originally the Govan Combination Poorhouse and was built to replace previous poorhouse premises nearby. The premises combined the poorhouse, an asylum building to the south and a hospital building to the north (see separate listing). The site was greatly extended in 1902-5 when more wards were built and another 700 beds were established. During the First World War, the hospital was requisitioned for use as Merryflats War Hospital. The complex was renamed the Southern General Hospital in 1923 and the last of the poorhouse beds disappeared in 1936. The Public Health Department took over the hospital in 1936. During the Second World War, the wards were upgraded. Although some parishes in Scotland had poorhouses before 1845, it was after the Poor Law (Scotland) Act of that year that most were built. This Act set up a Central Supervision Board to administer poor relief throughout the country, in an attempt to standardise the care provided. The poor were not required to be housed in poorhouses, as in England, but could be given relief in cash or kind. Many poorhouses were built, however, and in the cities, parishes often combined together to build one. These were called Combination Poorhouses. The Govan Combination Poorhouses served the parishes of both Govan and Gorbals. The poorhouses were intended for the sick and destitute poor, not the able-bodied; the able-bodied poor did not receive relief. A requirement of the 1845 Act was that inmates of these poorhouses should be segregated into male and female and this segregation continued into differentiating between the deserving and non-deserving poor. This naturally affected the plan of the buildings, and most, such as here, are symmetrical in plan. As medical care also had to be provided, and also care given to those suffering from mental illness, a number of the larger poorhouse, such as this one, had separate areas for a poorhouse, an asylum and an infirmary. The Govan poorhouse has a similar plan form to the Craiglockhart poorhouse in Edinburgh, 1867 (now converted to flats) and Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, 1907-8 (see separate listings). The great majority of the larger poorhouses have been demolished in the 20th century. James Thomson (1835-1905) was a Glasgow based architect with one of the largest practices in Scotland. The practice focussed on commercial buildings, including large tenements with shops for rent to the ground and including schools and banks. List description updated, 2012.

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