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

A Category B Listed Building in Govan, Glasgow

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8632 / 55°51'47"N

Longitude: -4.3374 / 4°20'14"W

OS Eastings: 253815

OS Northings: 665802

OS Grid: NS538658

Mapcode National: GBR 01K.VY

Mapcode Global: WH3P1.BWTL

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

Listing Date: 12 October 1989

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 376915

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB33307

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Govan

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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Description

James Thomson, 1867-72. 2-storey, 23-bay symmetrical former poorhouse hospital block with iron-crested French-roofed pavilions and small square tower over shallow advanced 7-bay centrepiece (now part of Southern General Hospital, 2012). Snecked, stugged and squared ashlar with polished dressings, unmargined windows, horizontal bands between floors, small-paned sashes; centrepiece has alternate ground floor windows bipartite, segmental-arched at 1st floor, round-headed lights in pavilions; pilastered tripartite doorway, central, painted, now with modern doors; corniced stacks, slate roofs (finialed and leaded axial platform at S end of main roof). Rear elevation similarly treated, large rear wing also with iron-crested French roofs.

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 originally the hospital for the Govan Combination Poorhouse and is distinctively decorated with a French-pavilioned roof tower and end bays. This decoration echoes that used in the main former poorhouse building in the complex, now the administration block to the current hospital (see separate listing). People who required medical treatment would have been cared for in this former hospital building; the female patients were housed in the left wing, with male patients in the east. The building was designed in 1867 by James Thomson and built in 1872.

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 a poorhouse (see separate listing), an asylum building to the south and this building to the north. The site was greatly extended in 1902-5 when more wards were built and another 700 beds were established. 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.

References and Notes updated, 2012.

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