History in Structure

Gatepiers, Former Royal Alexandra Infirmary, 22 Neilston Road, Paisley

A Category B Listed Building in Paisley, Renfrewshire

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Latitude: 55.8371 / 55°50'13"N

Longitude: -4.4243 / 4°25'27"W

OS Eastings: 248274

OS Northings: 663092

OS Grid: NS482630

Mapcode National: GBR 3K.59B9

Mapcode Global: WH3P6.0KG1

Plus Code: 9C7QRHPG+V7

Entry Name: Gatepiers, Former Royal Alexandra Infirmary, 22 Neilston Road, Paisley

Listing Name: The Nursery Times, (former dispensary and lodge of Royal Alexandra Infirmary), including gatepiers and excluding later gabled section to northwest, 22 Neilston Road, Paisley

Listing Date: 2 June 2017

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406678

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52439

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200406678

Location: Paisley

County: Renfrewshire

Town: Paisley

Electoral Ward: Paisley East and Central

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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A single-storey and attic, Scottish Renaissance, asymmetric former lodge and dispensary of the Royal Alexandra Infirmary dating from 1897-1900 by Thomas Graham Abercrombie. It is currently a children's nursery (2017). The building is elaborately detailed and of snecked, stugged, red sandstone with polished margins. There are some transomed and mullioned windows. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: the later gabled section to the northwest.

The former lodge lies to the south. It is L-plan with a gabled 2-storey south end, with a canted bay window at ground level and corbelled corners at first floor level. A 2-storey round tower with a bellcast roof and a moulded, key-stoned door-piece is situated in a re-entrant angle to the southwest. On the west elevation there is a single storey section with a steep, piended roof.

The former, gabled and finialled dispensary is to the north. The main elevation is to the east and has a near central, gabled, recessed 3-bay section with pedimented windows rising through a balustraded eaves parapet. This section has gable finials and an ornate octagonal roof ventilator with decorative round arches and columns and louvred vents. To the right is a symmetrical 3-bay entrance section with a central round-arched entrance with a keystone and a balustrade above and with flanking gabled bays with bipartite windows. The bays are divided by channelled ashlar pilasters. To the left is a gabled bay with a round-arched entrance with a moulded doorpiece and flanking sidelights.

The rear elevation to the west has swept eaves.

The windows are varied. There are some timber casement windows with small pane windows above. The casements have a 6-pane glazing pattern with a 9-pane glazing pattern in the windows above. Other windows are timber sash and case windows with a 4-pane glazing pattern. To the east are bipartite windows with plate glass and above these are large windows with small, multi-pane glazing.

The roofs have grey slate. There are corniced chimney stacks to the south.

There are a pair of red sandstone, channelled ashlar, square-plan gatepiers to the south with triglyph friezes and surmounted by large, four-armed urns.

Statement of Interest

The Nursery Times is the elaborately decorated former lodge and dispensary of the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley. It dates to 1897-1900 and is by the prolific and renowned local architect, Thomas Graham Abercrombie. The building and its associated gatepiers are prominently sited on a main road within a mainly residential area of Paisley. The building has a distinctive circular tower as well as a significant amount of architectural decoration. As part of the main former general hospital in Paisley, it is an important building in helping our understanding of the medical history of the town.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: the later gabled section to the northwest.

Age and Rarity

The former Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley opened in 1900 as a general hospital with an infectious diseases ward. It was designed by the Paisley architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie and it replaced an older building which was in the centre of the city. The site consisted of four buildings - the main infirmary, a nurses' home and a dispensary and lodge.

The hospital closed in 1986 when the new, current, Royal Alexandra Hospital was built on a different site to the west. The former dispensary and lodge was converted into a children's nursery called The Nursery Times. The easternmost wing and the round ward of the main hospital building were converted into residential accommodation and renamed Alexandra Gate. The remainder of the main building is currently unused (2017). The former hospital is currently listed at category B (LB39057). The former nurses' home was converted into flats in 2005-6 and renamed the Peter Coats Building. It is separately listed at category B (LB52440).

The history of the Royal Alexandra Infirmary goes back to 1786 when a general dispensary for the sick poor was opened in the centre of Paisley, offering outpatient medical treatment and advice. By 1805, this had become a House of Recovery for patients with infectious diseases in an attempt to stop the spread of infection in the expanding industrial town. By 1850 the building had been enlarged and was a general hospital, called Paisley Infirmary and Dispensary. It had both medical and surgical wards. The hospital can be seen as a T-plan building in the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1858, with the dispensary, wards and matron's rooms clearly marked.

In 1886, with patient numbers increasing, the hospital committee decided to build a new, larger, building on a greener site, away from the city centre. This was to be a general infirmary that included infectious diseases accommodation. Subscriptions for the hospital raised £49000 and Peter Coats, a local industrialist and philanthropist, persuaded the committee to accept a plan for a 142 bed hospital.

The building was given to the local architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie to design and work began on the new hospital in 1894. The memorial stone was laid in 1897. The new hospital opened in 1900 and was called the Royal Alexandra Infirmary. It had three pavilions and an infectious diseases block. A chapel with seating for 100 was dedicated in 1901.

The modern general hospital had its origins in the 18th century. The first general hospital founded in Scotland was the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary which opened in 1729. Hospitals were thereafter founded in most large Scottish cities and towns and often built with symmetrical plans and to classical proportions. By the middle of the 19th century advances in medical knowledge and technology led to a clear shift to the pavilion-plan hospital with wards placed in block pavilions to help fight the spread of disease through cross-ventilated buildings. Hospital planning was not significantly changed again until further medical advances in bacterial control meant that ventilation was no longer a priority and other plan forms emerged. While technology played an important part in the design of hospitals, patronage and private endowment also led in some cases to elaborate architectural treatments which have provided us with some of our most important institutional buildings.

As hospitals grew in size a number of buildings associated with the hospital were situated on the same site. The majority had lodges at their entrances, which were often distinctive buildings in the street. Dispensaries served as outpatient departments and could allow patients to be treated without having to attend the hospital. Dispensaries to treat the poor were established in Scotland in 1776 in Edinburgh. These were sometimes situated separately from a hospital, but others were included at hospital sites. 63 Church Street, Glasgow, was built for the Western Infirmary in 1913 is listed at category B (LB32857). Standing separately is the former dispensary in Kelso, at 106 Roxburgh Street, which dates from 1789 and is listed at category B (LB35801).

The former dispensary and lodge of the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary is not early in date for its building type as dispensaries had been in existence since the 18th century. Lodges were standard buildings at the entrances to the large hospital complexes at the end of the 19th century. The building, does, however, have a considerable amount of elaborate decorative detailing for this type of building.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior has not been seen.

Plan form

The L-plan is a typical form for a hospital lodge. The plan form of the dispensary is also typical, although it may be more unusual for both the lodge and dispensary to be located close together.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Red sandstone was a typical building material for Paisley buildings at this time and can be seen in other types of building across the city, including churches and tenement buildings.

The building has good architectural detailing, particularly around the windows and entrances and the balustrades are an ornamental detail which adds to the grandeur of the building. The pediments to the large windows are a distinctive feature as is the very large and eye-catching octagonal vent. The different roof shapes add to the richly detailed exterior. The round tower to the lodge is a significant addition to the lodge.

The stonework of the gatepiers is richly detailed and the large and unusually shaped urns are distinctive. Together with the lodge they make a grand entrance to the building.

Thomas Graham Abercrombie (1862-1926) was a prolific architect, whose work is found mainly in his home town of Paisley and the surrounding area. He designed around 130 buildings in Paisley, ranging from villas, tenements, shops, churches and large public buildings. He also designed Dykebar Hospital, a former asylum, in 1909-14 (LB38961). He used a variety of styles for his buildings, including Scots Baronial and Art Nouveau. Abercrombie was also a volunteer, first in the 2nd Renfrewshire Rifles and then in in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.


The building and the gatepiers are situated on a main road in a largely residential area of Paisley. The urns on the gatepiers and the round tower on the lodge and the large octagonal vent make it a significant building in the area.

The Nursery Times building is one of three buildings which constituted the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary. The building are all situated close to each other. The survival of this group is important as it helps our understanding of the buildings required for the provision of medical care in Paisley at the end of the 19th century. The building still forms the entrance to the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary and the former nurses' home, which are both listed separately.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017. The Nursery Times was previously listed as part of the Royal Alexandra Infirmary (LB39057) as 'Garthdee 'Neilston Road, Royal Alexandra Infirmary'.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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