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Former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital including terrace, and excluding exterior metal stairs, former classroom block, sports hall and nursery building, Craigton Road, Cults, Aberdeen

A Category C Listed Building in Peterculter, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1258 / 57°7'32"N

Longitude: -2.1815 / 2°10'53"W

OS Eastings: 389108

OS Northings: 803884

OS Grid: NJ891038

Mapcode National: GBR XL.05B4

Mapcode Global: WH9QW.G5D4

Entry Name: Former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital including terrace, and excluding exterior metal stairs, former classroom block, sports hall and nursery building, Craigton Road, Cults, Aberdeen

Listing Date: 13 January 2020

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407305

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52535

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Peterculter

County: Aberdeen

Parish: Peterculter

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

Dating from 1895-97, the former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital was designed by William and John Smith and Kelly. It is a two-storey and attic, nine-bay, roughly T-plan building constructed in squared and snecked pink granite. The gables have Arts and Crafts style half-timbering and moulded bargeboards. The hospital is on an elevated rubble terrace bounded by later railings, within formerly landscaped grounds and is to the northwest of the suburb of Cults on the edge of Aberdeen.

The principal (south) elevation is largely symmetrical. The advanced end bays each have a tripartite ground floor window and a bipartite first floor window. There are moulded and straight hoodmoulds above the ground floor windows. There is a timber veranda (with later glazing) running the full width of the ground floor between the projecting end bays. There are two central gablets, one breaking the roof eaves and one on the roof ridge.

The side elevation of the rear section of the building has two rectangular dormer windows and a projecting bay at the ground floor. Adjoining the rear gable is a single-storey L-plan outshot with piended roof and a lantern.

The windows are a mixture of glazing patterns, predominantly 15-pane in timber sash and case frames. The roofs are pitched, gabled and slated. Below the overhanging eaves are painted timber rafter ends. There are several tall chimneystacks of varying sizes and with clay pots. The chimneystacks are predominantly along the ridge. The building has later external metal staircases to the side and rear elevations which are excluded from the listing.

The interior, seen in 2019, retains some late-19th century timber and plasterwork fixtures. These include wainscoting, dado rails, deep skirting and moulded cornicing. There is a central staircase with moulded timber balusters and a timber handrail. The glazed inner entrance door has a fanlight and there are panelled timber and glazed doors leading out to the veranda. There are some tiled fireplaces in the ground floor rooms. The attic is a self-contained warden's flat.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: exterior metal stairs, former classroom block, sports hall and nursery building.

Historical development

The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital was built between 1895-97 for recovering post-operative patients of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. It replaced the Lochhead convalescent home (built in 1874), which was in the centre of Aberdeen.

The first patients were admitted in October 1897 and the building had provision for 29 patients and live-in nursing staff (3rd Statistical Account, p.128). The building was financed by the proceeds from the sale of the earlier convalescent home and a £5000 gift from the trustees of the late Mr John Gray Chalmers of Banchory (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 1895).

The building is first shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1899, published 1901) as largely T-plan with advanced ends bays. The current footprint remains largely as that shown on this map. A photograph from 1897 (SCRAN) shows the building as having an open veranda with a glazed roof leading onto the south-facing terrace. This still survives largely and has been enclosed.

In 1948 the convalescent hospital became part of the National Health Service and was managed by the Aberdeen General Hospitals Board of Management. In 1964 the convalescent hospital closed, and the building was sold in 1969.

From 1972 until 1996, the site became the campus of the Aberdeen American School, and after 1996 the Aberdeen Waldorf School. During this period additional teaching buildings were built, including a single-storey classroom block to the southwest of the main building, and a sports hall and a nursery to the north. These buildings are excluded from the listing (see above).

The site closed as a school in 2014 and has been unoccupied since that time.

Statement of Interest

The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: exterior metal stairs, former classroom block, sports hall and nursery building.

Architectural interest:

Design

Convalescence hospitals were designed to maximise fresh air, sunlight, and have relaxing surroundings (Building up Our Health, p.74). The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital is south-facing and has design features such as a veranda, tall windows and is on an elevated terrace.

It has distinctive Arts and Crafts 'chalet style' features such as overhanging eaves and decorative half-timbering. The use of the Arts and Crafts style makes the building appear more like a country house or hotel, a building type which was conducive to rest and convalescence. The style was also particularly favoured on Deeside used at other nearby late-19th century convalescent hospitals and sanitoria, including Nordrach-on-Dee sanitorium (later Glen O'Dee convalescent hospital, which is now gone). Furthermore, the Continental alpine 'chalet' style, combined with the use of granite is locally distinctive to the area as seen in a number of country houses and shooting lodges of the same period.

A photograph from 1897 (SCRAN) shows the veranda along the south elevation was originally open with a glazed roof. The veranda has now been enclosed by later glazing but its earlier fabric is retained and, with exception of this change, the exterior of the building has not been significantly altered and largely retains its late 19th century design.

The footprint of this building is largely unaltered from that shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1899, published 1901). The T-plan is a typical plan form for convalescent homes and has been used on a larger scale at the Corstorphine Convalescent Hospital of 1866 in Edinburgh (listed at C, LB52367) and the Schaw Convalescent Hospital of 1895 in Glasgow (listed at B, LB22134).

The layout of earlier convalescent hospitals, such as the Corstorphine Hospital, was characterised by large, open Nightingale-style wards. The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital is a typical example of the later phase of this building type combining home comforts with convalescent care, particularly with the use of small day rooms with lower ceilings (Cronin, p.1). The interior of the building has been remodelled for use as a school, and this has included some later subdivision to the rear parts of the building. Some typical late-19th century timber and plasterwork fixtures survive and the building's plan form continues to show its former hospital use.

The architectural firm, William and John Smith and Kelly of Aberdeen, designed the new convalescent hospital while they were working on the ward block extension of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary at Woolmanhill. This firm worked on a variety of projects including private houses, asylums, schools and hospitals, predominantly in and around Aberdeen and Angus. This building is a later example of their hospital work (Dictionary of Scottish Architects).

Setting

The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital is a distinctive building in the landscape because of it scale and Arts and Crafts style detailing. Its rural setting is typical of later 19th century convalescent homes. Early convalescent hospitals were built immediately adjacent to hospitals, but as relaxing surroundings aided recovery the later 19th century examples are in more rural locations and resemble a country house.

The former hospital remains on an elevated site within its own formerly landscaped and wooded grounds and overlooking the suburb of Cults to the south. The immediate setting of the building has been altered by the addition of later school related buildings, however these buildings have not adversely affected the interest of the setting of the former hospital.

Aerial images show the wider setting has changed with the general expansion of Cults, particularly by the addition of 21st century housing at Friarsfield to the south of the former convalescent hospital which has engulfed the former Craigton Farm. This housing is visible but has not had a significant impact on the immediate setting of the building.

Historic interest:

Age and rarity

The older a building is, and the fewer of its type that survive, the more likely it is to be of special interest. Convalescent hospitals are now a relatively rare building type in Scotland. There were around 60 convalescent homes established in Scotland between 1860 and 1939, of which 22 were linked to hospitals (Cronin, p.278). Corstorphine Convalescent Home was the first to be opened in 1866 and was directly linked to an infirmary. Others quickly followed, including Paisley in 1868, Aberdeen in 1873-74 and Dundee in 1876.

In 1946 a survey of Scottish hospitals showed there were four convalescent hospitals in the northeast region: Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital, Newhills Home (1874), Linn Moor (children) (1905) and Thorngrove Babies Home (1935) (Cronin, pp.136-37). There were other, smaller convalescent homes on Deeside, such as Eidda Home (1880) and Dyke Neuk (1886), catering specifically for children. These were usually cottages converted for convalescent use, such as Eidda Home in Peterculter, and are not comparable in scale and function to the Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital.

The Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital is a later example of its building type. By the late 19th century, hospital building design was increasingly specialised and this example was designed specifically for adult convalescence. It is now a rare surviving example of its building type which is largely unaltered.

Social historical interest

Convalescent hospitals have social historical interest because they reflect the changing attitudes to healthcare and patient provision. Convalescent homes were first built in the mid-19th century as the pressure on hospital beds steadily rose and were a common aspect of health care for about a century. They were designed to provide patients with the means of recovering from illness in a period of two to three weeks.

The former Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital dates from 1895-97 and shows how the design, plan form and setting of a building played an important role in healthcare. The building continues to reflect its former functional use, to create an open, well-ventilated and well-lit place to aid post-operative recovery.

Other Information

The first convalescent hospital associated with Aberdeen Royal Infirmary opened in 1873-74 at Lochhead House (now demolished), located on a part of what is now Westburn Park. By the early 1890s it was decided that a new hospital outside of Aberdeen should be built and in 1895 the site of the new convalescent hospital in Cults was chosen.

In 1962 convalescent services were moved from Aberdeen Convalescent Hospital in Cults to Glen O'Dee Hospital in Banchory (former tuberculosis sanitorium).

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