Lanark hospital was ahead of its time

At one time Lanark had quite a number of hospitals – the William Smellie maternity hospital, the Lockhart, the Lady Hozier convalescent hospital, Bellefield Sanatorium and St Mary’s.

In its day, St Mary’s was one of the best hospitals in Lanark - even having its own operating facilities. A far cry from today when there is no hospital in the town.

In its day, St Mary’s was one of the best hospitals in Lanark even having its own operating facilities at the beginning of the 20th century.

Now we don’t have a hospital in Lanark, let alone a place for minor procedures.

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It was the quality of care at St Mary’s that led to it being chosen as the main hospital for the Lanark Aviation week – August 3 to 10,1910.

Since it was fairly common for aviators to be seriously injured, hospital facilities were an essential. Lanark Aviation meeting was an exception in that it was the first world class aviation show in which nobody died.

The hospital only had to deal with a couple of broken limbs; even the crowds in attendance did not have any major misadventures.

St Mary’s started as a cottage hospital in 1860, funded by the Monteith family, but was soon found to be inadequate. A new hospital was constructed near St Mary’s Church, opening in 1874. It was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of the order of St Vincent de Paul, who not only ran the hospital but also the orphanage at Smyllum.

The hospital, which included operating facilities and an outpatient department, cost just under £2000. Further additions were made in 1903 and 1922 to accommodate a growing number of nurses and other staff.

During both World Wars St Mary’s was to play an important role looking after wounded soldiers.

After World War Two the hospital with its large wards became somewhat dated. Its role changed to caring for the elderly and infirm. In 1969 part of the building caught fire and a decision was taken to replace it.

It was later purchased by Strathclyde Regional Council as the base for Clydesdale District Council, then the local office for South Lanarkshire Council.

A new hospital was opened on Carstairs Road in 1972 but became redundant as EU legislation required more private rooms.

The Catholic Church did not have funds to provide the alterations so the new hospital was closed.