Mount Stuart Auxiliary Hospital

Mount Stuart Auxiliary Hospital

Mount Stuart is an architecturally renowned red sandstone Victorian Gothic mansion with extensive gardens and is the seat of the Stuarts of Bute.

The first Mount Stuart was built in 1716 and four generations of the Bute family lived there until fire on 3 December 1877 destroyed the central block of the House, leaving the north and south wings intact.

The new building was the vision of the 3rd Marquess of Bute and the plans were designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson (1834-1921) in a Neo-Gothic style. Construction began in 1880 and continued until 1912. The new house was built on the site of the old one and the surviving wings were retained.

Much of the furniture was custom-designed and the finest craftsmen and artists were involved in decorating the sumptuous interiors. No expense was spared and it was the first home in the world to have a heated indoor swimming pool, and the first in Scotland to be purpose built with electric light, central heating, a telephone system and a passenger lift. It also contains many valuable paintings that have been collected by the family.

At the outbreak of the of First World War the 4th Marquis John Crichton Stuart (1881-1947) and his wife Marchioness Augusta Mary Monica (1880-1947) decided to offer Mount Stuart, to the Nation, fully equipped for use as a hospital.

The offer was first made to the War Office through the Headquarters of the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society in Glasgow, which considered at that time that it had sufficient hospital accommodation. The proposed accommodation was then offered to the Admiralty and before the end of the month replies had been received from the First Lord of the Admiralty and from the Medical Director-General gratefully accepting the offer, and promising that good use would be made of the accommodation as soon as the need for it should arise.

Preparations for the transformation of a private house into a modern hospital were at once put in hand, and the whole work was carried through under the direction of the Marchioness of Bute. Accommodation was provided for ten officers and one hundred men and began taking patients.

When the preparations had been completed, there was a delay in the reception of sick and wounded from the Fleet. The accommodation was temporarily utilised by wounded soldiers from the 4th Scottish General Hospital, Stobhill. Lady Bute was at that time attending Stobhill daily for instruction and training in nursing, and the authorities were invited to send men from the two wards in which Lady Bute was working, to Mount Stuart, for their further treatment and convalescence.

The first batch of wounded soldiers was admitted on 9 October 1914.


Mount Stuart Hospital staff

The Hospital throughout its operation was controlled and administered by the Marchioness of Bute.

Professor Sir William Macewen, F.R.S. was appointed to supervise the treatment of the patients, alongside his role of Consultant Surgeon in Scotland for His Majesty’s Navy.

Professor Finlay was responsible for the medical welfare of the patients and their discharge on completion of their treatment but was later superseded by Doctor MacGregor Robertson. Hubert Noel was in charge of the Surgical Ward. Mr William Boyd started out as an unqualified Assistant but in April 1915 obtained his degree and received a Commission as Temporary-Surgeon R.N. He became the Medical-Officer-in-Charge in residence. In October 1915 due to an increased workload Temporary Surgeon Brander R.N., was appointed as an additional resident Medical Officer. In May 1916 Surgeons Boyd and Brander left and were replaced by Temporary Surgeon Geoffrey Evans, Senior Medical Officer and Temporary Surgeon William MacMurray, R.N.

The Nursing Staff consisted throughout of a Matron with four certificated Sisters and eight Probationers.

During the day, a certificated Sister, with two Probationers under her, had charge of each Ward. During the night one Sister only was on duty for the whole Hospital, with a Probationer in each Ward.

The remaining Probationer was in reserve for duty on a special case, or to take place of another who might be on leave or on the sick list, or to assist in either the Wards when the work was heavy.

There were two Stewards whose duties included the maintain disciple among the patients; to arrange the work done in the Hospital by the convalescent patients; to give massage; care of the Baggage Store; dispensing; assisting with laboratory work; preparations for operations.

It was necessary to have two A.S.B.R. Drivers.  They worked part-time in the Hospital and part-time in the Garage.

A Secretary was employed to help with the clerical work including creating a card index for all the patients admitted. Details included were Official Number; Name; Age; Rating; Ship; Date of Admission; Name of Depot to which Patient belonged; Diagnosis of Complaint; Disposal and Date of Discharge.; Next of Kin.

Mr Alasdair MacGregor, Private Secretary to Lord Bute held the position of Paymaster to the Hospital and Mr Duncan kept the hospital accounts.

Mrs Stewart was the Housekeeper and she was responsible for the household, laundry, linen and catering. Under her direction worked two stillroom maids, five laundry maids and five housemaids.

Mrs Murphy was in charge of the Kitchen and was assisted by five kitchen maids.

Mary Petrie was Head Laundry maid but was subsequently replaced by Mary Myren. There were four other maids working in this department, which was responsible for the household and hospital laundry.

The House Steward had the assistance of two parlour maids, two boys (one for the house and one for the hospital), and two Boy Scouts, who worked regularly after school hours.

Andrew Lamont worked throughout in the Carpenter’s Shop and proved himself to be a skilled carpenter as a great deal of the hospital equipment was made by him and the joiners. They made screens, lockers, bed tables, cupboards, tables, benches and stretchers.

James Shields, the electrician and his assistant were responsible for keeping the electrical plant in good working order and they were in charge of supplying the house with hot water and for the central heating.

The private telephone exchange was attended by Mrs Shields. The telephone was in constant use as for instance all telegrams were telephoned to the Hospital.

Mount Stuart Royal Naval Hospital, East front view 1914-1919 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)
Mount Stuart Royal Naval Hospital, deputy matron & staff WW1 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)
Mount Stuart Royal Naval Hospital, the theatre 1914-1919 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)
Mount Stuart Royal Naval Hospital, ward. 1914-1919 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)