Forres Auxiliary Hospital

Forres Auxiliary Hospital

On 12 August 1914 following the declaration of war on 4 August, the Directors of the Forres Mechanics’ Institute quickly decided that the Institute should be handed over to the Red Cross Territorial Department for use as a hospital for the war wounded. The Forres Detachment of the Red Cross Territorial Brigade under Dr Adam was immediately mobilised and there was a good response from the ‘lady nurses’ and others, who readily enrolled their names for active service should they be required to treat the wounded.

On 11 November 1914 the first wounded soldiers arrived at Forres railway station, transferred from Aberdeen, and were greeted there by large crowds of well-wishers. Twenty of the soldiers were transported in private cars to the Auxiliary Hospital, the remainder going to Leanchoil. Well-wishers lined the whole of the short drive to the Institute where the soldiers found their new accommodation equipped with 20 beds, and 'all the necessary equipment for hospital purposes'. The front hall was adapted for use as a mess hall. Assisting Dr Adam at the Institute were Miss Philip (Acting Matron), Miss Rose, Newtonville, Miss Lawrence, St Catherine’s, and Nurse Allan. Many of the patients were said to have shown a clear improvement in their condition within days of their arrival.

By 3 July 1915 the hospital had established itself as a very useful convalescent facility and was praised for 'its rows of spotless beds and profusion of plants and flowers. It looks the acme of comfort and daintiness'. All was so well run and pleasant that the commentator 'could not help thinking that was the principal reason why convalescent soldiers are so sorry to leave Forres'.

Much of the work of the hospital relied on generous donations from the public including, clothing, cigarettes, blankets, weekly papers, fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, milk, cheese and furniture. Appeals were made through the Forres Gazette for items required, and all generous donors listed regularly there too. Local people also provided outings for those patients who were able to take advantage of this – with a trip to the Hydro for tea and games planned for October 1915.

On 10 November 1915, the first anniversary of the arrival of the first patients at the Institute, a concert was held for patients and local people alike. A review of the work of the first year’s work was also reported. One year on, there were now 40 beds available at the Institute and 312 patients had been treated at the Institute over the first 12 months. Auxiliary hospitals underwent regular inspections to ensure the maintenance of standards, and it was reported that  'every one of the inspecting officers who had visited (Forres) had expressed their entire satisfaction and declared the Forres Hospital to be one of the best VAD institutions in Scotland'.

Forres Mechanics Institute auxiliary hospital
Forres Mechanics Institute which served as a Red Cross auxiliary hospital throughout World War 1
Plaque on Forres Mechanics Institute
Plaque on Forres Mechanics Institute recognising its role as an auxiliary hospital