Welcome to the History Channel. We have extensive pages showing the history of Healthcare, Shipbuilding, Education, Singer's Sewing Machine Factory, Housing and the Clydebank Blitz.

To view some fantastic Scottish history captured on film from the BBC click here : BBC History (Broadband Only)

Healthcare in the new town
Good quality health care in mass populations was a huge problem for many, many years. This problem was tackled by the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act (Scotland) of 1845, empowering Parochial Boards to appoint medical officers to treat the sick and poor of a parish or town.

Dr. Adam Gilmour was appointed as the very first Parochial Medical Officer (PMO for short) of Clydebank in 1866. His son Dr. John Gilmour followed in his fathers footsteps in 1895, and was later joined by his sister.

As the town expanded Dr. James Stevenson setup his practice in Clydebank around 1878 - shortly after he had qualified. He was at one point the only local doctor to possess a Diploma in Public Health, and hence became the official medical officer to the Burgh in 1897.

There were TWO main aims behind the Poor Law : It was intended to provide basic medical relief for sick paupers at minimum cost, and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Many areas of Clydebank and the surrounding parishes did not have proper sanitation, and outbreaks of of scarlet fever, smallpox and cholera were recorded. Spurred on by possible fresh outbreaks of these fevers, in 1893 the burgh sanitary committee drew up plans for the building of a 16-bed infectious diseases (ID) hospital at Blawarthill (just south of Knightswood).

BlawartHill Hospital was opened in 1897, and was a joint venture between Clydebank Burgh and the Upper District of Renfrew council. A 30-bed hospital, BlawartHill developed and enviable reputation for the quality of training given to its nurses, with three being appointed Matrons of English fever hospitals by 1902.

New wards were opened in 1906, providing a further 34 beds. Six weeks later Clydebank boundaries were extended to incorporate Kilbowie, Radnor Park and Dalmuir - increasing the population from about 26,000 to around 36,000 - quite literally overnight.

After the Great War

The National Insurance Act of 1911 introduced a scheme of contribution to insure the whole population against sickness and ill-health. Provost John Taylor was appointed Chairman of the Clydebank National Health Insurance Committee in 1912.

While the National Insurance Act was a great step forward from the Poor Law, the problems faced by doctors and hospitals were still the same - infectious diseases in particular was a still major problem (even with the BlawartHill hospital opening in 1906).

Local hospitals were not capable of effectively treating tuberculosis, which was prevalent across the region. Attempts were made to treat patients, however more often than not they were sent to hospitals further afield, such as Peebles, Shotts, Ochil Hills, and even Switzerland at one point in the 1940's!

As medical technology improved during the first half of the 20th century, diseases became easier to get under control, with scarlet fever virtually wiped out. That's not to say that epidemics could be prevented, far from it - Clydebank had over 40 deaths in one single week during the Influenza epidemic in 1918.

Like many aspects of life in Clydebank, healthcare services were devastated during the Blitz. To try and ensure continued service, first aid posts were setup around the town (some of you may have had relatives who manned these posts, or remember the folk who worked in them). While the doctors took it in turns to ensure that almost total 24 hour cover was provided to those who needed it, many of their own houses and practices were destroyed in the bombing, as well as some essential chemists shops.