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A branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal runs south from Maryhill through Ruchill to Port Dundas: Ruchill Church stands beside the canal.
Ruchill shown within Glasgow
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||Glasgow City Council|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Glasgow North|
|Scottish Parliament||Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn|
Ruchill (pronounced "ruck hill") is a district in the city of Glasgow. It lies within the Canal Ward of North Glasgow in the Ruchill Community Council area between the Maryhill and Possilpark areas of the city. It has traditionally been characterised by a high degree of deprivation and social problems. However from the late 1990s much of the poorer quality housing stock has been cleared to be replaced by newly built housing association and owner-occupied homes, improving much of the area's character.
One part of the area that is largely unchanged is High Ruchill, which unlike the rest of the area was never made up of tenemental properties, but semi-detached housing instead. This part of Ruchill also never suffered the same concentration of social problems as the rest of the area.
The area was formerly the site of Ruchill Hospital. In 1891 when the boundaries of Glasgow were extended to include Ruchill and Maryhill, the Glasgow Corporation purchased 53 acres (210,000 m2) of land there for a public park, golf course and 36 acres (150,000 m2) for the city's second fever hospital, to relieve the increasingly cramped conditions at Belvidere Hospital in Parkhead.
Ruchill Hospital was designed by the City Engineer, Alexander B. McDonald in a Neo Jacobean style, largely using red brick dressed with red sandstone ashlar. McDonald was responsible for a number of civic projects in the city from 1890 to 1914, the most notable being the People's Palace. Ruchill Hospital's design set the standard for local authority infectious diseases hospitals built after the 1897 Public Health Act, which had made the provision of such hospitals compulsory.
Work started on Ruchill Hospital on 16 April 1895, and the foundation stone was laid on 29 August 1895 by Lady Bell, the wife of Sir James Bell Bt, Lord Provost of Glasgow, and it was opened on 13 June 1900 by Princess Christian. Ruchill Hospital cost £330,000 and was designed to deal specifically with infectious diseases, such as smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, poliomyelitis and measles, which were widespread at the time.
It had an initial capacity of 440 beds, spread across sixteen isolated Nightingale ward pavilions, twelve of which were large, each containing beds for 30 patients, and four smaller ones accommodating 20 patients each. The only entrance was via a gatehouse on Bilsland Drive. Other buildings included; a Kitchen and Stores block, an Administration block, a clearing house[clarification needed], a Mortuary and Laboratory block, a Stable block, a sanitary Wash House and Disinfecting station, a Laundry and a three-storey Nurses home as well as ten staff villas and semi-detached cottages along Bilsland Drive. The centrepiece however was its 165 ft (50 m) water tower, required due to the height of the site. An additional 270 beds were provided after the construction of three ward pavilions in 1910 and a tuberculosis pavilion in 1913.
By the time of its absorption into the NHS in 1948 Ruchill Hospital had 1,000 beds. With the discovery of vaccinations and improved public health, cases of diseases like tuberculosis declined and the role of the hospital was diversified from the 1960s. Initially a "young chronic sick" unit was set up, mainly dealing with young people suffering from catastrophic brain damage. By 1965 an additional five wards had been converted to accommodate geriatric patients. An additional laundry building was added in 1969. The number of in-patients was 586 in 1975. The Hospital was the scene of the Jessie McTavish scandal in 1974.
Other developments on the site by 1973, included the establishment of small general medical and general surgical units, the Brownlee virology laboratory - where the first nude mice were discovered by Dr. Norman R. Grist in 1962 - and the University of Glasgow's Departments of Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. In addition to treating other Sexually transmitted diseases, from the 1980s Ruchill Hospital was also designated the primary Glasgow hospital dealing with cases of HIV, the cause of AIDS, after the emergence of this virus. In addition, the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, or SCIEH, the progenitor of today's Health Protection Scotland, was based in the "White House" at the hospital.
Ruchill Hospital was eventually closed in 1998, after the opening of the Brownlee Centre for Infectious and Communicable Diseases at Gartnavel General Hospital. The Ruchill Hospital site was sold by the NHS to Scottish Enterprise in July 1999 and 12 of the 16 original ward blocks and other outbuildings on the site were demolished. The remaining listed buildings currently remain derelict awaiting redevelopment, with emergency demolition of the Administration block and part of the Kitchen block occurring in 2007 due to structural deterioration.
There were reports that developers Gladedale and Bellway planned to build five hundred houses on the site of Ruchill Hospital in 2008, whilst restoring the remaining listed buildings, but the deal later fell through due to market contagion. Plans were subsequently submitted by Scottish Enterprise in April 2010 to demolish all the remaining listed buildings, with the exception of the water tower, despite no associated plans to regenerate the site. This was rejected by Glasgow City Council's planning committee in April 2011. At present the hospital's A-listed red-brick water tower remains a prominent local landmark, whilst the other remaining buildings are category B-listed.
The 1990s BBC medical drama Cardiac Arrest was filmed on location at Ruchill Hospital.
Ruchill Park opened in 1892, is prominent in the area, and is one of many public parks in the city. The poor quality of the soil and its high, exposed situation was not ideal for a public park, but under the direction of Parks Superintendent James Whitton the area was transformed. The park's best known feature is the panoramic view of Glasgow and its surroundings which can be obtained from the top of the hill. This is topped by an artificial mound (with a flagpole) constructed from 24,000 cartloads of spoil from the construction of the adjacent Ruchill Hospital. It is known locally as "Ben Whitton". During WW2 an ack ack gun was positioned in the park and was used to defend the area during the Clydebank Blitz.
Ruchill Golf Course
Ruchill Golf Course was popular for many years with golfers in the city but in 2000 the city council closed the facility and money was issued by council to establish redevelopment plans. The golf course has a former railway tunnel running under it, named the "miley" by locals as it was around a mile long. It was formerly part of the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway, linking Maryhill Central railway station to Possil railway station. There was also a tunnel linking Ruchill to the Lambhill area. The tunnel ran under the Forth & Clyde Canal which ran through the golf course. This tunnel is known locally as the Halloween Pen. It was not a railway tunnel but a tunnel used to herd sheep through in the past when the area was still relatively rural.
On 17 September 2009 Ruchill Golf Course was reopened by Colin Montgomerie. However, use of the club house and regular play did not commence until after the open evening on 1 April 2010. The course - now officially termed the "Ruchill Community Golf Facility" is now run by Culture and Sport Glasgow, part of Glasgow City Council, and is a nine hole course, designed with Colin Montgomery's input, apparently suited for developing and established players.
- Special Correspondence. PMC 2506600.