Papers and photographs of Dr Alexander Dale (1901-1964), Superintendent Mearnskirk Hospital, and Dr Elizabeth Dale (b. 1906)

Scope and Content

Papers of Dr Alexander Dale: Certificates of qualification 1916-1925, testimonials and appointments c.1907-1961, war service 1919-1943, general correspondence 1917-1957, articles and works 1926-1961, functions and events 1931-1975, retirement presentation and memorial service 1961-1965, items relating to Newton Mearns 1934-1958.

Photographs: Staff and personal photographs c.1907-1961, patients 1930-1960, war service 1940-1946, general photographs of Mearnskirk Hospital 1932-1965, Mearnskirk and surrounding areas 1914-1973, negatives and slides 1930-1973.

Papers of Dr Elizabeth Dale: Certificates of qualification 1929-1933, correspondence 1946-1990, items relating to work 1939-1963, newspaper articles relating to Mearnskirk and the Health Service 1975-1995.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Dale was born in Glasgow on 27th September 1901, the son of an assistant minister in the city. After time spent in Stirling and Northern Ireland, the family finally settled in New Stevenston near Motherwell where his father was Minister of Holytown United Free Church. Alexander Dale was educated at Bellshill Academy and the University of Glasgow, graduating M.B., Ch.B. in 1925. He was House Surgeon at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow from 1925-26 then Resident Medical Officer at the County Hospital, Motherwell. He returned to the Western Infirmary in 1927 as Extra Dispensary Surgeon and worked closely with Professor Archibald Young, Regius Professor of Surgery at Glasgow University. During his time at the Western he was also Hall Fellow in Surgery. Dr Dale left both positions in 1929 for a new post at Mearnskirk Hospital as Orthopaedic Surgeon and Asst. Superintendent to Dr J.A Wilson. In 1936 he took on the additional role as Assistant Lecturer in Clinical Tuberculosis at the University of Glasgow, which he continued until 1949. During the Second World War he acted as a general as well as an orthopaedic surgeon to civilian and service patients at Mearnskirk. Dr Dale became Superintendent of Mearnskirk on the death of Dr Wilson in 1946, retiring in 1961.

Alexander Dale's wife, Elizabeth Robb was born in Kirriemuir, Angus on 16th September 1906. She attended a local "Dame School" run by her father's sister and then the local secondary school. She gained her medical qualifications at the University of Glasgow, graduating M.B. Ch.B. in 1929. Her first post on qualification was at Redlands Hospital for Women, Glasgow. Following this she did locum work on the Isle of Arran. She stopped working on her marriage in 1932, returning to work later in the decade as a G.P. in Newton Mearns. She continued thus until Alexander Dale became Medical Superintendent at Mearnskirk in 1946 when she devoted her time to supporting her husband and various charitable organisations connected with the hospital. She did not practice medicine again until her husband died in 1964. She then became Medical Officer for Cytology for Ayrshire and Arran Health Board, gaining the Family Planning Association Certificate in 1965. Her father was a school friend of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. The Barrie connection may have had a bearing on the Peter Pan statue which was erected at Mearnskirk.

Mearnskirk Hospital opened in May 1930 primarily for children with surgical tuberculosis. To meet the needs of the Education Health Service, children with long-term orthopaedic conditions were later admitted and beds made available for any outbreak of infantile paralysis.

During the Second World War children were evacuated to the Garrison Hospital Millport and Mearnskirk assumed a new role as an Emergency Service Hospital. The hospital never subsequently regained its role as a hospital primarily for children and in 1946 the Surgical Thoracic Unit was opened. From 1955 onwards, Mearnskirk gradually saw the number of children treated drop to below the number of adults. Improvements in child health and advances in the practice of medicine brought about this turn-around, which also led to the hospital's change of status from Sanatorium to General Hospital in 1960.

By the late 1980's Mearnskirk had become a solely geriatric unit. When the Victoria Infirmary NHS Trust was created in 1992 Mearnskirk was placed within its jurisdiction.


Arranged chronologically within record series.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to some items may be restricted. Please contact the Archivist at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Acquisition Information

Gift from depositor's family.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Archivist. We will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but the responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the reader.

Appraisal Information

Appraised in accordance with GB 250's collection policy.

Custodial History

Held with depositor's family.


Not expected.

Related Material

Medical Instruments in College Museum collection. RCPSG 39 Young Family papers. Greater Glasgow Health Board Archive GB812 HB64, Records of Mearnskirk Hospital, 1914-1946.

Location of Originals

This material is original.


No known publications.