Records of Birkwood Hospital, Lesmahagow, Scotland

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • Registers, 1923-1986;
  • Reports, 1923-1974;
  • Case books, 1923-1957.

Administrative / Biographical History

Birkwood Hospital was run by Lanarkshire Council for the care of children with severe learning disabilities. Opened in 1923, it provided care for both boys and girls and was one of the few psychiatric hospitals which dealt exclusively with children. Birkwood House, situated in Lesmahagow (Lanarkshire) was originally a stately home built in 1887 for the McKirdy family. Birkwood was purchased by Lanarkshire Council in 1920 and was first occupied as a certified Institution for Mental Defectives on 3rd July 1923. Birkwood House was one of several institutions which opened in accordance with the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1913. The Act was passed ‘to make better and further provision for the care of Mentally Defective Persons and to amend the Law relating to Lunacy in Scotland.’ Birkwood House is a Grade B listed building and had extensions erected in 1921, 1946 and 1958. The new wing added in 1958 cost £94,000 and accommodated up to 80 more patients. The 1966 Western Regional Hospital Board, Hospital Survey and Draft Proposals for Mental Health Services, stated that Birkwood had 316 beds but suggested that could be extended to a further 376 beds to accommodate for overcrowding in Kirklands Hospital. However, by 1976, The Evening Times reported that Birkwood would have to cut beds due to a degree of overcrowding. Gradually, community based care became more acceptable concerning psychiatric patients and The Evening Times reported in 1981 that Birkwood was trialling an independent unit which would allow improving patients to look after themselves with minimum supervision. The Community Care Act 1990 gave rise to a more community-based focus for long-term care and consequently many of the long-term psychiatric hospitals closed. The hospital began to relocate patients in 2002 and officially closed in 2005.

Conditions Governing Access

There is a 75 year closure period on medical records of adults, and a 100 year closure period on medical records of minors.

If you seek patient records within these periods, or information regarding your own treatment, you should contact the Archivist.

Appraisal Information

Appraised according to standard GB 0812 procedure.

Accruals

No further accruals expected.

Related Material

GB 812 HB 28: Records of Western Regional Hospital Board, Glasgow