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A special committee under Andrew Menzies of Balornock, was set up to examine the problem of housing "lunatics." The "Board of Lunacy" favoured the countryside as a place of refuge for these vulnerable people, and which also gave them employment and activity. The board also looked for a site near a railway, to facilitate the delivery of building materials and supplies.
Woodilee estate at Lenzie Junction on the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway was chosen as the site. The 167-acre estate was purchased in March and cost £58 an acre. Plans were drawn up by a Glasgow architect, James Salmon and were approved in the autumn. James Grant Jnr. and his sub-contractors were hired to build the asylum.
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Total area of asylum grounds extended to 459 acres and during this decade it was licensed to house six hundred patients. Many of these residents were employed on the farm, which provided food for the asylum.
A nurses' home was opened, and the practice of staff sleeping in the wards alongside the patients decreased over time.
Glasgow Corporation Public Health Department take over the institution, and a local government act means the asylum is now designated as a mental hospital.
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Recreation Hall, May 1935
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A new reception suite opened, and the heating system was upgraded. The hospital farms (Home, East Muckcroft and West Muckcroft) were phased out and closed. Agricultural labour had been used as a form of therapy till then.
The hospital was placed in the Northern District of the Greater Glasgow Health Board (Division of Psychiatry) along with Stoneyetts, Stobhill Psychiatric Unit and Lennox Castle. Campsie House opened as a psycho-geriatric unit.
There were several fires and vandalism after the evacuation, and on 2nd June, the latest of these fires severely damaged the main building. Woodilee towers, a famous local landmark, were demolished the same week, as they were deemed to be unsafe.
After a visit by Historic Scotland representatives in June and July, the clock tower; Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland administration building; Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland and the arches are placed on the register, and are now category B listed buildings. The register is maintained by the Scottish Civic Trust on behalf of Historic Scotland.
The Secretary of State for Scotland agreed to the closure of Woodilee Hospital.
The Trust's plans for the closure of Woodilee were at an advanced stage.
In April, a contract was entered into with a consortium of house builders which consisted of Cala Homes, Miller, Persimmon and Redrow, for the disposal of around 170 acres of land, in which a residential development of approximately 800 houses would be built.
The back gates of Woodilee Hospital grounds, 2001
The Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust requested planning permission in February, to demolish the east and west arches. In September, the application was refused , and the reasons given were that the loss of these buildings would result in a significant reduction in the heritage of the area, and that the retention of these buildings would enhance the character of the area when it is redeveloped.
In August of this year, the Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust also applied for planning permission for the demolition of the clock tower building. In October this application was also refused on the grounds of it being a listed building, and contrary to Historic Scotland's "Memorandum of Guidance for Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas".
Plans for a regeneration of the site have been developed by Kirkintilloch Initiative, which is a partnership between East Dunbartonshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow.
The latest proposals
for the development of the Woodilee estate are to be shown to the public before
the formal planning application goes forward. Two exhibitions have been organized by the Woodilee Consortium, made up of
builders Persimmon, Miller, Redrow and Cala Homes, to show their plans for the
site of the former hospital.
Two exhibitions have been organized by the Woodilee Consortium, made up of builders Persimmon, Miller, Redrow and Cala Homes, to show their plans for the site of the former hospital.
The proposals include over 900 homes and the conversion of the listed buildings.
Also planned are a village centre with community facilities including a local shop, pharmacy, doctor and dentist surgeries, and a day nursery. There will also be public meeting rooms.
There is to be a central green area at the existing clock tower building, with play and recreational facilities. Central to these plans is the Kirkintilloch link road, which gives local access to the former hospital site, and links with the Stepps bypass leading to the M80.
Outline planning permission has been granted for the proposals for the former hospital site.
In October this year, the consortium of house builders have applied for full planning permission to enable work to be started on the proposed 900 new homes.
These proposals include the former administration block, the old clock tower and part of one of the arches being incorporated into the development for residential use.
Full planning permission was granted on 12th March, for the residential development with associated community use, class 4 business units, road network (including the widening and re-alignment of Calfmuir Road), and co-ordinated open space, landscaping, woodlands, walkways and infrastructure.
Planning permission was also granted on 20th March for the conversion of the clock tower into residential use, and demolition of the east and west arches. Part of one of the arches is to be incorporated into the new clock tower conversion.
In February, the Woodilee Developer's Consortium submitted a planning application, to amend a condition on the outline planning permission (granted on 20th March 2007) to increase the permitted maximum number of houses to be completed prior to the completion of the Kirkintilloch Link Road from 200 to 470.
Work on the link road is still ongoing.
By April this year, the east and west arches have been demolished and material from them appears to have been set aside for inclusion in the conversion of the clock tower.
All local residents received a letter from the Woodilee Village Consortium in August this year, declaring that they are ready to start building the 900 homes as soon as the link road is completed and opened. The consortium now consists of Miller Homes, Redrow, Cala Homes and Charles Church (which is a sister company of Persimmon).
The first new houses are expected to be ready by Spring 2011 and the consortium intend to start selling them off plan in October this year.
The new Kirkintilloch Link Road opened in November 2010, and has been named Initiative Road. House building is now well in progress at the former hospital site.
S J McLaughlin email: firstname.lastname@example.org