1993: Edinburgh Settlement Unveils Plans For ‘Care Village’

University Settlement bids to turn disused Elsie Inglis Hospital into Scotland’s first ‘Care Village’. In a bold and enterprising move, Edinburgh University Settlement have placed an 11th hour bid to turn the disused Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Abbeyhill into the site for Scotland’s first ‘urban care village’.
The plan relies on Lothian Health Board selling the 2.7 acre site to the charity for a figure believed to be close to £100,000. The site is commercially valued at around £650,000. The hospital was built in 1925 from money left over from the Scottish Women’s Hospitals teams and donations raised from around the world by public appeal. Care of the building and the endowment was handed over to the Health Board in 1948.

Main Building Elsie Inglis

At present, the Health Board are seeking permission to demolish the B-listed buildings and sell off the land to housing developers. This plan has met with opposition from planning officials who rejected Health Board proposals for a change for use of the site.
Under the Settlement’s proposal, the existing buildings would be converted to give accommodation and professional and vocational training facilities for community care workers. The ‘care village’ would also offer a wide range of therapy and teaching for the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and people with learning disabilities.

Says Settlement Director Nick Flavin, “This is a wholehearted bid in anticipation of a fulsome response from Lothian Health Board meeting us half way in, what is, an exciting and apt venture within the spirit of the new Community Care programme.

Settlement Unveils Plans For ‘Care Village’

“Its virtue lies in the fact that important listed buildings could have been purpose built for the core activities of the ‘care village’. The whole prospect of the initiative is enhanced by the addition of new facilities which include a swimming pool and sports complex which are integral to the programme and available for use by the local community.”
Many current EUS projects would relocate in the new ‘settlement’ and a flagship programme in childcare and preventative medicine is planned in honour of the work of Dr Elsie Inglis. The steering group which included representatives from the Medical Women’s Federation, and Edinburgh District Council’s Women’s Committee believe their proposals for the use of the site remain true to the memory and efforts of Elsie Inglis, sharing in her concerns for the social and educational needs of all sectors of the community.

Settlement's Plan for use

Born in 1864, Dr Inglis, a graduate of Edinburgh, was the founder and driving force behind the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, an organisation which funded and equipped complete hospitals, transport columns and canteens to attend to the Allied troops, A physician, surgeon and public health pioneer, she devoted much of her energy to the poor, in particular mothers and children, and for the advancement of women in medicine.
She died in 1917, and eight years later, the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital was opened in Edinburgh as a tribute to her achievements. Dr Jan Scott, president of the Scottish Eastern Association of the Medical Women’s Federation added, “We welcome wholeheartedly this interesting an innovative proposal in which the memorial buildings will survive in an educational caring situation. Awareness and training are especially relevant today in the movement away from care in institutions towards care in the community.”

Amy Maddox Inglis Niece
Portrait of Elsie Inglis, gifted to the Settlement archive in 1994 by Dr. Inglis’ neice, Amy Maddox. The Settlement’s proposals for an urban care village were ultimately rejected when the Health Board favoured a developer’s plans for a commercial nursing home on the site

The steering group have consulted closely with local residents and their representatives. “We have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support we have been given from all sectors of the public – both here and overseas,” explained Nick Flavin, “Edinburgh University Settlement is the ideal organisation to perpetuate the memory of Elsie Inglis as the original Settlement was founded in Edinburgh in 1905 by her contemporaries, who shared the same concerns for the social and educational needs of all sectors of the community.”

A spokesman for Lothian Health Board said, “We are currently considering all offers that have been submitted.”


This is part of the Edinburgh Settlements digital archive collaboration with Ragged University:

Edinburgh Settlements Digital Archive