Despair over demolition of Larbert landmark

The Gothic style former RSNH building was demolished last week
The Gothic style former RSNH building was demolished last week

One of Falkirk’s most unusual structures has been lost, despite being one of Historic Scotland’s listed buildings.

The B-listed Pilkington buildings in Larbert, part of the old Royal Scottish National Hospital (RSNH), were demolished recently.

The administration block and Skye building were all that remained of the institution and both were derelict.

Designed in 1862 by Scottish architect Frederick Thomas Pilkington, renowned for reviving the Victorian Gothic style, the hospital was funded by charitable donations until the NHS was set up in 1948.

Local historian Ian Scott said the loss of the administration block and Skye Building was sad but inevitable.

Ian said: “I don’t think this will surprise anyone with an interest in local history.

“The administration block in particular was an unusual and striking design but the council allowed an industrial estate to be built around it meaning it was nearly impossible to find a buyer willing to take it on.”

The buildings, which belonged to the NHS before being transferred to Falkirk Council, were on the edge of Central Park. They were badly damaged by fire and in recent years the administration block had to be pinned together.

Ian added: “It would certainly have been very expensive to make them useful and the proximity of the new industrial units meant they had lost much of their charm.

“It was a great pity because they were both amazing examples of Pilkington’s work and could have been a great asset if they had been properly looked after. We can ill afford to lose these treasures and despite living in a more enlightened age we are still destroying far too many.”

The hospital was built by the Society for Education of Imbecile Youth in Scotland and the site chosen because of its good rail links.

It was home to thousands of children and eventually adults too during it’s 140 year history. The hospital pioneered compassionate care and education and grew to include Larbert House and a colony. The RSNH closed in 1991 after a shift in attitudes to caring for those with special needs.

A Falkirk Council spokeswoman said demolition was the only option.

“We approached conservation bodies and ran marketing campaigns to try to attract a buyer. There was a lack of interest and the decision was taken to demolish the building,” she said.