Falkirk hospital rescue battle begins

Falkirk Community Hospital
Falkirk Community Hospital
Share this article

Falkirk faces a fight to save the main building of the infirmary it gives its name to from the threat of demolition.

The future of the headquarters of Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary is now under serious threat after Historic Scotland confirmed yesterday it does not intend to give it ‘Listed’ status to protect it from the bulldozers.

The iconic 79-year-old block paid for thanks to a district-wide fundraiser is readily identified as a landmark in the town by Falkirk Bairns.

But following the opening of the £300 million Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert is now surplus to the requirements of its owners NHS Forth Valley and in danger of being flattened to make way for new housing developments on the site.

The news is certain to be met with huge disappointment by Falkirk Local History Society and the town’s First Citizen Provost Pat Reid who both wrote to the Scottish Government agency asking it to reconsider.

But a statement from the head of Historic Scotland’s head of listing, Elizabeth McCrone, on Wednesday confirmed the bad news. She said: “I appreciate the deep feeling that the society and others have for the main building on the Royal Infirmary site and have written to Falkirk Council and NHS Forth Valley to relay the huge community interest in retaining the building.

“Unfortunately it does not meet the strict criteria to be listed as it is not of sufficient architectural significance when compared to hospital buildings from the same period throughout Scotland.”

Last week NHS Forth Valley confirmed an interest in retaining parts of the original features including the clock and original ‘Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary’ inscription as part of any future developments. While that might save the front of the two storey building for generations to come it is unlikely to win the support of the community.

John Reid, chairman of the society, said: “This is a timely reminder that if we want to protect important parts of our heritage we cannot always rely on the officers of the far-off Historic Scotland to do it for us. They are obviously ignorant of the social history of our area or they would not have dismissed so lightly the application from Falkirk Council for its protection.

“Every brick and stick was paid for by the voluntary efforts of the people of every rank and at its opening in 1932 it was described as a ‘triumph of co-operation’.

“I fear we may need another campaign of co-operation to persuade Historic Scotland and NHS Forth Valley to change their minds and save the front building and stone piers and garden and remain as a potent symbol of what can be achieved when people work for the common good.”