Montrose Asylum, Infirmary & Dispensary 1781

The Early Years

In 1781 the town of Montrose was unique among Scottish towns and cities in being the first to have an asylum for the insane. The Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary was completed after the institution of a subscription by local woman Mrs Susan Carnegie of Charleton, following concerns about "mad people being kept in a prison in the middle of the street".

It was described as "a house and garden in the links of Montrose". It occupied the site now bounded by Barrack Road, Ferry Road and Garrison Road, approximately where the Marine Hotel and the Fire Station now stand. A plaque to mark the site was been mounted on the wall of the Marine Hotel, which was originally the Physician Superintendent's house, but unfortunately this building was demolished a few years ago. The whereabouts of the plaque is currently unknown.

Medical Services

Medical services were provided on a monthly rotation, for no extra payment, by the local Doctors in addition to their other duties. Because this system led to inconsistency and lack of interest in some cases, Mrs. Carnegie saw fit, in 1799, to recommend to the Managers that consideration should be given to payment  for an attending Physician or Surgeon for a period of a year at a time, at a suggested salary of £20-£25. The doctors approved this proposal, but suggested £40. The bargain was struck at £30. Thereafter the Managers appointed the attendant Physician each year at £15.

 Montrose Asylum 1840
During these years, the main preoccupation of the managers was the considerable overcrowding in the Asylum, which among other things, made containing the not infrequent outbreaks of such diseases as cholera and smallpox very difficult. By 1853, the number of residents passed the 200 mark. As before, various additions and alterations were made to the buildings, but at one stage, even the Medical Superintendent's house on its completion was pressed into service as patient accommodation before the Superintendent could move in! Thus, inevitably, a committee was appointed in 1855 to look into the question of acquiring a site for a new Asylum, and finally decided on the lands of the farm of Sunnyside, outside the town.