In 1938, fears of war with Germany were growing. Plans to increase hospital provision in Scotland for treating potential civilian casualties began. As part of the Emergency Hospital Service, seven sites were selected. One was at Killearn, as it was near but physically separated from Glasgow. The site chosen was close to the railway line on flat land in the Blane Valley, opposite Laighparks farm. The hospital was completed in 1940. It consisted of 16 wards, with a total of 640 beds, four operating theatres and two X-ray units.
Its emergency function was called upon in the March 1941 Clydebank blitz. Many casualties were treated the hospital. In addition, within an hour of the raids starting, hospital staff had set up an emergency treatment post at Hardgate Farm, Duntocher . Fortunately, the bombing campaign against Scotland was short-lived. The hospital then provided treatment for the wounded from the frontline as well as enhanced medical care for the civilian population.
After the war, its capacity was reduced to 404 beds. It then specialized in neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery. Doctors split their duties between Killearn and the Western and Gartnavel for orthopaedics and the Southern for neurosurgery. The hospital also provided treatment and care for those with spinal tuberculosis. It was one of four orthopaedic nurse training hospitals in Scotland. It also played an important part in the training of doctors.
With advances in treatment and the essentially temporary buildings showing their age, the hospital was closed in 1972. Medical staff were relocated to other Glasgow hospitals. However, the administrative and maintenance jobs filled by those living nearby were lost. You can read more about the memories of hospital staff (opens pdf, 11MB) in the Killearn Courier.
The site then decayed. Many years of discussions over its future took place. Redevelopment was made more complex by the need to dispose of asbestos used in the buildings. Nearly 50 years after the hospital’s closure, permission was finally given for a new housing development. Clearance of the site began in late 2020.