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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish
Barony Parochial Asylum, Woodilee, Lenzie


About the year 1870 the accommodation for lunatics at the Barony Parochial Poorhouse at Barnhill was beginning to be found quite inadequate for the increasing wants of the parish—a number of patients being boarded outside at considerable expense—and the estate of Woodilee, of 167 acres, was purchased at the end of 1871, with a view to meet the then present and future requirements, and provide a farm asylum for the largest and most populous parish in Scotland.

Plans were prepared by Messrs. James Salmon & Son, architects, Glasgow, under the superintendence of the General Board of Lunacy and the asylum committee of the parochial board; and the building was thereafter erected with all despatch.

The main building is in the Elizabethan style of architecture, and is 700 feet long, with a corridor running its entire length: the principal external features being two massive and handsome towers, each rising to the height of 150 feet from the centre of the building, and a very elegant fleche, which surmounts the chapel. In the centre of the administrative block is situated the kitchen, where the food is cooked by steam. The dining hall and recreation hall are each 89 ft. by 44 ft. 6 in., on each side of the former being conservatory corridors entering into the chapel, where worship is conducted daily in presence of about 400 patients. Its principal window is fitted with three divisions of stained glass, representing Faith, Hope, and Charity; the work of Mr. Ballantine, of Edinburgh. In the two main towers large tanks have been fitted for the supply of water throughout the building. Every freedom is allowed to the patients both inside and out, the men being chiefly employed, as already indicated, on the land and farm, and the women in usual household duties.

The asylum, which is acknowledged to be one of the finest and most fully-equipped in the country, has been visited by specialists and others from all parts of Scotland and England, as well as from the Continent and America, all of whom have expressed their admiration of the arrangements which are provided for the treatment of the insane. It is about a mile distant from Lenzie Station, and occupies a conspicuous position, bordering the main line between Glasgow and Edinburgh on the North British Railway, from which there is a siding going around the buildings.

Recognising the liberal manner in which the parochial board had, by its erection, provided for all the lunatics of the parish, the General Board of Lunacy in 1881 granted the ratepayers thereof total exemption from assessments for lunacy purposes levied by the district board; while under the powers conferred by the Lunacy Districts (Scotland) Act, 1887, the general board has created the Barony Parish into a separate lunacy district, with Woodilee as its district asylum. Its present staff consists of upwards of ninety male and female attendants, tradesmen and other officers, under a medical superintendent and assistant.

It was opened upon the 22nd October, 1875, under the superintendence of Dr. Rutherford, now medical superintendent of Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries. Since then the parochial board has acquired the adjoining estate of Wester Muckcroft, consisting of 148 acres, upon which there is a house and farm, where patients engaged in farm work are accommodated In addition, sixty-four acres have been acquired, and eighty acres are held on lease. In 1879 it was resolved to erect a thoroughly-equipped farm succursal, which has since been occupied by patients who work upon the farm. The total land in connection with the asylum amounts to 459 acres, the greater portion of it being under cultivation; so that there is ample scope for the employment of patients in out-door work. The total cost to date of the land, buildings, farm, drainage of land, railway siding, furnishings, etc., amounts to about £250,000.

The license by the General Board of Lunacy has been extended from time to time, the whole buildings being presently licensed to accommodate 670 patients—320 males and 350 females. On 14th September, 1893, the numbers resident were 297 males and 296 females, total, 593; in addition to which there were boarded by the parish with private families, in various parts of the country, upwards of 149 patients, for whom curative treatment in the asylum was no longer necessary nor advantageous. The asylum is managed by a special committee appointed by the board, under rules framed by the General Board of Lunacy and the Home Secretary, and is visited twice a-year by the Commissioners in Lunacy, whose reports are published in the annual report of the General Board of Lunacy.

A special feature of the asylum is its system of sewage irrigation, which was commenced in 1879, and now extends to about eighty acres of land, with gradual periodical extension. The sewage is conveyed in iron pipes distributed throughout the fields, from which it is run off by hydrants placed at convenient places. The pasturage derives thereby immense benefit, more especially in dry seasons, and no deleterious effect upon the sanitary condition of the institution has ever been observed.

The asylum is being completed for a time by additions, and when these are finished the total length of the buildings will be 1,427 feet: the length of the internal corridor reaching from end to end 1,396 feet—or over a quarter of a mile—and the area covered by the buildings measured over extreme projections 132 acres.

When completed the asylum will be capable of accommodating 850 patients.

Water is supplied by tfye Kirkintilloch commissioners, and the whole premises are lighted by gas made from paraffin oil, the apparatus being furnished by Messrs. T. & S. Alexander, ironmongers, Kirkintilloch. The gas so made is giving satisfaction, and is found to be cheaper than ordinary gas made from coal. The average cost of gas from Kirkintilloch Gas Works for three years was £294 3s., while the cost of oil gas for the first year was only 8s. 4d. Allowing for instalment on capital outlay, £48 10s., and interest, £47 5s. 9d., the total cost for the year was £269 4s. 1d. The proportion of principal and interest on capital will, however, decrease annually until it ceases altogether.


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