As the First World War went on, with no end in sight, people began to call for more care for specialised medical facilities to deal with the unprecedented number of injured and maimed service personnel returning from the trenches.
Sir William Macewen, Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow, was asked to head a committee to establish a hospital in the West of Scotland which would care for Scottish veterans, which he duly did.
This week marks the anniversary of the committee’s public meeting on 29th March 1916 to formally launch the establishment of a hospital to care for those returning from the horrors of the trenches. Within two months of the meeting £20,582 was raised in public donations with the support of many prominent citizens including Sir Thomas Dunlop, the Lord Provost of Glasgow. They were joined by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, who became the patron of the hospital.
The committee’s first task was to find suitable premises for the hospital. Thomas Aikman, owner of the Mansion House of Erskine, offered free use of the house and grounds for the period of the war and for 12 months after the declaration of peace. He also gave the committee the option to make the institution a permanent one on payment of the agricultural value of the grounds. Sir John Reid, later Vice President of the hospital, bought the house and grounds and gifted them anonymously to the charity.
The journey of the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers now known as Erskine had begun.