Statement of Special Interest
The sentry pavilions with gates, gatepiers and railings, built in 1931-2, by the eminent Edinburgh practice Auldjo Jamieson and Arnott in the Neo-Georgian style, are almost completely unaltered and are very unusual for their date, their pairing and their small, 'sentry box' type. Along with the excellent late 17th century style gates and railing designed by Thomas Hadden, they make an important contribution to the streetscape at the junction of Grange Loan and Whitehouse Loan. The pavilions are also important components of the Astley Ainslie Hospital which is an unusual hospital site for its suburban garden character that has largely been retained with a number of buildings which have been little or moderately altered.
The Astley Ainslie Institution was constituted in 1921 when the Board of Governors purchased about 31 acres of ground of the Canaan estate through an endowment by David Ainslie, who had acquired considerable wealth as a farmer and sheep breeder. The hospital was to be for convalescents from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. As pressure on beds steadily grew during the 19th century, convalescent hospitals were a way of moving recovering patients out and freeing up beds for more acute cases. Typically these were situated on the outskirts of cities and towns where patients could benefit from fresh, clean air. This emphasis on light and clean air was inspired by the example of Continental sanatoria.
In the area initially purchased through the Ainslie bequest there were three villas with their large gardens: Canaan Park, Canaan House and Millbank. The first hospital unit, opened in 1923 as an experimental unit for female patients was Canaan Park, a Victorian villa which had been adapted and extended for hospital use as the facility expanded. New pavilions were added to the site from 1929 as were other related buildings such as the 'Scientific Department' for specialised treatment, the nurses' home and the school as well as accommodation for the superintendent and other staff and gatelodges at the north and west sides.
During the Second World War the Astley Ainslie was closed to convalescent patients and became a military hospital. A series of wooden huts were constructed on the site in 1940. The military hospital status continued until 1 October 1945 when the hospital returned to its former function. That same year another villa, St Roque with its large grounds, was added to the site and Morelands to the east of the site was added two years later. New units added since then include a children's unit (1965), a disabled centre (1979) and two day hospitals (1971 and 1983).
In the second half of the 19th century and in the early 20th century hospitals which specialised in particular conditions grew in number. The Astley Ainslie was unusual in that it was not a subscription or voluntary hospital but simply ran on its initial endowment. In Scotland in 1870, there were just seven convalescent homes, mainly in the West, with an annual admission rate of 4000 patients. By the 1930s this had risen to over sixty convalescent homes that cared for more than 34,000 people annually. In 1948 the hospital and its grounds were vested in the Secretary of State for Scotland of the new National Health Service. Its endowment funds were handed over to a Board of Management.
Most major towns had convalescent hospitals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of the handful that were purpose-built as general convalescent homes in Edinburgh, (the Astley Ainslie, Corstorphine and one in Gilmerton), only the Astley Ainslie continues to provide rehabilitation for patients as well as providing care for older people. Corstorphine has been diverted to other use and Gilmerton is no longer a hospital building. The site is unusual in that the original layout and area of the site have been largely retained and new buildings have been inserted discretely into the landscaped grounds.
The practice Auldjo Jamieson and Arnott designed various buildings on the Astley Ainslie site from the mid-1920s onwards, taking on the role of architects to the Institution after one phase of alteration work to Canaan Park in 1922 by the architect John Jerdan. E A O Auldjo Jamieson (1880-1937) was Sydney Mitchell's assistant and inherited his practice on Mitchell's retirement in 1910 (and with it a number of hospital clients). In that same year he formed a partnership with J A Arnott (1871-1950) which mainly undertook restoration work and additions to existing buildings along with a small number of commissions for new buildings. The Astley Ainslie complex of buildings is one of Auldjo Jamieson and Arnott's largest and longest running commissions. They worked for the hospital from the mid-1920s until the Second World War, the practice by then run by Arnott and Jamieson's son.
Auldjo Jamieson and Arnott were traditionalists and frequently employed a neo-Georgian style, a style which was favoured for hospital buildings in the inter-war period. Good examples can be found at Mearnskirk Hospital, Renfrewshire designed by the architect J A T Houston and at the Convalescent Home in Gullane designed by Auldjo Jamieson before his partnership with James Alexander Arnott. The style could be adapted well to relatively sophisticated designs or to simpler buildings using less expensive materials. By this date the practice had experience in bold eyecatching entrance gateways having designed one at Busby Park and the outstanding entrance group at Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline after winning the competition.
Listed building record and statutory address updated in 2014. Previously listed as 143 Grange Road, Astley Ainslie Hospital, Sentry Pavilions.