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123The Beatson - West of Scotland Cancer CareNHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
History of the Beatson

History of the Beatson

 George Beatson had family origins around the town of Campbeltown at the southern end of the Kintyre peninsula on the West Coast of Scotland. His father George Stewart Beatson, was Surgeon General to the Indian Army and came from a family with sea-going traditions. His mother was the daughter of an officer in the Ceylon Rifles.

Glasgow Cancer Hospital

george beatson sketch

In 1886 The Glasgow Cancer and Skin Institution was established at 400 St.Vincent Street.

An appeal set up in March 1890 resulted in the opening on 13 October of that year, of a 10-bed hospital at 168 Hill Street, Garnethill, under the directorship of Dr.Hugh Murray.

In 1893, the directors of the hospital decided to limit its work to the treatment of cancer patients only, appointing a full staff of medical officers, including a pathologist. In the following year, the Glasgow Cancer Hospital - the first hospital in Scotland to deal solely with cancer - was established, together with an outdoor dispensary, at 22 West Graham Street. In addition to the outpatient service, a domiciliary nursing service was setup to assist in the care of cancer patients in their own homes.

This service was established 60 years before the setting up of the Marie Curie Foundation.

Where the Glasgow Cancer and Skin Hospital had been directed by Dr.Hugh Murray, the Director of the new Glasgow Cancer Hospital was Dr.George Beatson (later Sir George Beatson), one of the International pioneers in the treatment of breast cancer.

In 1896, following a local appeal, the Glasgow Cancer Hospital moved to larger premises at 132-138 Hill Street, Gartnethill, two buildings on the site having been converted into a modern 30 bed hospital with provision for the pathological study of cancer and improved accommodation for nursing and domestic staff.

In 1906 a further appeal was raised to obtain funds with which to establish and equip a research department within the hospital. The buildings were opened on 30 May 1912 by Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. At the opening, her Royal Highness announced that from that time His Majesty King George V wished the hospital to be known as the Glasgow Cancer Hospital.

The hospital was subsequently further enlarged and rebuilt, bringing the total number of beds up to 50. From the start it treated not only people from Glasgow but also from surrounding areas. Analysis from the admissions between 1894 and 1922 showed that people from 22 out of the 35 Scottish counties had availaed themselves of the hospital services as had a number of people from England and the Dominions of the then British Empire.

In 1948, following the setting up of the National Health Service, it was decided to change the name of the Glasgow Cancer Hospital and after much discussion it was changed to the Royal Beatson Memorial Hospital.

Image Key
1. First cancer hospital 1886 in st vincent st, glasgow, scotland uk
2. Ward in Glasgow Royal Cancer Hospital 1920's
3. Early X-ray equipment in operation at Glasgow Cancer Hospital.
4. Glasgow Cancer labs from the 1970's

Key Points of Interest