Glasgow Royal Infirmary

The Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) is a large teaching hospital. With a capacity of around 1,000 beds, the hospital campus covers an area of around 8 hectares (20 acres), situated on the north-eastern edge of the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland. It is managed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.[2][3] It was originally opened in 1794, with the present main building dating from 1914.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Glasgow. Glasgow Royal Infirmary.jpg
The Royal Infirmary's west-facing Centre Block, opened in 1914.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary is located in Glasgow council area
Glasgow Royal Infirmary
Location within Glasgow
LocationCastle St, Glasgow, Scotland
Coordinates55°51′52.06″N 4°14′3.04″W / 55.8644611°N 4.2341778°W / 55.8644611; -4.2341778Coordinates: 55°51′52.06″N 4°14′3.04″W / 55.8644611°N 4.2341778°W / 55.8644611; -4.2341778
Care systemNHS Scotland
Affiliated universityUniversity of Glasgow
Emergency departmentYes
SpecialityCardiology, Plastic Surgery
Rebuilt (I) 1909-1924
Rebuilt (II) 1974-82
WebsiteOfficial Website
ListsHospitals in Scotland


Founding of the infirmaryEdit

Etching of a view of the infirmary by James Fittler in Scotia Depicta, published 1804
The New Buildings (post-1974) at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, viewed from the Necropolis. The Queen Elizabeth Building, completed in 1981, is in the foreground. The newer Princess Royal Maternity Hospital, opened in 2001, is just behind and to the right. The University Teaching Block is on the left hand side, adjoining the 1981 building.

A Royal Charter was obtained in 1791 granting the Crown-owned land to the hospital. The infirmary was built beside Glasgow Cathedral on land that held the ruins of the Bishop's Castle, which dated from at least the 13th century but had been allowed to fall into disrepair. George Jardine, Professor of Logic, was appointed the first manager in January 1793.[4]

Designed by Robert and James Adam, the original Royal Infirmary building was opened in December 1794.[4] The original Adams building had five floors (one underground) holding eight wards (giving the hospital just over a hundred beds) and a circular operating room on the fourth floor with a glazed dome ceiling. After a number of additional buildings were added, the first in 1816, a specialist fever block in 1829 and a surgical block in 1860.[5]

St Mungo's College Medical SchoolEdit

St Mungo's College Medical School was set up in 1876 by the medical teachers of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, after the university had migrated westwards and set up the new Western Infirmary for clinical teaching. At first their students could not take the university examinations. St Mungo's College also had a non-university law school, which prepared accountants and law agents but not advocates.[6] In 1947 it was absorbed into the University of Glasgow's Faculty of Medicine.[7]

New buildingEdit

The original Adams building was replaced with a new building designed by James Miller and opened by King George V in July 1914.[8] In 1926, the surgical block in which Joseph Lister had worked was also torn down for replacement.[9]

Post-war redevelopmentEdit

Following the amalgamation of the old St. Mungo's College of Medicine into the University of Glasgow Medical School in 1947, the old College buildings on Castle Street officially became part of the hospital campus. In 1948 the hospital became part of NHS Scotland.[10]

Visions of a brand new hospital on the site had been part of the Bruce Report as early as the late 1940s, but by 1974, the Greater Glasgow Health Board had formally begun plans for the replacement of the 1914 Miller buildings with a brand new building. This would be located on the north of the hospital site overlooking Alexandra Parade and the M8 motorway. The new building was designed by Sir Basil Spence in a "modular" fashion, where new blocks could be easily added in phases as funding allowed. In the end, only the first phase of Spence's original design was implemented and was finally completed around 1982. It also incorporated new accommodation for the hospital's teaching departments, thus replacing the old St. Mungo's College buildings. The new complex was linked to the Surgical Block of the original Royal Infirmary building at basement level via a link corridor, with a further pedestrian entrance at lower basement level on Wishart Street (adjacent to the Necropolis). The new facility was officially named the "Queen Elizabeth Building" by the Queen on a visit in July 1986.[11] Since 1982 the pre-1915 buildings of the Infirmary have been protected as a category B listed building.[12]

The south face of the Medical Block of the Glasgow Royal as seen from High Street

After the closure of the Rutherglen Maternity Hospital and the old Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital at Rottenrow, a new maternity block was added to the New Building; the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital opened in 2001.[13] Following the closure of Canniesburn Hospital, the Jubilee Building was opened, adding purpose-built Accident & Emergency facilities and a plastic surgery unit, in November 2002.[14]

Following the transfer of the Golden Jubilee Hospital (formerly the HCI Hospital) in Clydebank to public ownership, much of the cardiology specialism was moved from GRI to the newer facility.[15]

Notable staff and researchEdit

The rear of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary's 1914 Centre Block in the background with the Estates building in the foreground, viewed from the Glasgow Necropolis

In 1856, Joseph Lister became an assistant surgeon at the Infirmary and a professor of surgery in 1860. Running the new surgery block, Lister noted that about half of his patients died from sepsis. Lister experimented to find ways to prevent sepsis. This experimentation lead to using carbolic acid to clean instruments; he is now considered the "father of modern surgery".[16]

In 1875, a student of Lister, William Macewen joined the Infirmary surgery as an assistant surgeon, becoming a full surgeon in 1877. While at the Infirmary he introduced the practice of doctors wearing sterilisable white coats and pioneered operations on the brain for tumours, abscesses and trauma.[17]

In 1896, John Macintyre, Medical Electrician at the Infirmary, opened one of the first radiological departments in the world.[18]

In 1908, one of MacEwen's students James Pringle, developed the Pringle manoeuvre which is used to control bleeding during liver surgery.[19]

In the 1950s Professor Ian Donald, working in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, was one of the pioneers of diagnostic ultrasound.[20]


  1. ^ "NHSGGC Job Description". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2010.[dead link]
  2. ^ "Records of Glasgow Royal Infirmary". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board Archive. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Glasgow Royal Infirmary". Dr Foster. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  4. ^ a b "On This Day: 2nd of January". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  5. ^ Aird, Andrew (1894). "Glimpses of Old Glasgow". Aird & Coghill.
  6. ^ Maclean, Angus (1901). Archaeology, Education, Medical, & Charitable Institutions of Glasgow. Glasgow: British Association.
  7. ^ "Records of St Mungo's College of Medicine, 1888-1947, medical college, Glasgow, Scotland". Jisc archiveshub. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  8. ^ "On This Day: 7th of July". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Demolition of Lister Ward, 1926". The Glasgow Story. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Scotland in 1948". NHS Scotland. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Queen Elizabeth Building". Women of Scotland. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  12. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "82-92 (Even Nos) Castle Street, Royal Infirmary, including Clock Tower Building and Archway, Gates and Railings (Category B Listed Building) (LB32650)". Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  13. ^ "New maternity ward opens at Glasgow Royal Infirmary". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Jubilee Building". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Golden Jubilee National Hospital: Adult Cardiac Surgery, Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery". Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  16. ^ Pitt, Dennis; Aubin, Jean-Michel (1 October 2012). "Joseph Lister: father of modern surgery". Canadian Journal of Surgery. 55 (5): E8–E9. doi:10.1503/cjs.007112. ISSN 0008-428X. PMC 3468637. PMID 22992425.
  17. ^ "Sir William Macewen". The Glasgow Story. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  18. ^ "John Macintyre". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  19. ^ Miln DC (1963). "James Hogarth Pringle – surgeon extraordinary" (PDF). Proceedings of the Scottish Society for the History of Medicine: 30–37.
  20. ^ "Donald, Ian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40066. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Further readingEdit

  • Blakemore, Colin; Jenneth, Sheila (2001). The Oxford Companion to the Body. Oxford University. ISBN 0-19-852403-X.
  • Foreman, Carol (2003). Lost Glasgow. Birlinn. ISBN 1-84158-278-6.
  • Jenkinson, Jacqueline (1994). The Royal: The History of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 1794-1994 Bicentenary Committee on behalf of Glasgow Royal Infirmary NHS Trust ISBN 978-0852614334
  • Pittock, Murray G. H. (2003). A New History of Scotland. Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-2786-0.
  • Williams, David (1999). The Glasgow Guide. Birlinn. ISBN 0-86241-840-2

External linksEdit