Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children was a hospital in Sciennes, Edinburgh, Scotland, specialising in paediatric healthcare. Locally, it was commonly referred to simply as the "Sick Kids". The hospital provided emergency care for children from birth to their 13th birthday, including a specialist Accident and Emergency facility. Some in-patient specialties saw children up to their 16th birthday. The hospital was located on Sciennes Road in the Sciennes area of Edinburgh's South Side and was managed by NHS Lothian. It moved in 2021 to the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Little France.

Royal Hospital for Sick Children
NHS Lothian
Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh is located in Edinburgh
Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh
Shown in Edinburgh
LocationEdinburgh, Scotland
Coordinates55°56′18″N 3°11′20″W / 55.93833°N 3.18889°W / 55.93833; -3.18889
Care systemNHS
TypeTeaching hospital, specialist
Affiliated universityUniversity of Edinburgh
Emergency departmentYes
1863 (Royal Charter)
ListsHospitals in Scotland


Royal Arms carving over the main entrance

The hospital, which opened at 7 Lauriston Lane in 1860, was the first dedicated children's hospital in Scotland.[1] It received a royal charter in 1863, when it moved to the Meadowside House.[2] The conversion of the house into a hospital was carried out by the architect David Macgibbon.[3] In 1890 an outbreak of typhoid forced a temporary removal to Plewlands House, Morningside,[3] and Meadowside House was subsequently sold.[2]

The site of the Trades Maiden Hospital (established by Mary Erskine) at Rillbank was bought in the early 1890s,[4] and plans for a new hospital were put in hand to designs by George Washington Browne. The Sciennes Road building, which cost £50,000,[5] was opened by Princess Beatrice on 31 October 1895.[1]

The hospital joined the National Health Service in 1948.[6] The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, visited it in November 2014.[7]

In February 2015 construction work began on the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People at Little France, which replaced the hospital in 2021.[8] A video Mail Porter was commissioned in 2015 from filmmaker Sandie Jamieson, with music scored by Derek Williams to commemorate the closing of the Sciennes site.[9][10]

In December 2016 the existing site was offered for sale as a development opportunity with the expectation of significant interest.[11] In September 2017 NHS Lothian decided to sell the site to the Downing Group, a Liverpool-based property developer.[12]

Site Demolition 2021

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children closed on 23 March 2021.[13][14] The Downing Group started work on the redevelopment of the site in June 2021.[15]



In 2011, 6-year old Jack Henderson started an initiative to raise money for the hospital that cared for his brother, by selling drawings he had created. He originally planned to raise £100, but quickly raised £10,000.[16] A book, Jack Draws Anything, was published in October 2011.[17] After 3 years the fundraising total exceeded £64,000 and the project was brought to an end in June 2014.[18]

Architecture of the Sciennes Site

View of the Mortuary Chapel Murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair

Some of the buildings that make up the hospital at the Sciennes Road site have listed building status designated by Historic Environment Scotland.


  1. ^ a b c Historic Environment Scotland. "Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Main U-Plan Block, including boundary walls and paired Gatepiers to south, excluding early 20th century former outpatients block to Sylvan Place and excluding all additions to west and north, Sciennes Road, Edinburgh (LB30480)". Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Royal Hospital for Sick Children History". NHS Lothian. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Richardson, Harriet (22 January 2017). "Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh". Historic Hospitals. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Scran ::: Trades' Maiden Hospital, Edinburgh". Scran. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  5. ^ LHSA. "The Story of the 'Sick Kids' Hospital". Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  6. ^ LHSA. "Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children collection summary". Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Inauguration". Office of the First Minister of Scotland. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  8. ^ "Edinburgh Sick Kids: The unusable hospital that is finally open". BBC. 23 March 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  9. ^ Mail Porter. IMDb. Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  10. ^ Jamieson, Sandie. (31 March 2015). Mail Porter. Vimeo. Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  11. ^ "For sale: Edinburgh's historic Sick Kids hospital put on market". 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  12. ^ Christie, Kevan (15 September 2017). "Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital sold to developers". The Scotsman. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  13. ^ "New opening date for Edinburgh's children's hospital". BBC News. 10 March 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Edinburgh's new Sick Kids hospital will open fully on March 23". Edinburgh Evening News. 10 March 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  15. ^ Swanson, Ian (19 June 2021). "Work begins on redeveloping site of Edinburgh's former Sick Kids hospital into student accommodation and private homes". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Jack Henderson hits £10,000 for Sick Kids in Edinburgh". BBC News (Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland). 4 April 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  17. ^ Sulieman, Cara (23 May 2011). "Jack Draws Anything: Six-year-old behind the website signs book deal". STV News. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  18. ^ "The end". Jack Draws Anything. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  19. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Mortuary Chapel, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Sciennes Road, Edinburgh (LB52347)". Retrieved 6 July 2021.