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A voluntary hospital

We are used to having the National Health Service providing free healthcare. When the Victoria was built things were different. Donations paid for the hospital. In return, donors could give sick employees or acquaintances lines of admission to the hospital. Patients needed a line to be admitted, except for accident and emergency cases.

Churches, businesses and workers’ associations gave money to the hospital and sent members there for treatment. In 1890, for example, Queen’s Park UP Church gave £15, while workers at Dubs and Company’s Glasgow Locomotive Works gave £100.

Seats on the Board of Governors were reserved for workers’ representatives.

Some people found it difficult to get a line of admission. Their only option was the poor law hospital, regarded as shameful and degrading.

Better-off people paid doctors for private care.


Most illnesses were treated except infectious diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and the DTs (delirium tremens caused by excess alcohol).

From November 1890 to October 1891 the hospital admitted 860 patients and performed 276 operations. 

Life on the wards

There were rules for patients and those who broke them might be ejected.

If they were well enough, patients had to help around the hospital.

Women were put to work cleaning and sewing.