Select Page

Rose Innes Hospital & Home

The end of Rose Innes as a hospital

In 1948 the Labour Government, elected three years previously, passed an Act which created the National Health Service, which would provide medical care free of charge at the point of delivery and took over institutions which had been run by local councils to provide health services for the uninsured poor.

Rose Innes Hospital was handed over by the Banff Lower Board to the Regional Hospital Board, much against the wishes of the community of Aberchirder.

Heather Heppenstall recalled her experiences at Rose Innes at that time:
My first job after leaving school was as a Nursing Auxiliary. I was 15 years old and the year was 1950. I had always wanted to be a nurse but was too young to start my training, so worked in the Rose Innes [Hospital] in Aberchirder. I can’t remember how much I earned but as I lived in I kept all of my earnings. I had one day off a week and went home to the farm. I had two weeks holiday per year. The work was very hard looking after very ill people. Some were physically ill, some were mentally ill. It was very different from today’s nursing as most of the patients were in bed. They didn’t have a nice sitting room. There were no hoists or equipment to help lift the patients, no such thing as Health and Safety! I enjoyed the work very much and it certainly didn’t put me off starting my training [in psychiatry].
(Posted on https://wrvsmorayheritagememories 13 September 2012)
At this time the hospital provided employment for around twenty people, led by Matron Mary Watson.
L to r: Bella Stuart (Domestic), Miss Cumming, Jenny Johnston, (Domestic), Mary Matthew (Domestic), Greta Milne (Gray), Dr Ronald Cumming, Jean Milne (Beattie), Molly Barron, Mary Watson (Matron), Daisy Matthew (Domestic), John Whyte (Gardener), Audrey Burnett (Taylor), Jenny Coull, Nellie Taylor (Cook), Barbara Webster (Relief Cook).
Not in photograph but also worked at Rose Innes: Evelyn Wilson (sister of Bruce Wilson, Public Assistance Officer), Sheena Seivwright (Arkland), Isobel King (Cornhill?)

(Thanks to Margaret Taylor and Greta Gray for providing names.)

Hospital Staff in the 1950s
L to r: Miss Cumming (Doctor’s sister), Mary Watson (Matron), Barbara Webster (Relief Cook), Jean Milne, Greta Milne.
(Thanks to Margaret Taylor and Greta Gray for providing names.)
It was not long before, at the end of 1953 the maternity unit was closed, the last birth being on Christmas Day. The Banffshire Journal reported:
The last ever baby born at the maternity ward at Rose Innes Hospital, Aberchirder, was likely to be Christmas Day baby Carol McKenzie, the 9 ½ lb daughter of Mr and Mrs J McKenzie, West Deuchries. Feelings were running high in the town against the decision by the Hospital Board to close the maternity ward, with all bookings now stopped. A petition from the Town Council had been presented to Banffshire MP W S Duthie, and was now in the hands of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
One local woman claimed that the new arrangements to move all cases to the recently opened maternity annexe at Chalmers Hospital in Banff were because the Chalmers facility had not been the success anticipated for it. “The next thing they’ll do is close our hospital altogether.”
(Banffshire Journal, 29 December 1953)

These patients were transferred in 1957 to the hospitals at Portsoy and Keith.

And just over four years later the paper reported that:

Rose Innes Hospital, Aberchirder, is to be closed down … with the patients currently there being moved to [Campbell Hospital] Portsoy. The changes are a result of NHS cost-cutting measures. The community in Aberchirder were shocked and angry at the proposed closure according to Provost A R Smith, who said the decision had come “like a bolt from the blue”.
(Banffshire Journal, 4 March 1958)


In 1964 Aberchirder celebrated the 200th anniversary of its foundation, and the Town Council treated Rose Innes residents to a party, with Provost John Taylor and Town Clerk Frank Anderson in attendance:
L to r: Mrs Flora McFarlane (Matron), Frank Anderson, Alex ‘Cuddy’ Hay (ex-Netherdale Smiddy), unknown lady, John Taylor, Sheena Sievewright (Assistant Matron).

Maisie Duncan provided this photograph, (left) taken of the local people present at the opening ceremony:
Standing (l to r): Mrs Edward Walker; Mrs John Taylor; Alex Watt; Frank Anderson (Town Clerk); John Taylor; Rev Edward Walker; Mrs Archie McBain; Bella Watt
Seated: Sheena Sievewright (Assistant Matron), Dr Archie McBain, Mrs Flora McFarlane (Matron).

In 1967 two extra wings were completed, thus making provision for 35 elderly residents:
Postcard by Bodie’s of Banff, c.1960


 In 1984 at the suggestion of officer-in-charge Barbara Shaw a small building in the grounds, formerly used as a decontamination centre for diseases patients coming to the hospital, was turned into a café. The building was officially opened on 17 October by Foggie’s new GP Robin Gatenby:

Skyways aerial photograph, 1973

In 1975 Rose Innes Home was taken over by Grampian Regional Council’s Social Work Department.
1979 Retiral of Officer-in-Charge MrsSim:
Back (l to r): Mrs Sim, Mrs J Milne, Miss A Reid, Miss Bella Millar, Mr William Hay.
Front (l to r): Mr A Hay (blacksmith, Netherdale), Mrs L Morrison, Mr W Bowie, Miss M Learmont, Mrs Nan Hendry, Assistant Officer-in-Charge Miss J Thomson.

 In 1987 a Rose Innes staff committee raised over £30,000 from donations and fundraising to provide a conservatory extension. The following year the new facility opened and a cheese and wine function was held to thank all those who had supported the campaign.

The centenary of Rose Innes was celebrated by a small ceremony in March 1992, which also marked the retiral of officer-in-charge Barbara Shaw. She had been in the post for eleven years and earned a reputation for fundraising as well as running the home as a place that welcomed families and friends of the residents.
In 1997, at a cost of £150,000, the altered and refurbished West Wing was opened as Netherdale Dementia Unit with specialised accommodation for eight residents, and eight staff. The remainder of the home accommodated up to sixteen people. At the time Colin McKenzie, Head of Social Work (North) said: “This unit certainly guarantees the long-term future of Rose Innes”.
In 2000 the Friends of Rose Innes group planned a millennium project to provide a garden for residents and a grant of £1000 was received from Banff & Macduff Age Concern.
However the following year new care legislation was passed. The Care Commission considered the building did not meet new standards in terms of room size, disabled access and ensuite facilities. Aberdeenshire Council did not consider it feasible to modernise the building and Banff & Buchan Area Committee rubber stamped plans to close Rose Innes. Latterly there were only thirteen residents, of whom just two were local. Around fifty full- and part-time staff would be offered other jobs by the Council.
On Saturday 1 April 2006 staff of Rose Innes Home held a get-together at the building, when Evelyn Legge closed the door for the last time. Later that day the staff held a dinner in the Bowling Club to mark the closure of the home.
Back (l to r): Pat Gray, Cathy Scott, Brenda Bruce, Moira Thom, Sharman Nolan, Yvonne Brown, Brenda Legge, Morag Hepburn, Gladys Aitken, Ann Wolk, Frances Campbell, Steven Taylor, Ann Gallon, Meg Duncan, Margaret Birtwhistle, Vicky Rose, Diane Porter.
Middle (l to r): Evelyn Legge, Rosemary Smith, Elsie Henderson, Elaine Logan, Liz Ironside, Margaret Smith, Judith Lawson, Rex Dobinson, Margaret Durno, Elizabeth Davidson.
Front (l to r): Irene Sievewright, Irene Manson, Jackie Chalmers, Joyce Mackie, Darlene Nicol, Ruby Paterson.
(Thanks to Jackie Chalmers and Elsie Henderson for providing names.)

Later in the day staff  held a dinner in the Bowling Club pavilion to mark the closure of the home.

Back (l to r): Margaret Durno, Dianne Porter, Brenda Legge, Evelyn Legge, Yvonne Brown, Margaret Birtwhistle, Vicki Rose, Brenda Bruce, Moira Thom, Helen Fowlie, Irene Seivwright, Cathy Scott, Lesley Coutts, Pat Gray, Sharman Nolan, Meg Duncan, Frances Campbell.
Middle (l to r): Elaine Logan, Gladys Aitken, Ann Wolk, Elizabeth Davidson, Judith Lawson (Assistant Manager), Margaret Smith (Manager), Steven Taylor (Assist Manager), Elsie Henderson, Rex Dobinson, Morag Hepburn.
Front (l to r): Liz Tough, Rosemary Smith, Irene Manson, Anne Gallon, Jackie Chalmers, Joyce Mackie, Darlene Nicol, Ruby Paterson.
Assistant Manager Chrystal Beaton was unable to join them.

Shortly afterwards the Friends of Rose Innes group disbanded:

The last chapter in the long history of the Rose Innes home comes to a close today. The Friendship Group for the home met this afternoon to disband and donate their remaining funds of just under £5000 to local groups and charities. The group … has supported the home for many years. … The last of the residents of Rose Innes left a fortnight ago, many to the Durnhythe home in Portsoy.
(Turriff Advertiser, 19 April 2006)

Following the closure, several plans were put forward for developing the site for housing. The property was bought in 2007 by Tor Ecosse of Inverurie, who planned to demolish the home and build seventeen affordable houses. However many members of the community regarded such houses as likely to attract antisocial tenants and fifteen objections – including on grounds of the possible presence of bats in the building –were lodged. Five years later Tor Ecosse abandoned their plan.

After a further five years Banff architects Mantell Ritchie submitted a plan to convert the building into 12 flats but a year later it was back on the market.  It was then bought by EDTW Properties (a company owned by Edward Wilkinson, founder of Banff’s Spotty Bag Shop). However finally, in late 2019, apartments in the converted building were advertised for rental.