The First Matron at Erskine

For International Nurses Day we decided to look at one of the most important figures in the founding of Erskine, the hospital’s first matron, Agnes Carnochan Douglas.

Agnes began her nursing career at the Western Infirmary where she worked with Sir William Macewen, eventually managing his wards there. When war broke out in 1914 she took charge of the wards at Mount Stuart House which had been converted into a hospital.

After the Erskine scheme was launched on 29 March 1916 Macewen offered her the position of Matron at the new hospital. She started on 28th April 1916, moving to Culzean Castle where patients were admitted while Erskine House was being transformed into a hospital. For the next six months she travelled between Culzean and Erskine, looking after patients, recruiting staff, advising the hospitals Committees on issues such as furniture and equipment, and liaising with the War Office.

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When the hospital opened on 10 October 1916 she had a full staff ready to accommodate 200 patients. At Erskine she ran a tight ship, overseeing the care of over 3,000 patients by the end of the war. In 1918 she was invited to Buckingham Palace where she was awarded the Royal Red Cross Second Class in recognition of her valuable services to military medicine.

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On her retirement in November 1930 a reception was held in Glasgow City Chambers attended by members of the founding committee of Erskine including Sir John Reid, Sir Archibald Innes Shaw and the Marchioness of Ailsa, all wishing to pay tribute to her hard work and diligence throughout her time at Erskine.

To find out more about the project visit our webpage here. You can also keep up to date by following us on twitter@Erskine_100

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1 reply

  1. Readers may be interested in Science History Highlights tours at The Hunterian, where the work of Sir William Macewen is featured in the display “Medicine in Glasgow, Past and Present” (Main Hall upper balcony). Tours 2pm Tues – Sun (subject to volunteer availability – you can phone in to check 0141 330 4221)

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