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Oh baby: The changes in maternity services in Tayside and Fife through the decades

Some of the staff at the special care baby unit at Ninewells Hospital in January 1976.
Some of the staff at the special care baby unit at Ninewells Hospital in January 1976.

At 27 weeks pregnant, my attention has swiftly been turned to all things baby. More importantly what to expect when D-Day finally arrives and the little one (yes, thankfully just the one…) decides to make their long awaited appearance.

As a first-time mum, now I know what the maternity unit looks like these days, and the staff teams that work in them, thanks to my many routine appointments over the months.

It got me thinking – what was bringing a new life in to the world like in the past?

The scans are in, so let’s find out, by taking a look at maternity units in Tayside and Fife through the decades.

Has much changed from then to now?

Our first image is the Craigtoun mansion house which was built in 1901 as part of the Mount Melville Estate.

In 1947 the house and grounds were sold to Fife County Council for £25,000 and became Craigtoun Country Park.

The mansion opened as a maternity hospital which can be seen below in 1949 before it closed four decades later in 1992.

The hospital building and some of the surrounding land was bought by the Kohler Company, which also owns The Old Course Hotel.

While the land has been transformed into the Duke’s golf course, the hospital is currently lying empty after redevelopment plans were mothballed.


Proving that facemasks and proper PPE is not just a recent change within hospital life is part time staff nurse Lorna Donaldson who is feeding a gorgeous bundle of joy at the Dundee Royal Infirmary Intensive Baby Care Unit in April 1969.


The last three mums in Maryfield Hospital’s Maternity unit were the guests of honour at a tea party given by the nursing staff yesterday in April 1974. Maryfield Hospital can be traced to a poor hospital built in 1893 at the East Poorhouse before it shut in the 70s following the opening of Ninewells.


Perth new mums Ann Robertson and Margaret McGlashan look on as Sister Catherine Strachan holds new born baby Aileen Robertson in the new Maternity Unit at Perth Royal Infirmary in May 1975. Just look how proud as punch Ann looks at her little one.


Student midwife S Whitelaw and midwifery sister F Dorsie were also working within Perth Royal Infirmary’s new unit in May 1975. Did any of our readers give birth in the unit or were you even born there yourself?


While I would of course love it if every baby’s arrival was perfectly healthy it isn’t always the case. That is why it’s great to know that dedicated staff are on hand in special car baby units and neonatal wards if anything unthinkable does happen.

These dedicated staff below, Sister F.E. Fairgrieve, Staff Midwife L. Courtney and Staff Midwife C. Forbes were working within Ninewells special care baby unit here in January 1976.


Here is some more of the unit’s team, this time nearly 10 years later in December 1984. We have left to right, Dr Rosalie Wilkie, Dr Rowena Sankey, Chief Technician Tony Whyrock, Staff Midwife Rajini Bappop, Dr Stewart Forsyth and Nurse Lily Chan.

I wonder if anyone remembers these friendly faces from their time within the hospital or if any helped your little ones who would now be not so little and in their 30s!


We moved on to coloured photos now but I am sure the quality of staff at the Special Care Baby Unit is just as high. It really does amaze me how these tiny little babies that are born so prematurely go on to be healthy happy babies. I really do applaud all the staff in these types of wards – real life superheroes.


Someone else who thinks the unit is spectacular was little Kirsty Anne Collins who won the Miss Park Dean Personality contest in 1994 and decided to give her prize money to the unit. From the centre – Mr and Mrs Collins with children Kirsty (aged seven), Euan (aged three) and James (six months) present the cheque to Sister Bappoo.


Probably the most important maternity unit of them all though has to be the Forth Park Maternity Hospital in Kirkcaldy, mainly because that was the birth site of yours truly. It would have been amazing to have my first baby at the same hospital that my mum gave birth to my brother and I, however the building closed down and moved to the new site at Victoria Hospital in 2012.


And finally, where I will be heading in mid-October to embark on the biggest journey of my life thus far – the journey into motherhood. As a Fifer I will be under the care of the team at the Victoria Hospital Maternity Unit. Some of the hospital’s staff featured below are pictured after they were awarded UNICEF’s maternity service gold standard.

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