Govan, Lanarkshire

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After the 1845 Poor Law Amendment (Scotland) Act, poor law provision in Glasgow was divided between four parishes: City, Barony, Govan, and Gorbals.

Between about 1845 and 1850, Govan had a poorhouse on Dale Street (now Tradeston Street). In about 1852, Govan Combination set up a poorhouse in buildings converted from former cavalry barracks at the west side of Eglinton Street. The architects for the work were James Salmon (Senior) and Robert Black. From this date, Govan also provided accommodation for paupers from Gorbals parish, before eventually absorbing the parish in 1873.

Govan Eglinton Street site, c.1861.

Govan Eglinton Street site, c.1861.

In 1867-72, a new poorhouse, a 240-bed general hospital, and a lunatic asylum for 180 patients, were built at on a new site at Merryflatts. The scheme, designed by James Thomson, cost £100,000 was described as "the finest asylum for the poor in Scotland" although was criticised by some for its extravagance. In 1902-05 major extensions provided 700 more beds. In 1912 Govan was absorbed into Glasgow Parish. The poorhouse location and layout are shown on the 1914 map below:

Govan Merryflatts site, 1914.

Govan Merryflatts site from the south-east.
© Heatherbank Museum of Social Work.

The main poorhouse block ran down the eastern side of the site.

Govan main block from the south, 2001
© Peter Higginbotham.

The entrance and offices lay at its centre, with male accommodation to one side, and female to the other.

Govan main block entrance from the east, 2001
© Peter Higginbotham.

The asylum block was located the south of the poorhouse.

Govan asylum block from the south-east, 2001
© Peter Higginbotham.

In 1923, the Merryflatts site became the Southern General Hospital under the control of the Corporation's Public Assistance Department. The last poorhouse beds were taken out of use in June 1936 when running of the hospital was taken over by the local Public Healh Department.




Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

  • Greater Glasgow NHS Board Archive, now located at The Mitchell Library, 210 North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN, Scotland. Holdings include: Administrative records and ephemera (1868-1972); Admissions and discharges (1885-1970); etc.
  • Glasgow City Archives, The Mitchell Library, 210 North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN, Scotland.


  • Glaswegiana — A Collection of Stories of Glasgow Past and Present by William W Barr (Vista, 1972).


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